July 22, 2014
I was fortunate enough to be invited last week to a preview screening (essentially where they drum up intereste from possible distributors etc) for the film Promakhos, which I have already written about previously here.
The event was well attended, with Stephen Fry giving his thoughts on it afterwards and leadng a question & answer session with the two directors.
Marbles Reunited has already done a very good writeup of the event – so I won’t try & repeat their work, but will just give a summary of my own thoughts on the film.
Styled as a legal thriller, it follows the story of one person’s fight to use the courts to secure the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece. There are many dramatic scenes in it, and perhaps the most memorable part is where Paul Debevec’s superlative three-dimensional model of the Parthenon is broght to life in the room, as the people wander around it, stepping into a rebuilt past through the use of virtual reality glasses.
As you can imagine, things do not always proceed smoothly – yet the film’s protagonist manages to maintain his vision & despite the ups & downs remains focussed on the goal of securing the return of the sculptures.
The cinematography is magnificent, and for anyone who has ever spent time in Athens, prefectly manages to capture the spirat of the city, through othersise unremarkable details, in a way that perhaps holds far more of its modern day charm than many films, that only see things through the eyes of a tourist. There are various allusions throught the film to ancient Greece & aspects of mythology, helping to further anchor the present day story into the ethos of ancient Athens & to show the importance of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greeks.
The film is set against the backdrop of the financial crisis & the unrest that followed in Athens – and as such is very much of its time. However, that it just because it takes place now – the story that it is telling could largely be transplanted to any other time in the campaign for the return of the sculptures & would continue to make sense. It is not something that the British Museum can just ignore with the hope that it goes away.
There are a few amusing moments too – particularly, when during the cases, others highlight their own countries requests for the return of arterfacts from the British Museum.
The film is not on display publicly anywhere yet – in the meantime though, you can watch the trailer, to give you a flavour of what it is about.