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Greece, 1953 (MIFF 1957, Programme 18)

Director: Michael Cacoyannis

The appeal of this film, first screened to an English-speaking audience at the 1954 Edinburgh Festival, lies not in its technical qualities but in the capacity of its director to present through conventional figures in a simply contrived tale something of the basic warmth of human relationships in their sunny Athenian setting. The young hat-shop assistant Mina has her clothes stolen; the lottery ticket in them, bought by a night-club singer, Alexis. wins £9.000, and the furious Mina engages the middle-aged lawyer, Pavlos Caryannis for legal advice. Stormy scenes between Mina and Alexis give place to a reconciliation aided by the lawyer and Mina's family, but based primarily upon mutual attraction.

This first film by Michael Cacoyannis, a young Greek actor and writer, owes something in story and treatment to French and Italian models (particularly Antoine et Antoinette and Domenka D'Agosto), but makes the most of the acting potential of the leading players and agreeably portrays an Athens dominated not by the Parthenon but by the daily lives of present citizens. Against the background of hilly streets, buses, flower-booths, taxis, sympathetic crowds and vivacious bird-like voices, the story of encounters and coincidences, jogs cheerfully along, helped by the natural fast-paced performance of Helle Lambetti and the soft beauty and rhythm of the Greek language.

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