.. And they all go to the seashore….   1 comment

Pote Tin Kyriaki – Never on Sunday – 1960
Director: Jules Dassin
Country: Greece
Runtime: 91 mins
Cast: Melina Mercouri, Jules Dassin, Giorgos Fountas

Pote Tin Kyriaki (Never on Sunday) is a greek satirical comedy movie directed by American director, actor Jules Dassin which tells the story of a bubbling, no-strings-attached, vibrant, life-embracing prostitute named Ilya (Melina Mercouri) who makes no prices but goes out with someone only if she likes the person.

She lives in a small port town of Piraeus in Greece and almost every person in the town is acquainted with her. Homer Thrace (Jules Dassin) an amateur (textbook) philosopher, Grecophile and in his quest of finding definitive truth lands in Piraeus, he goes into a bar and shows his appreciation towards the male dancer, who gets really infuriated at his gesture because in Greek culture when a man dances, it’s for himself, it is for his soul. Ilya rescues Homer from the angry mob and explains to them that he only applauded because he liked the boogie.Homer further explains why he came to Greece; he is really intrigued for the fact that Greece being the cradle of culture was a very happy country.  What made it fall? What happened to it? He wants to find the truth. He becomes aware that she is a prostitute who likes Greek tragedies also one who does not believe in Aristotle because of his low opinion on women. Out of the blue, he becomes conscious that Ilya who is beautiful and corrupt is the personification of the whole world. She becomes the symbol of his quest, and the answer to the mystery.

Its Ilya’s birthday and she invites all of her friends to party and each one of them loves to hear Ilya tell the stories esp on greek tragedies, the irony is that even she has no idea of what the story is all about. She voices story of Medea in her own fashion, whatever in the play is unpleasant, she changes it , she rejects anything that to her is ugly and for a Greek tragedy, she gives it a happy ending. Homer finds it impossible to believe in her logic, decides to educate her, he wants to place Reason, in place of fantasy. Morality, instead of immorality. They watch a play and Homer decides to enlighten Ilya about logic and attempts to clear Ilya’s elegant ignorance on Greek tragedies, to bring her back to harmony. Ilya gets very uncomfortable and exchanges a few words to him that he is making her unhappy and doesn’t like him because before she met him she was crazy about the Greek tragedy.

Disillusioned, discouraged she enters the bar and all the regulars are worried because they’ve never known Illya with a gloomy face. Jorgaki (Titos Vandis) hums a charming song for her which lifts her spirits to which Homer expresses his conjecture of so called elementary psychiatry in regard to Jorgaki’s persona in which he states “He’s a man with a deep problem, There’s a profound inner reason.to it because all his life he has associated only with a certain kind of woman. The real reason is that he hates all women because He hated his mother”. Jorgaki gets very angry that he wants to cut Homer’s throat. Homer, embarrassed by the recent events meets the local don who also wants lllia to retire purely business reasons. It’s a win-win proposition that he offers to Homer who gladly accepts where in he has to prove to her that his way of life is better than hers.

Homer musters up courage to talk to Ilya and asks a basic question to her that what exactly is it that makes her happy? To which Ilya replies with a great deal of simplicity
The sun, he shines on me. He makes me happy.
I eat a good fish, he makes me happy.
I touch you. If you feel good, I’m happy.
Homer gets annoyed with this answer and explains to her that she lives by Stoic, Epicurean philosophies. Watching, experiencing happiness that is sensual, physical and further quotes Aristotle the true happiness comes from the pleasure of the mind. That the greatest happiness is the joy of understanding. He asks her two weeks of her life and assures that she will change her attitude, her outlook towards life. He teaches her basic Geography, Politics, Arts, Literature. Though she feels very alienated she sticks to the routine which bores her to the core. She may have changed a little but her passions remain in one piece, she gently hums “Ta Paidia tou Peiraia” (The children of Piraeus) which clearly expresses her authenitc identity. This song won the Academy Award, the first one to do so for the Best Original Song category. Ilya becomes aware of Homer’s treachery via her friend Despo. She throws him out of her place and succeeds in leading the prostitutes on a strike until the rents are cut. The scene shifts into the bar where Homer has again exposed his intellectual psychotherapy , this time on Taki the bouzouki man. Homer’s analysis is that if Taki couldn’t read music, he was no real musician and he never would be. Taki is disgusted, horror-struck and vows never to play bouzouki again. Ilya butts in, gracefully explains to taki if birds were to read music? So should the birds stop singing? She brings smile on his face and they all sing, dance and in the end they all go to the seashore! :)

Pote Tin Kyriaki is a simple wonderful feel-good movie which lays more emphasis on the individualism and also on different principles, approach towards understanding of Life, Happiness. Melina Mercouri plays a challenging role of being a prostitute with a golden heart, she effortlessly creates a special impression with the character of being a fiercely independent, self-made woman who has no shame and is so unique that she has inherent magical abilities to bring peace and comfort to everyone associated with her.

The movie focuses on two contrasting facets, Homers text book interpretation of True Happiness vs Ilya’s practical, down-to-earth approach towards Life and being happy, Though Homer knows much about the world he lacks in basic understanding of values and its interpretations with the everyday life, For Ilya it takes only few seconds to know about a person. Ilya’s persistent ignorance towards sadness is her greatest strength, and Homer believes A whore can’t be happy. A whorish world can’t be happy¸and ultimately it is proven false. The movie elucidates that one does not have to read or know what Aristotle said or talked about logic or happiness, nor use extremely intellectual psychiatry terms to understand  love, peace, happiness, they can be found anywhere; you just have to have an open heart to receive it, appreciate it and see the beauty in the small, insignificant things and the one who does comprehend it always go to the seashore.  :)



One response to “.. And they all go to the seashore….

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  1. Who plays Taki in the movie. I cannot find any credits anywhere that list him. I have an idea that he may have been one of the more famous and great bouzouki players of Greece at the time, but am not sure. I would love to know. BTW, why is he never listed in the credits for this great film?

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