Astero

Gaziadis Dimitris

Greece, 1929

ACTIVITIES

GENERAL DISCUSSION

– What is the film about?
– Who are the main characters? How are the characters represented?
– Where is the plot set? Why?

FILM EXTRACTS

02:5605:00

The Meeting
The Agreement

ACTIVITY 1

Linking Film with Literature: Stella Violanti – Grade A/Senior High
School, Reading-Writing: Tradition
Topics: Gender Equality/Nationalism

Characters:

– In your opinion, what is the relationship between Thymios and Astero?
– In your opinion, what is the relationship between Stamos and Astero?
– Describe, in five words, Astero’s emotions in the beginning of the scene and later, when she meets Stamos.

Film Language:

– How many and what type of shots does this specific scene comprise? (Refer to Manuals-Shot)?
– When does the camera operator choose a lowangle shot and why? (Refer to Manuals-Shot)?
– How important is body language and facial expression? How is Astero framed? What kind of information do we get about her personality and social role?
– What information do we get about the characters’ state of mind from their facial expressions and their body language?
– Why do these two men shake hands? Have they made an agreement? What does this gesture indicate about women’s role in 1920’s society?

Social & Historical Context:

– Why do you think actors wear traditional costume?
– In which ways is everyday life during this period depicted? To what extent do the props, costumes, details of setting and scenery affect your impression of the story? Consider the given information.
– Relate the film’s imagery to female personality characteristics as found in the literary text.
– In your opinion, why has Greek folklore (pastoral idyll) prevailed in the film production of the period?
– When was the film shot? Do you think that the production year affects the way in which we read the film?

ACTIVITY 2

BECOME A CRITIC

Linking Film with Essay Writing – Grade B/Senior High School
Composition – Grade B/Senior High School: Critical Thinking

Read the following reviews, fill in the table according to their main topic, and then try to write your own review. Don’t be strict! Every month the best review will be posted on FV.

The reviews here below were taken from:
Yannis Soldatos, A Century of Greek Cinema, Vol. I 1900-1967,
Kochlias editions, Athens 2001, pp. 152-153

Ethniki Epitheorisi tis Elladas, May 1929

The lyrics of a German poet were the source of inspiration: “Everything has changed in Greece / Time changed everything / Not only / flock and shepherd.”
…Astero is a pleasant surprise! When we first set off to the cinema, we felt half-hearted. We were disappointed by the Greek films we had watched so far. Despite our bias against Greek cinema, we came upon a well-written film with good actors and lighting, made with a lot of care… Astero is a success. Ms. Aliki Theodoridou acts as if she has
performed on screen a thousand roles. She offered us excitement – same as Veakis, who gave a one of a kind performance in numerous scenes, such as the one where he is showing regret before Christ’s iconography. Mr. Moussouris and Mr. Tsakiris are also very, very good.
Astero is a good film, a very good film. And we need to understand that, since Greek cinema does not have at its disposal the artists, means, and artisanship great European businesses do, it should focus primarily on Greek tradition, life and morality. These will always generate a kind of enthusiasm that will leave possible flaws go unnoticed. Mr. Nirvanas seems to have understood this. Hopefully, Dag Film people will, also, get their heads around this idea.

Ro – Ma, Kinimatografikos Astir, 28/4/1929

The third Greek film, released this theatrical season, never reaches the expectations raised by its opening sequence. Let me expand on this: The romance begins quite neatly and evolves in a gentle manner, following Greek landscape iconography tradition. However, it lacks in originality and, hence, fails to capture audience’s attention. From Stamos’ death onwards (the hero dies because otherwise things would get too complicated for
both the writer and the director), the film rushes things and draws a hasty trajectory up until its end. In my opinion, this is the script’s major drawback and one which affects direction, as is expected.
The film owes its success to Michalis Gaziadis, the camera operator, and his tasteful film photography.
Truth is that the script was very demanding.
Regarding the cast, Aliki Theodoridou is the dominant figure. Particularly in the romantic scenes wherein her performance is great (with some exceptions). The way I see it, it is the best performance ever seen in a Greek film. Once more, Emilios Veakis is very good, even when he is overacting. However, we would expect much more
from him now that his part is bigger. I didn’t like Moussouris at all. Of course, he has his moments, but these are the exceptions to the rule. D. Tsakiris’ role is brief, but good for once. Everyone is by and large acquainted with local color.

Iris Skaraveou, Protoporia, 1929 

Astero’s filming technique is significantly improved, yet the result is not the one I would personally have hoped for. The time of the year it was filmed did not make things easier for Gaziadis Brothers. Fog, the freezing cold and snow made filming much more difficult. However, camera operator, Michalis Gaziadis, managed to deliver something. In other words, and though the presented tourist attractions, in the route between Diakofto and
Kalavryta, are characterized by low-key lighting, the imagery is still beautiful and full of genuine local color; technically adequate, it managed to thrill viewers, who often applauded. In general, this is a good film, much better than previous DF productions. Still, it is mediocre when compared to others of the kind. Gaziadis Brothers cannot be easily forgiven, especially since general audience is so supportive and eager.

Z, Estia, 23/4/1929

The main advantages of Astero, those establishing it as the “first good Greek film”, are the following:
• Nirvanas, a genuine intellectual, possessing good taste and “Greek perspective”, were commissioned to write the script.
• the entire story was set on Chelmos, “one of the finest Greek settings”, with “snowy mountain tops, stiff cliffs, waterfalls and rivers, ranches and flats where shepherds rest during winter-time, the picturesque Grand Cave,” landscapes that “the American and European cinematographers would definitely envy”;
• the actors “loved and were deeply immersed in the story” (from Aliki, who has proven to be extremely
photogenic and good in acting, to the extras, who performed as natural born actors and succeeded in a task where professionals would possibly fail);
• the “explicit” scenes of previous films were missing.

