Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Maria Panourgia & Sofia Georgovassili in "Mavro Livadi" BR1080 [2009 Greece]

I'm only beginning to discover Greek cinema, but whatever I've seen so far is refreshing (and educational too - for e.g., now I know a Janissary is not a union of workers in the cleaning profession but a Christian boy involuntarily conscripted into the imperial guards of the Ottoman empire, as a kind of 'blood tribute' paid by non-Muslim families).

Vardis Marinakis's Greek drama "Mavro Livadi" [Eng. Title: Black Field] is an unusual romance set in late medieval Greece, when it was apparently part of the Ottoman empire. A Janissary escapes from his masters and ends at the doorstep of a remote convent-nunnery, exhausted and badly wounded. As part of her religious commitment, the Mother superior takes him in and treats his wounds, but also stays loyal to the empire by informing the authorities that they have held a deserted Janissary - the reward would be useful in keeping the convent running. A young nun however falls in love with him, and not only does she help him escape, but also follows him into the forest - a return to nature for both the characters. But the nun has a little secret too - she is a (Christian) boy placed in the convent to avoid being conscripted as a Janissary..!

The film is beautifully made with some stunning cinematography and locations, like the Palamidi castle where many of the scenes were shot. And a lot of thought had gone into the costumes and art direction, which transport us to a Byzantine monastery quite vividly, which gives the film a Gothic feel. If nothing else, it is a substantial visual feast worth savouring, which in Blu-ray is even more sumptuous - and the scenes below were also cut from it.

Scene 1: Maria Panourgia
It appears Sister Areti hasn't yet fully renounced carnal pleasure, and when she'd been assigned to treat the janissary's wounds, she uses this opportunity to also treat herself - considering how rare man-meat is in the secluded monastery. Sister Areti is played by Maria Panouria (or Maria Panouria as IMDB would have us believe - I had to do a bit of digging to find out who she was because the film credits were in Greek script, and I'm certainly no medieval scholar!).

Maria Panourgia in Mavro Livadi

Bonus Compilation: Sofia Georgovassili
This may not be up to everyone's interest - but I'm posting it anyway for its novelty. Sister Anthi has a secret - she's a Christian boy tucked away in the convent to avoid conscription. Despite the piety, painful adolescence draws Anthi to the janissary, instead of Sister Areti, her room mate who had been attracted to Anthi but not reciprocated. For obvious reasons, there are no topless scenes of Sister Anthi, because she is after all played by an actress, Sofia Georgovassili.

Sofia Georgovassili in Mavro Livadi

Scene Guide:
  • Anthi resorts to self-flagellation to keep sexual thoughts at bay.
  • We get to see who Anthi really is, when she cleanses herself in the bath.
  • Anthi escapes the monastery along with the janissary, who had fancied her, but he soon gets a rude shock.
  • This is a primeval scene - as far as I remember, there are no dialogues in the film from this point - it is nature taking its course henceforth, and even if the theme is homosexual, it is sensual all the same, certainly helped by the knowledge that Sister Anthi is after all played by a woman.


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