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ELECTRA/ Elektra

Director: Michael Cacoyannis

Cast: Irene Papas, Yannis Fertis, Aleka Katselli, Theano Ioannidou, Notis Peryalis, Takis Emmanuel, Phoebus Rhazis and Manos Katrakis

Music by Mikis Theodorakis

Greek director Michael Cacoyannis to the screen Euripides’ tragedy of a troubled woman trapped in a cycle of murder and revenge. Irene Papas is outstanding as the doomed heroine. Electra is the daughter of King Agamemnon, who ruled over Mycenae. When Agamemnon was murdered by his queen and her lover, Electra was confined within her father’s castle while her brother Orestes fled for safety.

Years pass and hard times overcome the people of the land. Electra is married off to an older peasant man, and effectively exiled from her rightful place as Princess of Mycenae. At once dark artistic and moving, Electra is a powerful film. Its black and white cinematography by Walter Lassally is as symbolic and fiercely provocative as any Greek tragedy could ever hope to be.

Produced by Michael Cacoyannis
Original Music by Mikis Theodorakis
Cinematography by Walter Lassally
Film Editing by Leonidas Antonakis
Art Direction by Spyros Vassiliou
Costume Design by Spyros Vassiliou
Production Management: Yannis Petropoulakis
Sound Department: Mikes Damalas

Films Awards

Winner Technical Grand Prize Cannes Film Festival 1962

Nominated Golden Palm, Cannes Film Festival 1962

Nominated Academy Award Best Foreign Language Film 1963

IMDB - User comments

Apollo Movie Guide [Patrick Byrne]

Biography of Irene Pappas
Born on 3 September 1926, Chilimodion, Corynth, Greece

Irene Papas is the modern embodiment of classic Greek plays, her great tragic face so fiercely beautiful that it limited her roles in Hollywood movies. Still, she is well remembered from Zorba the Greek and The Guns of Navarone as well as The Brotherhood, The Power and the Prize and Anne of the Thousand Days.

Her appearance in the 1969 Academy Award winner, Z, directed by her fellow Greek-in-exile, Costa-Gavras, was as much political statement as performance. Papas lived outside her native land during much of the 1960's and 1970's. The name Irene is the Greek word for peace.

Papas' lasting glory as an actress comes from her modern interpretations of the plays of Aesehylus, Sophocles and Euripides in Greece and other European countries, and also in the United States. Here, she appeared in Iphigenia in Aulis in 1967 off - Broadway; in Medea in 1975 at the Circle in the Square and at the same venue in 1980 in The Bacchae. Each production was treated as a major theatrical event by critics and theater-goers. She also appeared on Broadway in 1966 opposite Jon Voight in That Summer-That Fall.

Film-goers around the world know her best from a handful of film adaptations of the Greek classics made between 1962 and 1979: Antigone, Electra, The Trojan Women, and Iphigenia.

Irene Papas was born in a small village near Corinth to schoolteachers. Her mother, Eleni, awakened her imagination with fairy tales and her father, a teacher of classical drama, nurtured and shaped her aesthetics. As a child she made dolls from sticks and rags, changing the black kerchiefs as appropriate to her own personally-directed dramas.

Papas received classic training at the National School of Dramatic Arts in Athens from age 15, and started her career as a singer-dancer in variety shows. Soon she was a well-known actress, working at the Popular Theatre of Greece. In time, she came to believe that the typically stilted presentations of Greek classics were not only tedious but probably not how they were originally performed. She evolved a more naturalistic, conversational style of acting which made her performances all the more riveting.

Trivia Irene Pappas
Aunt of Manousos Manousakis
Aunt of Aias Manthopoulos
Festival tribute at the Créteil International Women's Film Festival, France. [2000]

2002: She was named "Europe's woman", a title given to women who offer a lot to European civilization. In her speech, she sang a Greek folklore song.

Irene Papas works in Portugal, where she has a theatre were she plays Greek tragedies in their native language. She has no intention of returning to Greece to play in theatre, because she has suffered from continuous negative criticisms. She starred as the Greek heroine of 1821 (when Greek fought the Turks) in the film Bouboulina (1959). She was a personal friend of the Greek prime-minister Andreas Papandreou.

Irene Papas, like the other star of International Fame Melina Mercouri (Never on Sunday, Topkapi, has recorded some LPs (now available as CDs) which have gained the status of classical music in Greece, and are very popular around the Greek Ordothox Easter. The names of the records are 'Odes' and 'Rapsodies'. She has recorded 15 traditional songs, and hymns of the Greek Orthodox church. The songs and hymns have been re-arranged by the Oscar-winning composer Vangelis Papathanassiou (Chariots of Fire). She has also recorded songs of Mikis Theodorakis (Zorbas the Greek), but this particular LP has been out of stock for many decades, although it had been said that during 2004 it will be published again.

She was discovered by Elia Kazan.

Federico Fellini was a huge admirerer of her work.

She was a dear friend of Katharine Hepburn, with whom she starred in "The Trojan Women". Hepburn once said that she is "one of the best actresses in the history of cinema".
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