TABOO - TRANSGRESSION - TRANSCENDENCE
in Art & Science
26-28 November 2020, University of Applied Arts Vienna/Online
Dimitris Kollatos is a Greek filmmaker and stage director who, from the 1960s to the 1980s, built a controversial artistic identity based on bold subject matter and recurrent confrontation with censorship. This paper focuses on two of his early films that notoriously caused discomfort to the audience and became targets of government censorship: the short film Olive Trees (1964), which provides a cruel depiction of the Greek countryside, unearthing the financial dependence and sexual abuse of women by the patriarchal Greek family, and the feature film The Death of Alexander (1966), which takes place at a hospital and deals with the last days of a young man dying of leukemia. Olive Trees was banned for almost 18 years while The Death of Alexander was severely cut. The paper examines the reasons behind these state censorial interventions paying attention to “taboo” images and words that refer to sex, the body, and bodily functions and fluids that were perceived as obscene and offensive material. Moreover, in relation to The Death of Alexander it analyzes how the film narrative blurs the boundaries between the hospital and matrimonial bed, places a detailed emphasis on medical practices (such as injections), while connecting death with sexual performance and scatological material which were unimaginable in the context of the Greek cinema of the time. The paper discusses how Kollatos’s work attempted to stretch the limits of the representable and the speakable in relation to sexual desire, biological functions and bodily praxes in the Greek art film of the 1960s.
Acknowledgement: This research is implemented through and financed by ELIDEK post doctoral programme entitled “CIVIL – Censorship in Visual Arts and Film: The Greek experience from the post-war years to the present”.