Newspaper Homeland/Patris, 24.4.1929

Patris enthusiastically exclaimed: “We saw light. At last we have a decent, almost technically apt, good film… Whoever undertakes the task of writing about our country’s cinema history should forget any film before Astero… for the simple reason that Astero is not a simple film, it is a true starting point.”
Disadvantages: “its overtly artificial over-romantic aura… at times becomes impossible, or, even corny.”
Here are some triumphant reviews on Aliki’s performance: “The peak of virtuosity, the definition of a well-rounded performance, demonstrated by Ms. Aliki, a very young whilst capable artist. It would be hard to decide in which scene Ms. Aliki is larger than life, and it would be, also, hard to say if it would be preferable for her not to return to theater stage, but rather devote to the big screen. What is for certain is that having had the means
Ms. Aliki could compete with premier league international film superstars.”

Uncredited French newspaper, February 1932

“One of the main virtues of this beautiful film is precisely the nature’s joy, radiance and generosity being juxtaposed with the narrative that unfolds. Photography is remarkable and landscapes look absolutely beautiful – from mountain nooks, whose every peak seems to be part of a painting, to the unparalleled images from Grand Cave Monastery, a structure emerging as a rock among rocks and conveying a distant, wild grandeur.”

SCREENPLAY
TECHNIQUE
CAST                 Aliki Theodoridou
Emilios Veakis
Kostas Moussouris

STEP 2
LIKE & DISLIKE

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STEP 3
MY REVIEW

My review
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Film assessment
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ACTIVITY 3

THE SHOOTING

Linking Film with:
Essay Writing Grade A – Senior High School: Career Advice for Junior & Senior High School

GET TO WORK
Once you read the directors interview extract, proceed in organizing the shooting of the scene you have watched. How will the roles be distributed (refer to Manuals: Credits)? How much time will the shooting last?
Ready? Lights, camera, action! Use the production table to keep notes.

Iris Skaraveou
Kinimatografikos Astir, 14/2/1929
Yannis Soldatos, A Century of Greek Cinema,
Vol. I 1900-1967, Kochlias editions, Athens 2001

In more or less ten days, in other words, on March 7, we’ll start shooting our third film. It is a pastoral idyll, the screenplay of which wrote Pavlos Nirvanas. It is a bucolic morality tale, full of peasant romanticism. Its moral message will satisfy the viewer – as I’d like to believe. The length of film to be used will amount to 2,200 meters and might exceed a bit. We will start shooting soon, as we would like to finish everything before April 15. Imagine that we have already made arrangements for the music score that will accompany the screening. Mr. Labelette was commissioned to do it.
… So far, we have ensured collaboration with Mr. Em. Veakis. The script will enable us to make the most out of this great actor’s of ours talent.
Who will act by his side while he performs the part of the father?
… For the time being, the roles haven’t been fully distributed. The procedure will complete by March 7th, the date set for departure to Arachova and Parnassos, where we will be shooting for 11 days, from March 9 to 11. We will meet again on the day of our departure. Ms. Louvari’s participation seems quite probable.

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ACTIVITY 4

TRAVEL

The filming lasted 23 days (8-31/3) and took place mostly in Peloponnese: Chelmos, Stygian water, Grand Cave, Kalavryta rack railway, Diakofto, Zachlarou, Messorougi, Solo, Soudena, Mazi, Fteri.
Can you spot any of these locations on the map? Alternatively, browse through google map and trace the route followed by the crew. Which location would you choose for the shooting?

Imagine the difficulties the crew experienced in the middle of the woods, up in the mountains!
Rumor has it that when they approached the herd of old-Prionas – who was the oldest supporting actor on set– they risked their life. Sheperd dogs leaped at them and Prionas had a hard time trying to calm them down.

ACTIVITY 5

CREATE

Based on the extract you have watched, create your own scene.
Think of the relationship between the two genders and the way in which it is shaped in today’s social context.
You may start by preparing the storyboard (refer to: Manuals-Script). Turn your camera on – lights, camera, action!
What kind of setting would you choose, which costumes/make up/soundtrack would you prefer, what about the dilemma the two heroes face?

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Sound: ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

ACTIVITY 6

PROMOTE

Linking Film with Computer Science (Multi-Media)- High School

Computer Science (Multi-Media)- High School
Astero was the most popular of the five films released in 1929.

“A NEW GREEK FILM IN THE RANCH, IN THE THYME BUSHES, IN THE GRASSLANDS.”
Observe the poster below and then try to create your own poster, according to the guidelines found in the Appendix. Use the photo material made available for the film in FILM VAULT.

ACTIVITY 7

Linking Film with:
Essay Writing Grade A – Senior High School: Career Advice for Junior & Senior High School

Dag Film aspired to become established as a talent incubator and for this reason had announced an open call for young men and women who aimed in having a film career. A thousand people responded to the call and the appointed jury selected the most suitable. The stage names of those chosen betrayed a deep desire for international
career: Attika, Wango Menos, Maria Kirki, Aris Parnas, Mirna Violanti, Ras Staro, Ira Doris, Louis Gris, Liko Olympo, Rita Oza, Man Oli, Doly Gray.

Imagine you are a member of the film jury. What questions would you pose?

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TEACHER GUIDE

GENERAL GUIDE

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