The Flea

Spirou Dimitris

Greece, 1990



Drama, history


Freedom fighter movements in 1848-49, partisans, betrayal, the conflict between the individual and the government.


The Teacher Guide consists of useful notes, bibliographical information and approaches to film, and can function in support of the activities designed for the film proposed. The references, film reviews, and clarifications included will will broaden teaching approaches and methodologies across the curriculum  and help the students reconstruct the historical and social context of the each production and understand in depth the creators’ motives and intentions.


  1. Before moving on to the activities proposed, please refer to the Manuals section. You will find the definitions cited particularly useful in implementing the activities.
  2. Activity No. 1 could be linked to Literature and Composition classes. The first set of questions will help students identify the common characteristics between literature and film. These questions contribute to the understanding of narrative plot devices, eg. the process of turning literary heroes into film characters, the way in which expressive means of language (metaphors, similes, etc.) are rendered through camera movement, the specificity of space and time lapses when filtered through editing, and so on.
  3. Activity No. 2 may be combined with Essay Writing (chapter: Presentation/Criticism/Summary). Reading and analyzing film reviews may help students improve their summary writing.
  4. In the context of Activity No. 3, the students are called to work collaboratively and in teams, so as to get acquainted with different aspects of cultural heritage and discover its meaning.
  5. Activity No. 4 can be employed in the teaching of every school course. It provides fertile ground for discussion as per the decisions a director needs to take (space, time of shooting, etc.) depending on his/her goals and intentions (check Manuals: setting). The goal is to trigger the students’ creativity and imagination!
  6. Activities are designed so as to adapt to the age standards of your team and serve your needs according to the time you have available.




The Context

What happens in cinema theaters in the 1990s?

After facing the box office crisis of the 80s, cinema “decides” to bring the people back to the theatres. Multiplex cinemas lead Greek cinema to adopt a fast paced aesthetics, full of elements of the comedic genre, medium shots and close-ups, dialogues with of advertising-like catchphrases, or light-hearted themes that are presented with a pinch of salt. The sold tickets skyrocketed to the level of six-digit numbers: a phenomenon that repeated the glory of the golden age of Greek cinema, that fell into decay in the early 1970s.

New technologies and digital cinema give us the opportunity to boost the production, explore new possibilities, and open a creative dialogue with television. These activities were reinforced by the European co-productions and the presence of the support funds Eurimages and Eurofound, which opened up new perspectives for European Cinema. Digital shooting and image processing drastically reduce the production costs, they allow more young people to acquire a hands-on experience on an art field that was previously “forbidden” due to its high cost, while at the same time they acquaint many aspiring directors with the expressive means of the seventh art, without the restrictions of a demanding production system. In this undeniably unprecedent situation that is still under construction and full of challenges and potentials, emerges tomorrow’s cinema.

The Thessaloniki Cinema Museum in 8 Sources (official catalogue)

The Characters

The following extract is complementary to activity No. 1 (2. Characters)

Spyros focuses exclusively on his little hero, letting him stand out against the backdrop of an ethographic representation of his environment. The shootings took place in natural surroundings and this is primarily the reason the film is distinguished by a sense of authenticity. However, Spyrou is not limited to some impressive portrait of a prodigy child and the boy’s accomplishment. He gradually expounds the “deviating” forces, the exploitation of this unique case by both fellow peasants and the “sympathetic” journalist from Athens. The ultimate benefit of this situation is the growing consciousness of our little hero.

Yannis Bakoyannopoulos,

  1. The Crabs

The following excerpt is complementary to Activity No. 1 (4. Historical and Social Context)

In the filmic depiction of childhood in the film The Flea by Dimitri Spyrou, Elias fails to play like the other children. When he does so, if this is considered a game in the first place, he’s all alone: he brings crabs in the classroom, in an effort to break – on his own initiative – the stiff ambience of the school. He strives to blur the boundaries between the two worlds, claiming (in vain) the right to a different childhood behavior within the school’s non-tolerant environment.

Moumoulidou, Childhood Goes to School. Pedagogical practices and escapes. In V.Theodorou, M. Moumoulidou and A. Economidou, Catch Me If You Can: Childhood and Its Representations in Contemporary Greek Cinema. Athens: Aegokeros 2006.


  1. The Dream

The following extract is complementary to activity No. 1 (2. Characters)

The Canary Yellow Bicycle and The Flea are two films that suggest that children find, each in their own way and according to individual personality traits, different means and methods of reacting to oppression, in the form of fleeing – be it real or dreamlike. Lefteris departs on the first morning train, consciously or unconsciously seeking for a refuge in an adult activity (which is fishing), while Elias is daydreaming before taking another train himself in order to fulfill his dream. In his own words: “I had broken the borders of this small village, I had grown wings”; at the same time, his own newspaper was no longer a “newspaper” for him: “It’s a dream, it’s the travelling I want to do” – this statement is indicative of his high level of awareness of his actions.

Moumoulidou, Childhood Goes to School. Pedagogical practices and escapes. In V.Theodorou, M. Moumoulidou and A. Economidou, Catch Me If You Can: Childhood and Its Representations in Contemporary Greek Cinema. Athens: Aegokeros 2006




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