We had a great intern this week helping out with our project, and she found this program just in time for Greek Independence Day.  Here’s what she has to say:

Today is Greek Independence Day, a holiday celebrating Greece’s revolution against the Ottoman Empire. In honor of the holiday, we’d like to share Studs’ celebration of Greek culture from 1968, a dark moment in Greece’s history. Less than a year before this program was broadcast, a far-right military junta had staged a coup in Greece; for the next seven years, the Greek people lost virtually all of their political freedom and civil liberties and lived in fear of arrest, exile, and torture.

Studs had a great talent for examining the intersection of art and political activism, and this exploration of Greek music, theater, and film shows that talent. With traditional Greek music and conversations with actress (and future member of Greek Parliament) Melina Mercouri, director Jules Dassin, actress Irene Papas, and singer Nikos Gounaris, Studs placed Greece’s rich cultural history in contrast with the repressive political situation of the time. Irene Papas brings up the role of Antigone as an example: “Sophocles wrote [Antigone] against the tyranny; so the heroine is someone who represents an idea. It’s like in modern times, a revolutionist, a partisan, a person that goes against a thing that is fascistic, tyrannic, and all that.”

Melina Mercouri, 1985

Melina Mercouri, 1985

In her interview, Melina Mercouri speaks passionately about her country and speaks out against the military regime’s censorship, anti-Communist blacklisting, and brainwashing.

“I want to speak about the Greek people and this country, which is the most beautiful country in the world,” Mercouri says. “I want to tell you that the Greeks are brave. The Greeks have humor. The Greeks know how to love. The Greeks know how to cry. The Greeks know how to die with a song.”

Photo credit: By Bart Molendijk / Anefo (Nationaal Archief) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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