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F. Murray Abraham,
Nick is a writer in New York when he gets posted to a bureau in Greece. He has waited 30 years for this. He wants to know why his mother was killed in the civil war years earlier. In a parallel plot line we see Nick as a young boy and his family as they struggle to survive in the occupied Greek hillside. The plot lines converge as Nick's investigations bring him closer to the answers. Written by
Robert B. Young <email@example.com>
Additional flashback scenes were filmed featuring Alfred Molina as Nick's father Christos (played by Steve Plytas in the 1980s scenes). Although Molina was credited as "Young Christos" in press materials, and his scenes were shown in publicity photos, his role was almost completely cut from the final version, and his name does not appear in the credits. Molina's only remaining footage in the released film is a single shot of Christos taking a photograph of Eleni, Nikola and family, with his face partially obscured by his camera. See more »
This film seems to have unjustly attracted a lot of nonsensical comments, mostly from left of center commentators; and it's sadly revealing how the facts cited by other viewers are not even addressed, but simply ignored by the left-ist commentators. Those who accuse the film of being anti-communist propaganda mostly use ad hominem arguments, and insult and invective. But ask yourself: what good is a political view which assumes itself (because it is self-described as "revolutionary") to be above ordinary moral or political criticism? If that were true, then there could never be any way to judge the value of the actions performed in its name.
In short, this is a reasonably good film, with a fine performance by Kate Nelligan, and much less good work by other members of the cast. The direction is not inspired, and the flashback structure of the film seeks to maximize the emotional effects without stopping to consider just how powerful those effects are all by themselves, that is, the use of that structure betrays the fear of the film-makers that the story might not have the impact they wanted it to have.
The original book is stronger, but it too is flawed by Nicholas Gage's failure to ask himself about how it was that the communists picked on his mother, even though he presents some of the evidence that answers the question. It's clear from the book that some members of his family -- I think his grandfather, but it's been a long time since I read the book -- had serious disputes with other people in the village in the 20s and 30s and perhaps even earlier, and that there may even have been a murder involved; naturally, Gage is not all that clear on the point. The communists, men, most of them, couldn't go after the grandfather, so, brave souls that they were, went after the most vulnerable: the Gage womenfolk. Despicable, but that is often the tenor of village and peasant life.
And to me, this was the message of the book, that the politics of revolution were, in many cases, simply another weapon in the never-ending village war between its own members. The problem with the film is that it never really clarifies this central aspect of the drama, and so the power of Nelligan's performance is marooned. It affects, but it's almost in a vacuum, and Malkovich's portrayal of Gage, which I thought quite good, is similarly detached; but the flaw lay in the original book, which ducks important questions because Gage, North American that he is, simply doesn't understand the deeper currents of village life.
Worth a look, no matter its flaws. No work of art is ever perfect, and this one gets high marks for trying.
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