Sunday, April 24, 2011

Directors of Greek soaps, well one soap in particular though it possibly applies to others, have made some quite remarkable discoveries. Firstly they have come to the conclusion that as the camera used in the making of film and television programmes is called a movie camera that means it should move, and boy, does it move! It never seems to stop moving until there is the real danger of motion sickness setting in in the eyes of the viewer. The director also likes to have some dressing in the foreground that stands between the camera and the subject, a large glass vase on a table top for example, with or without flowers, which means the camera has to move either slightly left or right, probably one direction after the other and then in reverse, to keep the subject in shot. The subject meanwhile will be talking on his/her mobile phone, American cell, Greek kineto, because this is the other great discovery, and not a scene goes by when actors haven’t got their hands glued to the sides of their heads as they chat away on this wretched instrument. But miracle of miracles as Tevye or Tzeitel might have said they have also discovered the split screen so there is no need to cut from one character to the other during a phone call, you can watch them both simultaneously. But there is more; not only can the screen be split, it can be split again, making four separate pictures and, bless me, even five. Gosh!

Okay, so okay, having sent that up as far as it is likely to go, let me move on to talk about something really worthwhile. I refer (forgive me if I have written about this before) to the adaptation of Victoria Hislop’s book, “The Island.” Thank God it’s a period piece and there’s never a mobile phone in sight, but more than that, it is beautifully directed and photographed in the exact location, is so wonderfully atmospheric but above all is superbly acted by everyone involved from the leads to the smallest bit parts. By that I mean you simply forget it is being acted at all, unlike I am afraid the soaps where everyone tends to go a wee bit over the top and you can see the wheels turning. The cast is headed by a well-known Greek actor, Stelios Mainas who portrays beautifully and most sympathetically a fisherman whose boat is used to ferry lepers from the village on the mainland to the island of Spinalonga where there was a colony for many years and who early on in the story loses his wife to the dreaded disease. Now Maria, the elder of his two daughters on the eve of her wedding, the village having already celebrated the betrothal, discovers a patch on her leg and a medical examination confirms that she now has leprosy. I don’t have all that long to go I suppose in this vale of woe but, as long as I do live, I don’t think I will ever be privileged, and that is not too strong a word, to see another performance like the one this actress, Gioulika Skafida gives, from the moment of discovering the blemish to her father taking her across to the island. In this particular episode I sat in the saloni weeping uncontrollably. And even thinking of it as I write the tears well up. Oh, come on, Glyn! What’s the matter with you? This is fiction, you silly man. This is television. I don’t recollect ever in my life being moved to this degree by fiction or by anything watched on television. When Miss Skafida is on the screen you cannot take your eyes off her and as though her wonderful performance isn’t enough she is incredibly beautiful and has quite stolen my heart.

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