Thursday, December 9, 2021

From Sheep to Bulldozers

Attenberg (2010) - Tsangari Screen Shot 2021-12-09 at 10.16.54 AM Screen Shot 2021-12-09 at 10.18.43 AM Screen Shot 2021-12-09 at 10.23.19 AM Screen Shot 2021-12-09 at 10.27.17 AM "From Sheep to Bulldozers," Spyros (Vangelis Mourikis), a terminally ill architect dad tells his daughter Marina (Ariane Labed) while looking outside the window overlooking the small seaside industrial Greek town where they live, as he laments about 20th century. He is worried that he will be gone with nothing to show for Marina's generation. Him being atheist, he wants to be cremated because he doesn't want to be food for worms. But Greece being strictly a Christian country, his body will be flown to Hamburg to be cremated then sent back over to Marina, when the time comes. Marina on the other hand, needs to figure out other things in life too, other than dealing with her father's illness. First, even though she is a young woman, she hasn't discovered being intimate with someone. Only person in town who can teach her how is her sexually active best friend Bella (Evangelia Randau), who works as a barmaid at a hotel.

Attenberg, along with Yorgos Lanthimos' Dogtooth, became the faces of the new Greek cinema in the late 2000s. And there are a lot of similarities between the two - generational divide, patriarchy, Lanthimos (who plays Marina's first lover), being metaphors for a country thrown into a new, globalized world in which she is not quite ready or comfortable. But Tsangari has a gentler touch and is much less cynical. Attenberg features one of the sweetest depiction of father-daughter relationship than any other films I can think of.

Sir David Attenborough, whose nature documentary program is what Marina grew up on, is her only constant companion. It's Attenborough's communing with the nature and animals, his compassion that is a contrast to Marina's banal surroundings - a mining factory with no prospects for young people.

Communication in Attenberg is not really done through dialog. With Marina and Bella, it's done through series of choreographed dance/movements/freakouts. With Spyro and Marina, it's constant word play where they top each others last words with a similar sounding word, when they are not frankly talking about the possibility of incest or body decomposition. Tender but still weird, it's a great entry point to the Greek New Wave.