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Cacoyannis based this film in a Greek classic novel by Kosmas Politis, named 'Eroica'. It was filmed five years after his first masterpiece 'Stella' (1955) starring the mercurial Melina Mercouri. Eroica means heroic and generally means a hero or heroine who fulfills the definitions of what is considered good and noble in the originating culture, typically the willingness to sacrifice the self for the greater good. So, this is a story of two boys and their actions and flaws which lead them to their downfall.At first, we have Alekos. A handsome boy of fifteen, that realizes that he is in love with Monica the daughter of the British Ambassador. He is also a member of the teenage boys gang. The leader in the gang is Loizos. The film begins with the accidental death of Andreas, Loizo's best friend, by Nestoras, and the reactions of the boys to this tragic event. Loizos trying to cope with the event, realizes that he is the illegitimate son of his mother's adulterous affair. He abandons the gang and leaves with a theatrical group to find himself. Alekos trying to establish himself as the new leader of the gang, burns down the house of Nestor. He wins the love of Monica, but he loses his self-respect. The end is tragic. Cacoyannis succeeds in creating beautiful images and a romantic vision. The viewer feels sympathy for the arrogant, cocky and heroic Loizos, and sympathy for the imprudent and romantic Alekos. Monica seems beautiful, vain and empty of feelings, the creature that symbolizes the end of the boy's childhood. The only disadvantage of the film is that Kosmas Politi's poetic words and theories seem 'heavy' to be heard from teenagers. Jenny Russell is good but sometimes, you feel that the burden of the role is too big for her. Both Alekos and Loizos are very good actors for their ages. I like the film. It is rather slow, but that helps the final climax and tragedy.
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