April 20, 2007

Akamas, The Movie

Akamas is playing at The Pantheon in Lefkosia. Akamas is based on an essentially true story, a G/C marrying a T/C and deciding to stay in Pafos after 1974 (as opposed to moving to The Other Side).

The story illustrates the problems this relationship has to endure simply because on person is Greek and the other Turkish. It is played in the background of British colonization, the struggle for enosis by EOKA, the struggle for taksim by TMT, and finally the Turkish invasion in 1974.

The movie is a good attempt to point out the different versions of history that have made Cypriots on both sides what they are. But I will argue that the movie fails to touch on the problems between the two communities and offer any credible hope for the future. The movie shows, for instance, how villages were mixed and people lived together peacefully at some point but one does not fail to get the impression that mixed villages did not mean separate lives. Greeks were marrying Greeks, Turks were marrying Turks, both obstinately traditionalist and conservative in their outlooks and lives. These points withstanding, the movie is still recommended to be seen, and if you feel that you are growing weak at heart after watching it, there is still time to go to K-Cineplex and catch the 300 of Leonidas and recharge your nationalistic antibodies.

The movie has acclaimed notoriety because the main EOKA fighter/leader (Evagoras) calmly executes a G/C “traitor” (an old man) in a church on Good Friday. The man is executed by being shot in the mouth (we later learn his crime was to have argued in the coffeeshop that EOKA will eventually bring Turkey rather than Greece to Cyprus), and falls next to the dead Christ, the blood from his mouth coming to meet the dead body (and blood) of Jesus. This was around 3-5 minutes in the movie, but was really irrelevant to the rest of the plot and was actually contradicting the attributes of Evagoras (supportive of T/C, calm, clever and loving) previously shown in the movie. In the scene he is now shown to be a πελλο-κοπελλούδιν, a youngster drunk with the power of determining who will live and who will die. Completely reversing the attributes he had up to that point, and therefore making the plot self-contradictory and therefore less believable.

This was the scene that created trouble between the ministry of education and the producers since this scene was originally scripted to have happened in a coffeeshop (much more believable and credible). I really do not get why the producers paid so much attention to this scene. What are we supposed to get out of this? OK, supposedly there was one killing in a church during EOKA’a fight but is that really the issue here? Is that the only way to show how people’s lives were cheap back then? Does this have anything to do with the characters of the story or the political events unfolding? And is it worth alienating so many people by emphasizing an irrelevant possibility that nobody really can believe actually happened the way it was portrayed in the film? Is the producer’s insistence to show this scene worth the generated alienation that will prevent so many more G/C from ever watching this movie?

By the way, note that one of the six EMPs signing the letter to the Ministry of Education in support of the movie is the glorious anti-establishment, anti-Turk, anti-British-Bases, save-our-refugee-cultural-heritage-by-buying-refugee-antiques-cheaply, former DIKO MP, Marios Matsakis! But I digress, or as the allies of our president say, “Man may changeth”.

I reiterate that to think that so many people will not watch this movie just because of the arguments with regards to this scene is basically annoying. It is annoying because the movie has some positive aspects and is worth seen by Cypriots as they try to come to grips with what type of country they would like to live in in the future. But taking some things to the limit like that only makes people switch off, you lose them and you never have the chance to bring them in again. I really don’t get the persistence with regards to this scene, really what should be an irrelevant detail in the story being told and the background in which this story happens.

It would be interesting to have some views from T/C on the movie as I also think that the T/C characters were closer to G/C than T/C (they spoke most of the time in Greek, even between themselves). OK, maybe that was the case in 1960s Limnitis but was that really the case to such an extent? Maybe this was a practical difficulty to be dealt with but somehow it makes it look like something that was quickly done without much thought. How valid a criticism is that?

All in all, the movie was not convincing for the mainstream Cypriot on both sides of the divide. The essential message “Make Love, Not War” as the solution to all the problems on the island is shallow and does not address any of the grievances between the two communities that have created and are sustaining the conflict on the island. The movie is still worth seeing but leaves one with the feeling that the two communities have parted ways for good, and that what is left is to make this realization official…


Blogger the Idiot Mouflon said...

"...The essential message “Make Love, Not War” as the solution to all the problems on the island is shallow..."

There's nothing shallow about the basic conflict that has accompanied mankind from the very begining... especially if you consider its alternative versions.. "make Love AND War", "make War for Love", etc.

20 April, 2007 14:18  
Blogger impius said...

I don't think evagoras' portrayal in the assassination scene necessarily makes the plot self-contradictory. What it shows, i believe, is that people can be self-contradictory with conflicting characteristics and qualities that don't necessarily make them either purely evil or purely good--just human.

The assassination scene was not that big of a deal actually. Had all the karkashiallikki by aging freedom-fighters not taken place no-one would have paid that much attention to it really. The whole thing was blown way out of proportion. No doubt, the scene would still have stirred controversy but had all these nonsense about evagoras being a cinematic version of Pallikarides been omitted it wouldn't be that bad. I think the problem is that prospective audiences were biased and loaded by all the karkashiallikki of da freedom fighters.

Another point is that especially after all the karkashiallikki, Hrisanthou was right in insisting to keep the scene even at the cost of alienating people. I don't think that the alienation of prospective audience is that good of an excuse to cut a scene out. Everyone knows/knew that the movie deals with a very sensitive subject and everyone should be prepared (and mature enough) to cope with it. Besides, it's not just a scene which could be left out, it forms part of the sequence of events and binds the film together.

Finally, I don't think the message was "make love, not war". This point was neither implicitly nor expressly made. What I understood from the film is that two innocent people who loved one another got caught up in a situation where their love was forbidden due to their different backgrounds and the conflict between their respective communities. In other words two innocent people suffered because everyone else emalakizountan

20 April, 2007 18:20  
Blogger impius said...

(excellent review otherwise)

20 April, 2007 18:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apodime: you speak as if the movie had some high mission that it somehow failed. Maybe it didn't.

You say that "the movie fails to touch on the problems between the two communities and offer any credible hope for the future". Maybe it wasn't trying to.

You speak as if the point of the murder scene was to show that life was cheap back then. Maybe you missed the point? Perhaps it was meant to symbolize something else? Like the irony of the blood of the shot man meeting the blood of christ? Or the insanity of fanaticism? Perhaps you are being a little conservative here?

Did you mean mixed lives by any chance?

20 April, 2007 22:37  
Anonymous m said...

Why are you persisting on the scene in church if it was not that important? I really do not think it was shocking or over the top - it does not even show the actual murder - you are shown the church from outside, when the gun goes off! If it made more people go see a good cypriot production, then so be it!

Secondly, this is a movie, not a political or historical documentary and it should be judged as such. There are no clear political views or positions been made and that is where its value lies. It is a story of two lovers caught up in the midst of the illogical reality of their homeland.

Finally, for me, the message was the poem at the end and not "make love, not war"...

In any case, we all agree it is worth seeing and something we need more of.

23 April, 2007 08:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the movie reflects the director's justified pessimism about the future. His various previous attempts (documentaries) have fallen on deaf ears. We DON'T WANT to know about our failings, our mistakes. After all, we are the greatest race on earth, aren't we? Such movies, which make us think and question the katestimeno are such a rarity in this country that we should treasure them...

23 April, 2007 12:21  
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06 September, 2009 00:57  

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