Best Greek Films

10 films that proved Greek cinema doesn't start and end with Dogtooth.
The Top Ten
1 The Ogre of Athens (1956)

The official number one choice for the best Greek film ever is this masterpiece by the rebellious and diverse filmmaker, Nikos Koundouros. It's a dark tale of false identity. The title, translated as "Dragon," actually means "The Serial Killer and Rapist of Women."

A middle-aged clerk, living his miserable life, is mistaken for a notorious serial killer who looks exactly like him. At first, he tries to prove his innocence, but since this mistake, his life has become more interesting, so he submits to his new identity. Brutal and dark, Drakos provides an inside look into the underground Greek society of the 50s. But mostly, it's a trip into the dark and twisted Greek soul trying to find redemption through the majestic dance scene before the ending. It's a perfect modern Greek tragedy.

2 The Travelling Players

The Travelling Players, mostly known as Angelopoulos' definitive masterpiece, is the most famous Greek film outside Greece. If for one reason, it's for the unique presentation of Greek history as a united memory and not as separate facts. In order to do this, he revolutionizes the use of time and space in cinematic form, making it the first and only avant-garde Greek film that influences world cinema.

3 Evdokia (1971)

Evdokia, a girl's name that means hope, is the title of this film. It stars a woman working as a prostitute who falls in love with a soldier during the Greek dictatorship. She tries to escape from the suburban dump she lives in, but her pimp has other plans.

Director Alexis Damianos, who has a cult status similar to Terrence Malick, goes beyond naturalism and reaches heights of pure cinematic poetry in this film. The characters are somehow symbols of Greek society but also possess a deep sentimental world. They try to free themselves from a tough and conservative Greek society, full of stereotypes, and live peacefully. However, people will never let them.

So the only thing that remains for a captivated soul is to dance his pain through Zeibekiko, seeking redemption in his own spiritual world. You may captivate the soul, but not the spirit. And this is the most Greek feeling of all. This is beyond doubt the perfect Greek film.

4 Zorba the Greek (1964)
5 Stella (1955)

The first Greek film to win international awards, this uncompromising portrait of a female character liberated by cliches seems as rebellious today as back then. Melina Merkouri is the greatest Greek actress (goddess in fact).

Stella fights with all her powers against any domestic aspect of society. A free romantic rebel who isn't afraid to pay the consequences.

6 Sweet Bunch (1983)

The great artist and uncompromising filmmaker, Nikos Nikolaidis, stands out from all Greek filmmakers because of his personal stories. These are stories about his friends or some twisted dark arthouse films. He's the greatest filmmaker this country has ever known. He has a cult status in Europe and the USA, possessing every possible knowledge about cinema.

This stylistic neo-noir follows four friends in a search for… well, nothing special, just living their lives. Free of every possession and cliché, they live in the moment, doing what is more fun to them, and try to protect their little world against the real world. The fight would be as epic as it is psychedelic. Forget Oldboy and Tarantino, this is the real thing.

7 The Red Lanterns (1963)

After viewing this movie, it will be impossible to believe that what you just saw was merely a number of actors playing their roles for a film. Instead, you get the impression that those people were actually living there and those were the lives they led. I believe that this is pure art!

There's no need to invest a fortune for an impressive production. This is as long as there are highly skilled actors and directors. They do an excellent job of letting you enter the magic world of the movie and share their experience.

The underground atmosphere is depicted in an excellent, even nostalgic way. The music is captivating. Tzeni Karezi will always remain in Greek people's hearts no matter how many years will pass. If you really love the art of pure cinematography, you shouldn't miss this movie.

8 Rembetiko (1983)

The history of the Greek urban music genre Rebetiko (as important for Greek culture as blues are for American) its artists, and the parallels with Greek history. Master cinematography with every frame has something to contribute to the characters. Music and narration mixed perfectly with the vision of Egypt-born filmmaker Costas Ferris, who gives an oriental flair to the story.

9 I megali stigmi tou '21: Papaflessas (1971)

I have seen this movie at least 30 times. It's fantastic!

This film offers a marvelous portrait of one of the greatest heroes of the Greek Revolution in 1821, Papaflessas. He was portrayed perfectly by one of the greatest Greek actors, Dimitris Papamichael. Directed by Erricos Andreou, it includes one of the best casts, if not the best one, in a Greek movie, with actors like Dandoulaki, Alexandrakis, Stratigos, Antonopoulos, Fernando Sancho, Politis (the famous Giagkos Drakos from "I Lampsi"), Dianellos, and Dimitris Ioakeimidis as the best Kolokotronis in film history.

In my opinion, this film is the best Greek movie of all time. The film won the best reviews in the 1971 Thessaloniki Film Festival and won the Best Director, best production, and was given honors to a set designer and costume designer, Dionysis Fotopoulos.

The film cost 12,000,000 drachmas and is considered one of the biggest blockbusters of Greek cinema, approaching their American counterparts. It reminds you a little bit of films like Braveheart, Lawrence of Arabia, and El Cid.

10 Dogtooth (2009)

This is a great film with impressive performances. However, it's not for everyone. It can make some people uncomfortable, but if you can get past all the taboos, it's very enjoyable. That's because the movie focuses on these taboos.

A couple isolates their "children" from the outside society. They have two daughters and a son, their ages range from the teens to the 20s. They teach them different meanings for words like "zombie" and "telephone." The children are unaware of the existence of a telephone.

