- LULU / PANDORA'S BOX
- DAPHNIS AND CHLOE
- FEDRA
- THE FUGITIVE KIND
- THE TESTAMENT OF ORPHEUS
- PHAEDRA
- HERCULES CONQUERS ATLANTIS
- YOUNG APHRODITES
- CONTEMPT
- PROMETHEUS FROM THE VISEVICE ISLAND
- SANDRA OF A THOUSAND DELIGHTS
- THE GOLDEN THING
- THE TRAVELLING PLAYERS
- EURIDICE BA 2037
- IPHIGENIA
- A DREAM OF PASSION
- CLASH OF THE TITANS
- THE YEARS OF THE BIG HEAT
- ENIOCHUS - THE CHARIOTEER
- ANTIGONE
- EDIPO ALCADE
- THAT'S LIFE
- BLADE RUNNER
- VERTIGO
- MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA
- ORPHEUS
- PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN
- ULYSSES
- HERACLES AND THE QUEEN OF LYDIA
- BLACK ORPHEUS
- ANTIGONE
- ELECTRA
- JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS
- GORGON
- OEDIPUS REX
- ILLIAC PASSION
- THE CANNIBALS
- EDEA
- NOTES FOR AN AFRICAN ORESTEIA
- FOR ELECTRA
- PROMETHEUS IN THE SECOND PERSON
- VOYAGE TO CYTHERA
- ULYSSES' GAZE
- MATRIX
- O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?

ANTIGONE
Greece, 1961


Directed by: Yiorgos Tzavellas. Screenplay: Yiorgos Tzavellas, based on Sophocles’ tragedy. Director of Photography: Dinos Katsouridis. Set Design – Costume Design: Yiorgos Anemoyiannis. Music: Argyris Kounadis. Film Editor: Yiorgos Tsaoulis. Cast: Irene Papas (Antigone), Maro Kontou (Ismene), Manos Katrakis (Creon), Nikos Kazis (Haemon), Ilia Livikou (Queen Eurydice), Yiannis Argyris (Warden), Vyron Pallis (Herald), Thodoros Moridis (Chorus leader), J. Karoussos (Teiresias), Koula Agagiotou. Production: Dimitris Paris for Norma Film Productions Inc. Length: 93 min. Black and white. Awards for leading roles to Manos Katrakis and Irene Papas, and Music Award at the 1961 Thessaloniki Film Festival. Best Actor Award for Manos Katrakis at the 1961 San Francisco Film Festival.

After the fratricidal war between Eteocles and Polyneices for the throne of Thebes, costing both their lives, their uncle, Creon, who became king in the meantime, decrees that Polyneices’ body remain unburied. Antigone, the deceased’s sister, defies the decree by giving her brother a proper burial. King Creon has her arrested and locked up in a cave despite the protests of the people and Haemon, Creon’s son and Antigone’s fianc. The ill-omened prophecies of seer Teiresias make Creon change his mind, however. Unfortunately, it is too late. Haemon finds Antigone hanged in the cave and he takes his own life at her feet. The Queen follows suit when she hears the terrible news. Overwhelmed by all that has taken place, Creon withdraws into isolation.

A bravey try
Outside one of the seven gates of Thebes, the activity is reminiscent of a John Ford western: the camera is static but the actors are weaving busy patterns in front of it. This is a Greek film of a classic Greek tragedy and the director, Yiorgos Tzavellas, adheres to the Sophocles’ dramatisation of the legend but compromises discreetly, now and then, between the most venerable form of theatre and the flexibility of cinema.
[...]
Tzavellas has got himself the formidable task of reconciling Sophocles with cinema, and has succeeded sometimes. His most obvious but at the same time most welcome device is to couple the descriptive narratives delivered by a Sentry and a Messenger with flashbacks that match pictures to the worlds. Thus we witness Antigone’s defiant performance of religious rites over the body of Polyneices during a dust storm, thereby provoking the wrath of Creon; and later, Creon’s relenting visit to the cave where Antigone has been imprisoned, only to discover her dead body and to be present at the bitter death of his son Haemon, who loved her.
Tzavellas also goes so far as to replace some of the concerted Chorus speeches with a single voice heard on the soundtrack while we watch some of his best visual effects. This proves especially valuable when Haemon makes his first entrance, as Antigone is led away by the soldiers. The ordered but dramatic movement and the disembodied words that accompany it set a powerful mood for the subsequent encounter between Creon and his son, in which Haemon speaks on Antigone’s behalf to no avail. And another of these disembodied Chorus speeches is heightened by a fine visual passage that crosscuts between Antigone in her isolation and Haemon, who is sitting on the grass in a natural landscape, his horse close by, the trees in the distance, silhouettes of soldiers on the ramparts. Then, when Antigone has been removed to the cave and left alone there, the Chorus voice echoes chillingly through the darkened caverns.
On the credit side, as well, are several repetitions of the aforementioned Ford tactics, often with the help of horses. But all this industrious effort gives way, time and again, to stricter segments in which the camera, generally static, is constrained to observe actors delivering highly theatrical speeches to one another, and the relative immobility makes the going fairly heavy.
The acting is no more excessive than need be in the circumstances. As Antigone, Irene Papas compromises expertly between theatrical tradition and the cinema close-up: her strong, expressive face, closely observed, is especially eloquent in moments of silent suffering. Manos Katrakis is a persuasive, gaunt-cheeked Creon, catching the willfulness and subsequent apprehension of the man who places politics above piety, and pride above compassion. Between them, these two hold taut the twin threads of the work, the individual defiance of tyranny and tragedy of a heart too hardened in the exercise of power.
Ideally, a more fluent technique was needed to make this Antigone consistent cinema as well as faithful Sophocles; but it remains a brave try, intermittently awkward to be sure, but often enough aglow with enterprise.

Gordon Gow
"Film & Filming", Vol. 9, May 1963