No Sympathy for the Devil it is the first script I ever wrote. It was my first scenario but when I finished it, I had to put it aside. I had to start with a less demanding film as a production and only after Addio Berlin I secured a budget and I could go on. However, Devil was a film challenge, a film full of challenges.
The first challenge came with the first decision: the film would be black and white, again. Nobody was or is shooting in black and white in color time, and even more, no one dares it in two continuous films. In the studio they were talking about the man who abolished the color!
-Why did you choose black and white again? a journalist asked me.
-Because I love the color, I answered and I meant it.
The second challenge was greater. I would not use any stars, none of the renowned at those days. I wanted to make a film absolutely classic, unreal for the Greek standards, which at the same time would break down all the cliches.
None of the new actors I knew, could fit for the role of Eurydice as I had it in my mind: erotic and inexhaustible, earthy and elusive. I made an audition that is remembered as legendary, since many of the unknown candidates became the biggest stars right after. But me, I had to find my actors in other ways.
The third challenge is the sites I chose. Extreme, unknown sites even though they were in the heart of the city. A journalist who came one day in the shooting, she was scared. I was making a futuristic film using only real places without the slightest intervention. I wanted the life that was already written on them. I wanted authenticity and I was guided by my deeply experiential relationship with the city.
"It is not a long time ago that crossing the gate of dreams, I found myself in that part of the earth where is the famous Ravaging City," says a frontispiece of Hawthorn at the beginning of the film. And indeed, Devil is the first film after Addio Berlin that dared to wander to the other Athens without putting some makeup.
It is the first film to discover a city hidden beneath the little-bourgeois stereotypes of the surface. In fact, Devil creates and reconstructs it’s own space and creates the black-and-white topography of a future that is already present.
The fourth challenge came from my choice to place the emblematic legend of Orpheus and Eurydice not in a "pure" natural environment, or even in a province, but in the dirty heart of the city. And at the same time I did the big reversal. The darkness, Hades, is where the hero lives. The nightmarish "other world" is us. The hero will climb to the light to bring his beloved back.
"I lived like everyone in the dark," says Orpheus at the beginning of the film, while an eerie presenter carries often the reassuring messages of the Power. Even the hero's parents will be forced to contact him via a television screen. A society with an authoritarian structure is roughly outlined but in a clear way. The erotic myth becomes the vehicle to talk about something that overcomes its limits; it becomes the occasion for a total view and a comment on our society.
The next, fifth challenge has again it’s source at the myth. I embroided the romantic character of Orpheus' love with an extreme physical dimension. The film has erotic scenes and a provocative demonstration of the naked body that socked. Some have spoken about one step from porn. Perhaps because the film insists on questioning the viewer's position. And because, while you are watching a prolonged erotic scene without clichés and precautions, the actors are nailing you with their eye - for the first time in the movie - turning you into an accomplice observer. Suddenly a schism has been made on the screen and the reality of the film is suddenly pounded to wrap you and remind you of the relationship between a cinematographic work and a viewer.
And of course the sixth challenge is the music of the film. A pure rock style comes aggressively in the foreground. Caution: no rock n roll, not something light, retro and superficial. No memories and replay of familiar listening. Here, there were musical sounds incomprehensible to the current Greek cinema, which together with more classical passages of cinematic music, make up a wide soundtrack combined with a completely constructed in studio sound band, blowing in the air the naive theory of loyalty to reality. But of course the Devil is not just another movie, it is cinema. And as a genuine cinema it creates it’s own universe from the beginning.
The seventh and last at the moment challenge lies on the characters. That is the big gallery of strange characters that appear as living parts of the sites. A series of hidden faces that we encounter as we discover the hidden city through Orpheus's journey. Two of them, Aria and a version of Thirion, years later will become famous in the most popular American series.
Ending, let's get out of the dark world of No Sympathy For The Devil and look at it from outside, next to the raw realistic world of Invisible, my last film. They look at first so different, that someone could be incredibly surprised if, searching under the surface, recognize the same, aesthetically and thematically, invisible line that crosses the two of them.
The same reaction to the arrogance and absurdity of power, as the heroes in both films, are rebellious characters searching for their place in the world. Characters who refuse to accept a life that is designed in absentia. Even the figures of the two central characters (Eurydice and Aris) are identical, in a relationship that exceeds the sexes.
No Sympathy for the Devil
final cut 2017