August 10, 2009

Video depicting the iconoclasm on the Parthenon escapes censorship

Posted at 12:52 pm in Acropolis, Greece Archaeology, New Acropolis Museum

More coverage of the reversal of the original decision to censor depictions of the iconoclasm from a short fim about the history of the Athenian Acropolis which is on display in the New Acropolis Museum.

Agence France-Presse

Agence France-Presse – 8/4/2009 4:02 PM GMT
Acropolis Museum backs down in Parthenon video row

Greece’s new Acropolis Museum on Tuesday said it will undo controversial editing of a video showing the Parthenon temple vandalised by early Christians in a row that has sparked complaints of Church-backed censorship.

The video will be restored after its maker, renowned French-Greek filmaker Costa-Gavras, said he meant to attach no blame to Christian priests for the destruction, museum director Dimitris Pantermalis said.

“Following this self-evident clarification which the museum accepts … the information film will resume display,” Pantermalis said in a statement.

The museum had excised a 12-second segment from the video showing robed figures hacking away sculptures from the iconic Parthenon when Christianity supplanted paganism in Greece after the fourth century AD.

The Acropolis Museum initially denied censoring Costa-Gavras, noting that the segment was cut “to avoid misunderstanding” as the circumstances of the Parthenon’s transformation into a church are not fully known.

In statements to Greek TV station Mega, Costa-Gavras — a well known director of politically inspired films — had blamed the powerful Orthodox Church for the change.

“I think it’s sad and unacceptable for Greece, a member of the European Union, that the state would bow to pressure from the Church,” the Greek-born filmmaker had said.

The video on the Parthenon’s history shown at the museum, which opened in June, casts light on an episode less known in Greece than other misfortunes that befell the monument in its 2,500-year-old history.

The marble temple was badly damaged during a Venetian siege in 1687 and a large number of the sculptures that survived were removed to London in the early 19th century on the orders of British diplomat Lord Elgin.

New York Times Blogs

Acropolis Museum Won’t Edit Controversial Short Film
By Melena Ryzik

Animated characters are causing scuffles in the religious community – but this time, they’re not in “South Park.”

The newly-opened Acropolis Museum in Greece has reversed a decision to edit part of a short film by the Greek-born director Costa-Gavras after protests and the threat of a lawsuit, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The filmmaker’s animated short, shown as part of a longer film about the history of the Parthenon, included a scene in which cartoon characters wearing dark cloaks climb ladders and destroy part of the Parthenon’s frieze – a well-documented occurrence during the early Byzantine period, when Christians often dismantled pagan landmarks. Officials from the Greek Orthodox Church contended that the scene misrepresented their attitude towards ancient history. After the brief scene was cut, Costa-Gavras, who has won two Oscars (for “Z” and “Missing”), asked that his name be removed from the film and complained to Greek media that he was being subjected to Soviet-style censorship. But when he explained that the cloaked figures were not priests but merely early Christians, the museum decided to reinstate the scene. In the meantime, the entire short was released on YouTube.

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