ISSN: 2241-6692

Modern Space and Narration in the Greek Films of the Interwar Period

Anna Poupou


This article studies the representation of modern space and the evolution of cinematic narration within the narrow context of feature films produced in Greece in the 1920s and 1930s, in order to examine the construction of filmic narrative space and the influences, affinities and imitations between the Greek films and their international models. The purpose of this study is to describe and interpret the unstable, uneven, fragmented and sporadic expressions of cinematic depictions of modern urban space in Greece. The films under examination are Villar’s Adventures (Joseph Hepp, 1924), Astero (Dimitris Gaziadis, 1929), Apaches of Athens (Dimitris Gaziadis 1930), The Wizard of Athens (Achilleas Madras 1931), Social Decay (Stelios Tatassopoulos 1932), The Girl Refugee (Togo Mizrahi 1938) and a few surviving fragments of other films. This examination will focus on the mapping of the locations and the implications of urban space in the organisation of the narration in order to propose a typology of depictions of the Athenian modernity in the 1920s and 1930s, providing an introduction on the Athenian urbanism and describing the radical architectural and social mutations and the ideological re-orientations that transformed the Athenian cityscape in terms of class, ethnicity, social mobility and geography. In this context, this essay attempts to answer the following questions: which of these transformations are visible in the feature films of the 1920s and 1930s? How specific film genres generate urban iconographies in this corpus? How do all these urban themes or spatial motifs reflect the passage from the amateur and non-professional production of the 1920s to the more canonical, stereotyped and, more or less, ‘classical’ narration, that follows the examples of mainstream cinema regarding city representations? The article was developed in the framework of the European research programme “I-Media Cities. Innovative e-Environments for Research on Cities and the Media”.

Keywords: early Greek cinema, city and cinema, modernism, narration, urban history