1979
96’ (25 fps) / 1.66:1

MILO MILO

MILO MILO / ΙΔΟΥ Η ΜΗΛΟΣ

DIRECTED BY:
Nikos Perakis
SCRIPT:
Nikos Perakis
MILO MILO poster

The film "Milo Milo" was my second attempt to return to Greece. When I told my friend Joe Hembus that I was thinking of shooting a movie on the island of Milos he tried to dissuade me. Statistically, he said, films shot on islands are artistic and commercial failures. He even named some of these flops, but I countered with "Zorba" and "The Guns of Navarone". In the end statistics won the argument.

I started writing the script with Vassilis Alexakis as a satire, before Mathias Seelig joined the team, a hot name then in German dramaturgy. When the scenario grew too long, we asked Veith von Fürstenberg to edit it down, and finally I went to Milos with Christopher Doherty to rewrite the final script in English.

A co-production put together with tax refunds, bonuses, money awards, and television, government and foreign participation requires delicate balances. Our first problem was that the Salt Pit Directorate of the Ministry of Industry, to which the cinema belonged in 1979, could not find the circular of a recent law with favorable terms for foreign co-productions, and our would-be co-producer retired.

The second setback was the negative response of Thanasis Veggos – a very popular actor – whom we had proposed for the role of Thanasis, and indeed had written the part to fit him like a glove. My experienced Greek associates had warned me that Veggos would never agree to play a cuckold. The third blow came from the producing country. For the role of the German archaeologist Barbara, I had found in Rome a young completely unknown model with a Teutonic name and look. I had seen her on some of Joe's slides when he was writing promotional copy for the new King Kong re-make. Before I could call her agent, my co-producers asked me to cast a well-known, beautiful, German, model and actress since Barbara was the only national presence in the movie. So we ended up with beautiful and famous Veruschka von Lehndorff, who had already played in four films. The fact that her father had been executed for his participation in the failed bomb attempt on Hitler made her particularly attractive.

The coffeehouse owner Thanasis was played by Mario Adorf, who finally agreed to do it to repay me for coaching him for the role of the Greek hotelier in Billy Wilder's 'Fedora'. Wilder had appreciated the laminated plastic ID card and the ink stain on the pocket of the translucent short-sleeved shirt that Mario wore for the role.

Andréa, Andreas and Julien came from Paris to reinforce the multinational troupe. More about this in SCRIBBLES and ASIDES.

PLOT

Barbara, pretty daughter of the late archaeology professor Erich von Schliefeld, arrives on the island of Milos determined to prove her father's claim that the statue of the Venus de Milo exhibited in the Louvre is a copy, and the original is still on the island. In order to circumvent the law against archaeological excavations, she pretends to be a geologist, provoking the suspicion of U.S. multinational corporation ALUMINE, which is about to sign a contract to mine bauxite on the island, although the company’s mineralogist informs his hard-boiled boss that the deposit he has examined is extremely rich in uranium-235. Things get more complicated when the French adventurer, forger and sacked CIA agent Louis de France, who has been spying on the archaeologist, discovers the more profitable activities of the Americans. The chaos is perfected with the involvement of the coffeehouse owner and island’s amateur police informer Thanasis, his attractive wife Aphrodite, and his weird stepson Nicolo, who is hiding his forefathers' pirate treasure.

CAST+CREW

One of the biggest problems with the cast, which also became a headache for the production department, was the simultaneous presence of so many actors on Milos and then moving them and the 35-member crew to Berlin, where we were to shoot the Louvre, the ALUMINE headquarters, and the sea-cave, without a big loss of time.
I had seen Andreas Katsoulas twice at Peter Brook’s theatre "Bouffes du Nord" and he seemed to me ideal for Nikolos. I had met Andréa Ferréol the previous year on "THE TIN DRUM" and had offered her the role of Aphroditi. Julien Guiomar I knew from several French and Italian films as the villain, mafioso, or corrupt French politician – and of course as the Brigadier of Gendarmerie in Costa Gavras's "Z" - and he was ideal for the vicious Louis. I had seen Antonio Vargas in "CARWASH" and recently in Louis Malle's "PRETY BABY" and he was perfect too. Joe Higgins was cast by my co-writer Chris Doherty in Los Angeles and brought to us at the very last minute – by then he must have played the sheriff in at least 50 TV series and westerns. The priest, Kostas Papanastasiou, was flown in from Berlin because we couldn’t find a bearded actor in Athens and I hate glued-on beards. Also from Berlin we brought Larrie and Danny, the two huge bodyguards - military policemen at Allied Forces Headquarters. An old lady watching us shoot a scene with both of them whispered to me: "Leave them here to breed a race for the fields". On my own I got Thymios Karakatsanis for the gendarme sergeant and Antonis Antoniou for the leftist teacher, but Stavros Xenidis had to be persuaded by my friend Panousopoulos to play the Greek minister. Panousopoulos himself played the "Hellenic Newsreel" cameraman. Finally, in the role of the deputy minister, we had Peter Lilienthal, one of the founders of FILMVERLAG DER AUTOREN- co-producer with it’s subsidiary ProJect - who came to Milos for support.
The difficulty of transporting the crew was met with a few extra flights between Milos and the Athens Hellenikon airport.
The problem I had underestimated was that I had to co-ordinate the very different acting techniques of more than ten actors without any rehearsal before shooting.
More on this in SCENES, where the problem is apparent.

