MEDEA, A Rare Cinematic Ecstasy
Elie Castiel, KinoCulture, Montreal
A kind of visual and sound ecstasy, rarely felt in current cinema.
A striking face to face between the Artist (Athanitis) and the Poet (Euripides).
A work, undoubtedly his best, which defies the rules of linear narration even if the horizontality of the shot, the annoying camera and the taste for founding tragedy manifests itself throughout the film.
But an addition, once again, a kind of normative transgression which consists in justifying the taking charge of narrative moments, outside the original work. Like an irreversible sin of youth that we do not want to condemn.
The first ten minutes of Medea and the ten finals are responsible for showing the (anti)heroine in a position of strength, a woman facing the austere nature of an ancient Greece led by an almost inhospitable land, but adored by the Gods, the threatening winds of this empyrean where angry deities regularly appear. Medea (and Athanitis) is aware of this, since her proximity to the Gods allows her this affront. No dialogue, only the sounds of nature (magnificently orchestrated), disturbing, surreal, out of the ordinary, replacing the human tranquility, it is manufactured.
Magnificent black and white images as well (no doubt a tribute to the first transpositions of Greek tragedies by Michael Cacoyannis and which, here, Yannis Fotou's camera takes pleasure in conquering with remarkable accuracy.
The body and especially the mind come together in a kind of intimate, almost incestuous movement which corresponds "royally" to this link which exists, in every individual, this border between the concreteness of reality and the conceptual, the abstract of thought.
Homage rather than betrayal to the Hellenic author. A striking face to face between the Artist (Athanitis) and the Poet (Euripides). A dialogue not of the deaf, but of an accomplice, centuries later, but which seem to be out of time.
There is also a desire to get closer to a current audience. The best way: language. A Greek of today, not as an everyday language, but refined, easy to understand, classic in its diction. An oral relationship to the other is defined as a seductive political bias. The rhetoric of the verb has never been so conciliatory.
The important moment of the film, the one everyone is waiting for, will not be shown. We guess it through magnificent ellipses, nameless transitions that say it all.
The Medea of Athanitis is the story of an unfathomable negotiation between the main interested party and Jason, between the same and Creon, king of Thebes, between her and Aegean, who seems to sign a sort of amicable contract with him, because that he seems to understand her.
And then, an imagined era, not that of ancient Greece, but of a Western Middle Ages opposed to the Byzantine Empire. Why this bias? Whatever. The proposal is a free choice.
Finally, Medea is a surprising film, not only for its mastery over the shot, hence a duration that is limited to the main theme, but more than anything, for diegetic analysis, unlike mimesis (too demonstrative) to which a filmmaker totally in love with his project subjects us.
And a magical final shot where the cinema integrates admirably with the narration. The technique enters into perfect union with the narrative intention, driving us in a kind of visual and sound ecstasy, rarely felt in current cinema.