Yannis Smaragdis – Kavafis AKA Cavafy (1996)

“Constantine P. Cavafy, also known as Konstantin or Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis, or Kavaphes (Greek: Κωνσταντίνος Π. Καβάφης) (April 29, 1863 – April 29, 1933) was a renowned Greek poet who lived in Alexandria and worked as a journalist and civil servant. In his poetry he examined critically some aspects of Christianity, patriotism, and homosexuality, though he was not always comfortable with his role as a nonconformist. He published 154 poems; dozens more remained incomplete or in sketch form. His most important poetry was written after his fortieth birthday.

This movie about the greatest modern Greek poet was met with criticism from Greek audiences on two grounds. It focuses almost exclusively on Cavafy’s sexuality (a topic the average Greek high school teacher still prefers to bypass) and it presents the peculiar innovation of having Cavafy not speak a single word throughout the entire movie. Many Greek viewers considered the latter device completely antithetical to the poet’s eloquent verse. The only voice of the poet in the movie are his poems which are recited in the background over many scenes.

The movie does not cover all of Cavafy’s life in detail but sketches the main episodes and definitely recreates the atmosphere of his poetry. The breathtaking cinematography is light years ahead of most films made in Greece. Everyone interested in the poet’s work should watch it, but better read a short biographical note on him first because the movie itself is too poetic to follow a rigid narrative structure.”

“C.P. Cavafy (1863-1933) was a Greek poet who wrote exquisitely about his beloved cities, Alexandria and Constantinople, and about the beautiful, sexually available men who lived in them. Thanks to Lawrence Durrell’s frequent favorable mention of him in his popular novels The Alexandria Quartet, Cavafy has become a figure of considerable literary interest outside of Greek and homosexual circles. Part biography, part fantasy, but very much in the spirit of the poet’s work, this film begins in 1933 as a young literateur reads to Cavafy (Vassilis Diamandopoulos), lying abed in an Alexandrian hospital. Cavafy drifts away into memories from his life and the film takes up his story from childhood.”
Clarke Fountain, AllMovie

“Yannis Smaragdis’ Cavafy was a remarkable yet uneven attempt to depict the biography of the great poet—a film that tried to reconstruct visually the temporality of his poems through an introspection which, in a strange way, resisted the challenge of Cavafy’s homosexuality. Through its over-aestheticization, the film undervalues the male body as the ultimate hypertext in Cavafy’s poems. Sensuality without sexuality makes the film somehow a middle-class exercise in mainstreaming Cavafy’s eroticism. Actor Dimitris Katalifos gave a compelling performance full of sensitivity and reserve, although occasionally he looks lost and bewildered, showing that something greater was happening in the mind of the poet at the very
moment when he was enjoying his sexuality…”
Vrasidas Karalis, A History of Greek Cinema, p. 236, Continuum

1.28GB | 1h 15m | 1024×576 | mkv


Language(s):Greek, English, French
Subtitles:English, Greek

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