Kazantzakis: A great movie by Iannis Smaragdis

You feel it from the first second. From the first chord. From the very first shot.

From the first syllable uttered by Odysseus Papasipilopoulos and Marina Kalogirou, that this is not just a film. This is not simply another premier.

You can sense that this is going to be a great movie.

A great Greek man. Nikos Kazantzakis.

A film made by a younger generation of great Greeks.

A film full of light.

A film full of Crete. Full of Greece.

A film about Greece. For the Greeks who cause hurt and for the Greece that heals.

A film about the Greece we conceal inside of us. For the Greece we love. For the Greece we want to reach.

This movie is an ode to love, to friendship, to family, at to the highest ideals.

Iannis Smaragdis at the greatest moment of his career.

A great director and an even greater Greek.

He writes, directs, inspires and gets inspired.

This film gives you the impression of an insight, like this is a metaphysically karmic momentum for him.

A conductor who dares.

And you feel that Kazantzakis – his figure at least and his stature – “gave” the green light to make this film a reality.  You sense it from the very first moment that in a metaphysical way Smaragdis and Kazantzakis agreed upon everything, and have co-directed the whole piece.

It seems like inspiration, power and boldness have been granted to him generously to direct a movie bigger than life itself.

A genius cast. Targeted. Masterfully selected. Polished.

Nikos Kazantzakis could not have been better incarnated/ embodied by anybody other than Odysseas Papasipilopoulos.  The only exception would have been, if Nikos Kazantzakis would have been portraying himself. An actor of enormous caliber, in the greatest role of his life.

Marina Kalogirou was elegant, simple, concrete, earthy, with weight and extraordinary rhythm and without unnecessary coquetries. Maria Skoula was magical as the mother while Argiris Xafis was exuberant and with a huge acting reach, justifying the title as one of the most consistent perhaps actors of his generation. 

An unsurpassed performance by Stathis Psaltis, otherwordly, eerie, metaphysical, ascetic and certainly karmic. Each bit of it contains wisdom, serenity and an absolute katharsis. Iannis Smaragdis offered him the swansong that he deserved. 

Nikos Kardonis blows the doors off as Aggelos Sikelianos. A part for which he clearly studied and prepared for diligently, delivering a flawless performance from beginning to end. Thodoris Atheridis escapes from everything we’ve seen from him up to today, surrendering to the magic touch of Smaragdis. Zeta Douka as Melina Merkouri proves that she can confront roles of great personalities without mimicries and superficial caricaturist performances. Instead she rises to the challenge with moderation, courage and self-confidence.

Stephanos Lenaios, Yulica Skafida, Amalia Arseni, Takis Papamatthaiou, Alexandros Kollatos and the wonderful little one, Alexandros Kambaxis and so many other actors offer the film the continuous peaks that are needed in such a difficult venture. There is no such thing as a small role in such a movie. Each character is a piece in the puzzle of the life of Nikos Kazantzakis. At every twist and turn of the film, at every meaningful start and at every end, an actor gave to the film, the stature and the boost that is critical to keep the audience engaged.

Special mentions

Aris Stavrou, one of the best DoP’s (Directors of Photography) in the country, provides/ offers the film the light and color of Greece, with such absolute success that you want to “break” the screen to taste with your fingertips the Sublime…

Minos Matsas composes the soundtrack of the film and his music feels and sounds like a  handmade weft, so innately Greek that it becomes ecumenical … Rare.

-Set and costume design bear the signature of Giorgos Patsas, the magician of set and costumes especially when it comes to period films.

-Congratulations to the production team, who managed to provide to the film all the unattainable things it needed and deserved. And mainly to the producer Eleni Smaragdi, the guardian angel of Iannis Smaragdis. Another “Helen of Troy”. And just like Eleni Samiou (the crucial woman in the life of Kazantzakis), they are the two great rare women at the side of two great men.

The film does not let you think about what could have been done differently. It leaves no room for you to think of something else, however small. Because this is probably  one of the most important films of modern Greek cinema.

This is a Great Movie. And for unattainable works of art you can not speak in mundane terms.

This is a film that will move and touch you. You will  probably both cry and laugh and you will feel a hand lifting you up and whispering to you: “To the darkness we respond with light”.

Some crazy people. Some unreasonable ones. A handful of  great Greeks managed to make the utopia, paradise on earth. This is just such a moment. And this movie has just begun its long journey. And now it belongs to Greece, it belongs to the whole world.

A film to be  watched by not only all Greeks but also by all those who saw in Hellenism what the soul wants to become when it touches the sky.

With love,

Eftychia Fragou



Nikos Kazantzakis: Odysseas Papaspiliopoulos

Eleni Samiou: Marina Kalogirou

Nikos Kazanatzakis (as a kid): Alexandros Kampaxis

Nikos Kazantzakis (older): Stephanos Linaios

Father of Kazantzakis: Argiris Xafis

Mother of Kazantzakis: Maria Skoula

Aggelos Sikelianos: Nikos Kardonis

Eva Sikelianou: Amalia Arseni

Itka: Gioulika Skafida

Jules Dassin: Alexandros Kollatos

Melina Mercouri: Zeta Douka

Giorgos Zormpas: Thodoris Atheridis

Priest: Staths Psaltis


-Official trailer-




Related Posts