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March 4 - April 16, 2002

Hellenic Encounters

Co-sponsored by the Program for Modern Greek Studies at Harvard.

March 4 (Monday) 9:30 pm


Directed by Iannis Smaragdis
Greece 1996, 35mm, color, 85 min.
With Dimitri Katalifos, Vassilis Diamantopoulos
Greek with English subtitles

This haunting film brings to life the writings and personal history of Constantine P. Cavafy (1863–1933), the celebrated Greek poet whose intensely personal writing, often filled with homoerotic imagery, influenced such diverse personalities as painter David Hockney and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The story begins in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1933, where the seventy-year-old Cavafy lies terminally ill. A young writer who is working on a book about the artist begins to read passages from his biography, flooding the elderly poet’s memory with images from earlier days. This lyrical portrait blends striking cinematography, rich characterizations, and a remarkable score by Vangelis to capture the life and art of a man who left singular mark upon the world.

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March 5 (Tuesday) 9:30 pm


Directed by Michael Cacoyannis
Greece/US 1964, 35mm, b/w, 146 min.
With Anthony Quinn, Alan Bates, Lila Kedrova

This accomplished screen version of novel by Nikos Kazantzakis gave Quinn the role of a lifetime. Set in Crete, the story follows the adventures of the fun-loving Zorba, who takes a reserved Britisher (Bates) under his wing and instructs him in his earthy philosophy of life. Lila Kedrova won an Oscar for her supporting role as an aging courtesan who dwells in the past, as did cinematographer Walter Lassally. This lusty paean to personal freedom and love of tradition derives an extra measure of forcefulness from the memorable score by Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis.

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March 19 (Tuesday) 9:30 pm

HE WHO MUST DIE (Celui qui doit mourir)

Directed by Jules Dassin
France /Italy 1957, 35mm, b/w, 126 min.
With Jean Servais, Carl Mohner, Melina Mercouri
French with English subtitles

At the end of World War I, a Greek village that is prospering under laissez-faire Turkish dominion and practicing for its annual Easter passion play finds itself host to a horde of starving peasants, survivors of a distant massacre. Fearing the wrath of the Turkish bey, the village elders refuse them refuge, but a few—including the local harlot, cast as Mary Magdalene, and an illiterate shepherd youth assigned to play Jesus—come to their aid, with fateful consequences. Adapting Nikos Kazantzakis’s Christ Recrucified, Dassin and fellow blacklist exile Ben Barzman create a timeless parable of righteous defiance in the face of corrupt authority. We are pleased to present a newly restored 35mm archival CinemaScope print, courtesy of MGM

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April 16 (Tuesday) 9 pm


Directed by Martin Scorsese
US 1988, 35mm, color, 164 min.
With Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey

While Scorsese’s faithful adaptation of the Nikos Kazantzakis novel is a controversial telling of the Christ story, for many believers and nonbelievers alike this exploration of the man behind the myth is considered a true article of faith. Dafoe delivers a brilliant portrayal of a Jesus who, uncertain whether the voices he hears are from God or Satan, is locked in an agonizing battle with his own destiny. A labor of love many years in the planning, Scorsese’s epic work is an elegant and thought-provoking treatise on spirituality and existence.

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Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700