UCLA’s Greek Film Retrospective Is Full of Treasures : Two films by veteran director Nicos Papatakis, a revival of Michael Cacoyannis’ superb ‘Stella’ and a masterpiece from Theo Angeloupoulos are on tap.


The UCLA Film Archive’s richly rewarding “Cine-Mythology: A Retrospective of Greek Film” continues Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in UCLA’s Melnitz Theater with two films by veteran director Nicos Papatakis.

“The Shepherds” (1967) is one of many films in the series that clearly have their roots in Greek tragedy. It is set in a remote, impoverished mountain community where a peasant woman dares to offer her son Thanos (Giorgios Dialogmenos) in marriage to Despina (Olga Carlatou), the daughter of the local landowner.

The mother’s act sets in motion a catastrophic chain of events in which the proud, contemptuous Despina and the miserable, unprepossessing Thanos, who wants only his mother’s permission to emigrate to Australia, end up fleeing together over the rocky terrain, linked in a love-hate relationship that reveals much criticism of the oppressive forces of tradition and economic inequity.

“The Photograph” (1986) is no less bleak but far more accessible and captivating, an indictment of the Greek junta in the form of a parable on corrupt power in which a young man (Christos Sangas), hounded by his dead father’s communist past, takes refuge with a kindly, lonely older cousin (Aris Retsos) in Paris only to exploit him cruelly.


One of the most famous Greek films of all, Michael Cacoyannis’ 1955 “Stella” (Thursday at 7:30 p.m.) introduced the vibrant, beautiful Melina Mercouri to the screen and to international audiences as well. In the title role Mercouri plays a popular singer in a bouzouki tavern who lives strictly by her own rules, loving a man honestly and totally but refusing commitment.

She meets her match in a macho soccer player (Giorgos Foundas), as proud and sexy as she is. A simple, powerful film enlivened by Manos Hadjidakis’ infectious bouzouki score. It will be followed by Nikos Koundouros’ 1954 “Magic City,” a neo-realist story about the inhabitants of an Athens shantytown, which was unavailable for preview.

Whereas Stavros Tornes’ surreal allegory “Balamos” (Saturday at 7:30 p.m.) is tedious and obscure in the utmost, Theo Angeloupoulos’ 1984 “Voyage to Cythera,” following at 9, is yet another masterpiece from one of the world’s greatest directors.

A modern odyssey of astonishing beauty and grandeur that takes on mythological overtones, it stars Manos Katrakis, a noble-looking veteran stage star in what proved to be his screen farewell. He is cast as a political refugee who returns to Greece after a 32-year exile in Russia and wants only to settle down in his simple home in the mountains; the film evolves into an eloquent lament, sparked by occasional shafts of dark humor, of the lingering and terrible toll exacted by the Greek civil war.


Sunday evening brings another landmark in the Greek cinema from Michael Cacoyannis: his venturesome 1977 film of Euripides’ “Iphigenia,” shot in natural settings and starring the magnificent Irene Papas.

It will be followed by Alexis Damianos’ highly praised 1971 “Evdokia,” unavailable for preview but said to deal with the conflicts that bedevil a marriage between an army sergeant and a former prostitute.

Dimos Avdeliodis’ 1986 “The Tree We Hurt"--Sunday at 2 p.m.--is one of the most charming offerings in the series, a lyrical record of the summer of 1960 in the life of an adolescent schoolboy (Yannis Avdeliodis) who’s beginning to take notice of girls for the first time and is also commencing to comprehend the inexplicability of life’s injustices.

Information: (310) 206-FILM, 206-8013.