The only person allowed in is a security guard from the father's job at a factory named Christina. She is only allowed to come in and have sex with the son. However, she decides to have sexual experimentations with one of the daughters as well. The daughter is unaware of what sex really is. This is in exchange for gifts.

I won't continue describing the movie, but it's a great film. It's very twisted. You need to have an open mind. It's very, very strange.

The Contenders
11 Parangelia! (1980)

Based on a true story of passion and murder, this is the gutsiest Greek film you'll ever come across. It's a brutal portrait of low-class people living on the edge. Death seems to be in every corner, but no one cares about it. Life is so harsh that it doesn't seem to be the best thing in this world.

The protagonist is one of the loners who risks everything because they have nothing to lose. This elegy for the romantic heroes is accompanied by the poems of the director's wife (an anarchist poet who committed suicide), who played an important part in the narration of this film.

12 The Counterfeit Coin (1954)

An old classic film mixes four different stories that are connected by a common object, a pound. This object shapes their destinies and stories.

Through each story, director Tzavellas mixes different genres, from romance to comedy and from social drama to heist film. In the middle is this mysterious object. A truly magnificent piece of art, this is the first true Greek masterpiece.

13 Eternity and a Day (1998)
14 Balamos (1982)

Tornes is the most unusual Greek filmmaker. He started in Italy with bit roles, mostly in Taviani Bros films (Allonsanfan). Balamos is his masterpiece. It's like a metamorphosis that mostly takes place inside you. Even the most profound shot takes on a deeply existential essence due to his mastery behind the camera. A true rebel. Gus Van Sant and Bela Tarr followed years later.

A sweet game with the possibilities of filmmaking starts with a mystery that we try to solve with the filmmaker. There is no story, just this adventure. It never ends, like the cinematic adventure. A love letter to cinema by cult director Nikos Panagiotopoulos.

15 Reconstitution (1970)

The most famous Greek auteur, Theo Angelopoulos, starts his career and modern Greek cinema starts with him. Theo pushes the limits between fiction and documentary while there are some existential themes in this masterly directed tale of abandoned suburbia.

16 Blood on the Land (1965)

In Thessaly, 1907, a man rouses the poor farmers to claim the land on which they work in favor of landlords. Odysseus, the son of such a landowner, refuses to clash with the farmers. Odysseus finds himself in conflict with his brother, Rigas. However, it is not the only reason that brings him face to face with Rigas. Both brothers are in love with Irene.

This film provides an extraordinary glimpse of Greece in the 1900s. It's a Greek gem that includes action, adventure, romance, drama, and amazing performances by a superb cast with actors like Kourkoulos, Voglis, Xronopoulou, Katrakis, Georgitsis, Pergialis, and Antonopoulos. Directed by one of the best Greek directors, Vasilis Georgiadis, some people refer to it as a Greek western because it has the style of the old American westerns.

The story deals with love, revolution, old ideas versus newer ones, conflict, and finally, a new world being created from the ashes of the old one.

Vassilis Georgiadis was fortunate enough to have a great script in his hand and a terrific cast to match it. I mostly liked the four protagonists: Nickos Kourkoulos as the rebellious, justice-adoring son who's not afraid to stand up against his family, Yiannis Voglis as his violent, tough brother, the great Manos Katrakis as their wise but stubborn father, and Mary Chronopoulou as Irene, a true feminist of the beginning of the 20th century. Also, notice Notis Peryialis, the actor who plays the part of the only character of the story who really existed: Marinos Antypas. The film was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Movie. It's a pity it didn't win it.

17 Visibility Zero (1970)
18 Iphigenia (1977)

Iphigenia by Cacoyannis is one of the greatest masterpieces that Greek cinema has produced. It was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1977, but lost by a difference of one vote.

Indeed, such films should make us proud to be Greeks because this is the priceless heritage of our ancient ancestors. The tragedy of Euripides is revived through the film and manages to excite both Greek and foreign critics.

The talented Irene Papas manages to amaze us with her shocking interpretation of Clytemnestra, while the innocent 13-year-old Tatiana Papamoschou captivates anyone with her grace. Let's not forget to mention the other protagonists: Kostas Kazakos, Kostas Karras, and Panos Michalopoulos. They are all great.

19 Lola (1964)
20 The Man with the Carnation (1980)
21 O Astrapogiannos (1970)

Astrapoyannos is a hero from an old time, a time when real heroes existed. He is a man of honor who has fought for his country's freedom. Now, he fights to clear out his fellow countrymen ("kotzambasides", "prouchontes") who have become rich and taken the place of the former conquerors. They have bought the land. These men torture the poor ("kolligous") even harder. However, Astrapoyannos, like Robin Hood of his time, helps everyone who needs him. And so, the story begins…

Astrapoyannos is played by the well-known Greek actor, Nikos Kourkoulos, who passed away on January 30, 2007. A real actor, beloved as Astrapoyannos by everyone in Greece, he has performed in many films and theater plays since around 1960. In this film, as in many others in the past, Nikos showcases all of his great acting talent. May he forever stay in our memory.

To conclude, in this film, Nikos Kourkoulos is surrounded by many good actors, and that's why I feel that this movie is excellent.

22 Electra (1962)
23 The Downfall (1961)
24 The Drunkard (1950)
25 A Girl in Black (1956)
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