IAKOVOS KAMBANELLIS & MELINA HIS MUSE
Make use of the text here below before screening the film extract. This will familiarize students with Melina’s personality. The text may, also, be used in Activity 2 (Activities Guide) by Group A.
Melina Merkouri, delighted with the way Kambanellis had rendered Medea, asked him to write her part for the play she indented to stage in Rex the coming winter […]
In the Yacht Club’s Ball, which took place in July the 25th and was attended by royalty, Melina, spontaneously got up and moving towards the stage, in an impressive long-dress, she stood by the guitarist and leaving the one shoulder-off sang passionately a traditional, rebetiko song.
“She had missed Athens a lot, those nights, the outburst, the release of oneself through celebration, yearning, joy…”, says Kambanellis, while thinking of that particular night when the idea of the play, he was about to write for Melina in the following eight weeks, came to him. “She was a different Melina that night, or, to put it correctly,
she was too much of herself, of Melina….. There was no need to search elsewhere for the play. It was just in front of me.”
“The following days [..] Dimitris Horn and Elli Lambeti invited Niki and myself to their home. They asked me to bring the play. Cacoyannis was there [..] at the time we thought that Cacoyannis lost interest and felt sleepy. All of a sudden Takis (Horn) gets in touch to inform me that Cacoyannis wants to meet and propose that we film Stella [..] However, in our next meetings, he said that he couldn’t see Melina in the part, that they were incompatible,
her being an actress of the French School and him being favoring the English School….”
The producers’ objection reached Melina ears ….
Nobody can imagine the conversations that ensued: Melina: They cannot do that to me, it is treason!
Kambanellis: Surely, they cannot. Stella is you. The play is based on you, it was written for you…
Rena: Anti-cinematic, this is unheard of! Do not give it to them, Iakovos…If Melina doesn’t take the part…5
Kambanellis: Melina will take the part. Anyway, I am, mainly, interested in the play. It is written as a theatrical play.
Melina: Theater… We are, now, talking about cinema. I would like to play Stella in cinema. I want it so much. I am so into it, do you get me?
Rena: If they do not choose you, they will be the ones missing out. You are photogenic and talented.
You have a great body, stunning legs and eyes….
Melina: …And a great mouth!…
A little longer and she would have burst into tears. Nevertheless, a few days later she was informed of the good news: She was to play Stella. In cinema. Filming was about to start.
Melina: And what about my mouth?
Cacoyannis: Forget about your mouth. Don’t think of it…… Your eyes. Your eyes are wonderful…. Your mouth, this wide mouth, together with your lustful eyes, will become the hallmarks of your film persona.
Melina: This means I can laugh?
Melina – A godess with the devil inside
Terzo Books, Athens 1996