Greece Literature and Cinema

Greece Literature and Cinema


At the beginning of the 21st century. Neo-Greek literature is experiencing a crucial and fruitful moment also in reference to the problems posed by European integration in a globalized world. For the country, the most important events of recent years were joining the euro (2001), and in 2004 the elections that turned the national political landscape upside down, the victory of the European football championship in Lisbon (Euro 2004) and the realization of the Olympics in Athens (2004) with the inaugural ceremony broadcast live in Eurovision which underlined the continuity of Greek civilization (ancient, Byzantine and neo-Greek). In all this ferment, the very interesting panorama of neo-Greek literature presents two fundamental characteristics: the coexistence of three generations (from the seventies, eighties and nineties) in dialogue with each other and,

The latest generation, whose representatives began publishing in the 1990s, promotes the almost absolute autonomy of every single poetic voice. All this earned her the title of Generation of the Poetic Crisis or Digital Loneliness. They are the young people born after the fall of the dictatorship, they are part of the first and second generation of digital natives, witnesses of the historical developments of the wars in the former Yugoslavia and in the Middle East: on the one hand, they lived live the terrorist attack with the collapse of the Twin Towers and the death of thousands of people in September 2001 and, on the other hand, they witnessed the preparations and the solemn realization of the Olympic Games in the summer of 2004 in Athens. Their literary career began in almost total confusion, weighed down by the difficulty of managing the past and the uncertainty of the future. Over the years, however, this pressure seemed to turn into a fruitful reflection characterized by a critical position on history that often bordered on skepticism,

The edition of two poetic anthologies is very significant: I gheometrìa mìas athèatis gheniàs. Anthologhìa piìsis tis geniàs tu ’90 (2002, The geometry of an invisible generation. Poetic anthology of the ’90 generation) and Hellenica. To kenùrio entòs i pèran tis glòssas. Anthologhìa nèon piitòn (2009, Hellenica. The new, inside and beyond the language. Anthology of the new poets), with which the mapping of the contemporary neo-Greek poetic scene in the turn of the century is attempted. Ghiannis Alexandropulos, Charìlaos Michalopulos, Aglaìa Dilis, Dimitris Anghelìs, Ghiannis Efthimiadis, Anghelikì Siguru, Evi Bukli, Gheorghìa Triantafillidu, Charis Psarràs, Aristea Papalexogreca and Tellos Filis are just some of the protagonists of the new poetic scene.

In recent years, the literary landscape has been enriched by the voices of writers of non-Greek origin who have incorporated the gaze of the foreigner and the native into their art. Significant is the case of the young poet from Thessaloniki, Eno Agolli (b.1994), of Albanian origin, whose first collection, Piitikò ètio (2015, Causa poetica), has just been published.


Greek cinema at the beginning of the 21st century. still appears marked by the presence of Thodoros Anghelopulos, who died in 2012, after all a veteran of the masterpiece Mia aioniòtita kai mia mera (1998; Eternity and a day) and author in 2004 of another significant film Trilogìa I: Tolivàdi pou dakrỳzei (La source of the river), before ending his business prematurely with Trilogìa II: I skoni tou hronou (The dust of time) of 2008: all films that reflect on the history of Greece and whose expressive tradition, that of tragedy, is reworked, as is evident above all in the staging and openly theatrical acting of To livàdi pou dakrỳzei.

Detaching itself from this aegis and turning towards the communicative aporias of capitalist and spectacular society, the new Greek cinema that has established itself in the last decade has expressed itself above all in the work of Yorgos Lanthimos (b.1973), a director who trained in the 1990s working in disparate contexts of audio-video production: from short films for some theatrical dance companies, to commercials, music videos, etc.; areas that allowed him to refine his style and his idea of ​​cinema, centered on a grotesque schedule and on the theme of the possibilities and the drifts of language (especially the gestural and iconographic one) within the contemporary. After O kalỳteròs mou filos, co- directed with Lakis Lazopoulos in 2001, Lanthimos shot Kinètta in 2005, story of individuals wandering in spaces and situations devoid of meaning, who wriggle awkwardly, reproducing, under the command of a voice recorded on tape, the codes of the accatto television show, to recreate the dynamics of some events ‘in the studio’ violent. The fulcrum of the film, but, one would say, of the entire work of Lanthimos, is therefore not the emptiness or squalor of a Greece devoid of humanity, but rather the mimicry of the subjects, clumsy and mechanical, part of a spectacular linguistic system devoid of any meaning that they are not the knots themselves (all external) of the staging: a metacinematographic character that in the end cannot but reflect, going beyond the precise reference to the situation of the country, the general postmodern condition. In fact after Kynòdontas (2009) – which focuses on the distortion of the signifiers of spoken language, showing the furious coercion enacted in a segregated family – the discourse is completed in Àlpeis (2011, known as Alps), perhaps Lanthimos’ masterpiece, which the system of the ‘recitation’ of the characters (a language of gestures that is ramshackle and laughable even more than in Kinètta), placing at the center of the film an agency of actors who offer to reinterpret dead people for those who have not overcome mourning, in a grotesque show inspired by the icons of mass culture (from Bruce Lee to Prince). It is a cinema that has become paradigmatic in Greece, which can be traced back to at least two important films released later: Attenberg (2010) by director Athina Rachel Tsangari, who remains faithful, but with greater lightness, to the linguistic discourse of Lanthimos; and Miss Violence (2013) by Alexandros Avranas, who instead directs her gaze to the denunciation (of the family), completely expelling Lanthimos’ philosophical-semiological analysis.

Greek cinema