CAST

Thanasis
Mario Adorf
Aphroditi
Andréa Ferréol
Barbara
Verushka von Lehndorff
Louis de France
Andree Guiomar
Nikolos
Andreas Katsoulas
Chief, Alumine’s commander
Joe Higgins
Doc, Alumine’s Geologist
Antonio Fargas
sergeant of the gendarmerie.
Thymios Karakatsanis
priest
Kostas Papanastasiou
public school teacher
Antonis Antoniou
Omiros
Yiorgos Baladimas
Louvre director
Rene Geney
archaeology professor
Henning Schlüter
museum guard
Rudolph Unger
harbour policeman
Nikos Lygouris
fisherman
Nikos Tsahiridis
shepherd
Martin Höner
state secretary
Peter Lilienthal
news cameraman
Yiorgos Panousopoulos
American tourists
Christopher Doherty, Elisabeth Szablinski
Chief’s bodyguards
Larrie Joe Stortz, Daniel H.Contine
girl in Louvre
Amy Rodriges
the dog
Baltimore
the goat
Panos

CREW

writer+director
Nikos Perakis
co-writers
Mathias Seelig, Vasilis Alexakis, Christopher Doherty, Veit von Fürstenberg
director of photography
Dietrich Lohman
ZDF producer
Christoph Holch
producer
Joachim von Vietinghoff
editor
Siegrun Jäger
music
Nikos Mamangakis
production manager
Jürgen Bieske, Yiorgos Iakovidis
set designers
Roland Mabille, Mikes Karapiperis
costume designer
Sebastian Bleische
makeup
Evelin Döhring
wardrobe
Petra Polosek
sound engineers
Christian Moldt, Helmut Roettgen
sound mixer
Hans-Dieter Schwarz
assistant directors
Martin Höner, Lakis Antonakos
camera assistants
Francesco Bataler, Karsten Wichniarz, Nikos Paizanos
still photographer
Heike Hubert
assistant editor
Eveline Schmidt
script
Elena Dimitrakopoulou
production trainee
Nikos Lygouris
construction manager
Willi Wolter
plaster
Hosrst Barthelt
special effects
Yiannis Samiotis
production assistant
Christine Carben Stotz
stage managers
Jurgen Reinheimer, Manuel Kibern
props buyers
Michalis Floriotis, Eckard Czylwik
financial management
Renée Gundelach
Aphroditi’s jewelry
ZOLOTAS


"The woman he loves"

music
Nikos Mamangakis
lyrics
Timothy Touchton+Nikos Perakis
vocals
Su Kramer


"I’m the one who’s gotta cry"

music,lyrics, vocals
Timothy Touchton


"Molivenia Synefa"

music
Nikos Mamangakis
lyrics
Yiannis Ritsos
vocals
Nikos Dimitratos

 

film lab
Geyer Berlin
studios+services
CCC Filmateliers BERLIN
production
von Vietinghoff Filmproduktion GmmH
co-producers
Projekt Film GmbH im Filmverlag der Autoren
von Vietinghoff+Perakis Filmproduktion München
Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen Art Editions Athens
distribution, Germany
Filmverlag der Autoren
distribution, Greece
Victor G.Michailidis SA

 

© 1979 v.VIETINGHOFF/N.PERAKIS/ZDF

Duration 96’ (25 fps)
EASTMAN Color 35 mm
Frame aspect 1.66:1

POSTERS+LOBBY CARDS

The argument about the genre of the movie climaxed when it was time for the poster and stopped when we saw it printed. I have never thought that the movie was as bad as the poster, designed by a professor, no less, of graphic design with the distributor's ad department, and therefore I avoided filing it for the benefit of posterity. But while looking for material for the site in the movie folders I found the cover of a vinyl disk that had been released along with the film and gives an idea of the drama that I experienced. For distribution in Greece things were done in the traditional way: arpa colla* («Quick and Dirty») by the distributor's ad designer who made a collage of the pictures he had and used the classic hand-painted letter styles seen in all Greek film ads of this era. I'm proud of this poster.

*"Arpa colla" means "grab and glue" and is the usual adjective or adverb for anything done fast and carelessly. It would become the title of my next, and first Greek-speaking, movie.

STILLS+FRAMES

SCENES

When I started writing with Vasilis Alexakis we imagined a parody of the international co-productions that were then shot in Greece, but combining our stereotypes with the foreign ones. On the one hand: sun, sea and sand, antiquities, picturesque Greeks, ardent Greek lovers, octopus and Greek salad, baksheesh, the corrupt state, and populist politicians – even then. And on the other hand: French windbags, love-bereft German and plethoric Italian women, American multinationals, progressive leftists, reactionary priests, parastate scum, etc. And all this with a touch of German passion for antiquities, French pomposity, American provincialism and Greek cunning. I am afraid that the only ones who recognized all the ingredients were two or three critics on large German newspapers since ZDF always airs the movie during the last week of Carnival.

I realized a little late that it is thankless, and perhaps impossible, to parody a successful recipe.

WORK PHOTOS

When I started looking at my production records, I was hoping to find the pictures from my five-day trek round the island on foot, along the shore and up and down the volcanic slopes. Then I remembered that when we moved the office in Berlin we gave a few boxes of materials to the Film Museum in Düsseldorf. I found only the continuity and costume-fitting Polaroids that were still in my script folder or at the press office of Victor G. Michailidis's distribution company in Athens. For this reason, as almost always, they are all pictures of the multifarious director and his collaborators in various poses.

Among the other things I found in my folder were Barbara's research photographs, which spill onto the floor in the Louvre, and appear as background for the head titles; I have put them under SHOOTING BOARDS+SCRIBBLES.

VIDEO CLIPS+MUSIC THEMES

SHOOTING BOARDS+SCRIBBLES

ASIDES