August 16, 2004

Jules Dassin requests that the Elgin Marbles are returned

Posted at 11:45 pm in Elgin Marbles

Melina Mercouri might be gone, but her husband, the French film director Jules Dassin & the Melina Mercouri Foundation still strive for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures that she spent the later years of her life fighting so hard for.


Greece says give marbles back
Sun 15 August, 2004 10:55
By Paul Majendie

ATHENS (Reuters) – Film director Jules Dassin has made an impassioned plea for Britain to give Greece back the Elgin Marbles — their return to the Parthenon would be the perfect memorial to his late wife, Melina Mercouri.

“It is so wrong. It doesn’t make sense anymore,” said the frail 92-year-old, recovering at his Athens home from a bout of double pneumonia but determined to keep fighting to the end for the cause that so fired his wife.

Dassin, who made Mercouri an international star in “Never on Sunday,” told Reuters in a rare interview: “There is a sense of history that cannot be ignored, a sense of morality.”

British ambassador Lord Elgin removed the famed marbles in the early 19th century and sold them to the British Museum in London.

Since its independence in 1832, Greece has repeatedly requested the return of the treasure which represent about half of the surviving original frieze.

With the Olympics returning to their spiritual homeland, Dassin had been hoping against hope that Britain would finally relent.

“There is some frustration. We had hoped in this Olympic year that there would be a sense of — Oh My God, This is the time,” he said, his outrage burning as fiercely as ever.

“Today is a good time to give them back, as was yesterday and yesteryear and many years ago,” said the president of the Melina Mercouri Foundation for the return of the marbles.

Ten years after Mercouri’s death from lung cancer, Dassin won’t stop campaigning to fulfil her dream.

What would she have said if she was still alive today?

“She would say to the British — Not Yet? Wake Up. But that would only be what she would say in a polite moment. She felt a deep sense of anger,” Dassin said.

Bids to return the marbles, initially revived by actress turned culture minister Mercouri in 1982, have gathered support in Britain from people as varied as former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave.

But Dassin’s heartfelt plea — like so many before — is almost certain to fall on deaf ears.

British Museum director Neil MacGregor told Reuters: “The Greeks have never requested a temporary loan of the marbles around the Olympics. They have always asked for a permanent return. That is out of the question.”

The veteran American director of “Topkapi” and “Rififi,” who became a Greek citizen seven years ago, is fiercely proud of what Athens has achieved in staging the Games after a torrent of criticism over construction delays and security concerns.

Dassin, whose wife had campaigned in vain for Greece to stage the 1996 Games, said: ” I am happy they are back in Greece. But I do object to all the bad mouthing. I resented it a great deal.”

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1 Comment »

  1. Four Of The Finest Ancient Greek Sculptures Are Kept In Museums Away From Their Motherland – Hellas Life said,

    11.07.22 at 11:28 am

    […] “The Greeks say no. Archaeologists and historians, including the British, say no. UNESCO says no, members of the European Parliament say no. To his great surprise, Lord Elgin himself says no!” legendary and Oscar-winning American director, Jules Dassinin famously said about the topic. […]

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