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 ... See full summary »
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Manoel de Oliveira
Luís Miguel Cintra
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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Powerful, haunting tale of mother love vs. communist atrocity
Stunning performances by Kate Nelligan and most of the cast in this powerful story, based on truth, help make this a must-see film.
I wonder if some of the reviewers, such as onceuponatime500, really saw the movie, or if they just wrote from some vicious and preconceived bias.
The communists come to the village to conscript -- kidnap -- children to become guerrilla fighters. The mother, Eleni, takes a drastic step, mutilating her oldest child to spare her from being shanghaied into the communist forces.
Being communists, they will not be thwarted, not by any such reactionary notions as self-ownership, or freedom, or parental rights, or any of that silly stuff: They take the next oldest girl instead.
Eleni loves her children and believes, foolishly according to onceuponatime500, but in line with what Charlie Anderson (James Stewart) in "Shenandoah" said: They're my children, not the state's, not some murderous movement's.
For years after seeing this powerful and haunting story, I could recall Nelligan's last scene and be moved to tears.
The agony Eleni went through was duplicated millions of times in the bloody 20th Century, as some government or another, or some tyrannical movement or another, kidnapped young people to force them to risk their lives for some cause most of them didn't understand, much less support.
Think Viet Cong, think Hitler's armies, think Stalin's and Mao's imperialist and aggressive armies, and, yes, the poor draftees from the United States.
Think, contrastingly, of parents, parents who spent years loving and caring for their children, hoping those children would be able to live to a better adulthood than their parents. Think of those parents seeing their children sometimes literally torn from their grasp, thrown into lines to be cannon fodder for cruel warlords -- communists, Nazis, imperialists of one kind or another, even when disguised as crusaders.
"Eleni" works at almost every level but the incredibly horrible performance by John Malkovich. If it hadn't been seen as anti-communist, even Hollywood would have honored it. It is powerful drama.
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