Monday, August 30, 2021

The First Movie About Saint Nektarios from 1969

On August 26th, Yelena Popovic's popular film The Man of God, which refers to Saint Nektarios, opened in cinemas in Greece. This film is primarily in English.

This brings to mind another film about the Saint from 1969, filmed in Greek, titled Saint Nektarios - The Protector of the Poor, produced by James Paris. A social drama directed by the great Grigoris Grigoriou and written by Kiki Segditsa and Antonis David, the script moves between two time periods, the modern era with flashbacks to the life of Saint Nektarios.

In the main role is Christos Politis as Saint Nektarios. Christos Politis, from Heraklion in Crete, started his career with his real name, Christos Piatoulakis, with which he appears in his first films (The Avenue of Hate, Remember My Love). Saint Nektarios is essentially his first big role in cinema and 1969 was his year. After Remember My Love and Saint Nektarios, he will star in No and in The Girl of 17, and will also win the Second Male Role Award at the Thessaloniki Film Festival for his performance.

The film in its first screening cut 93,443 tickets and came 62nd out of 99 films in the 1969-1970 season.

The film was shot eight years after the official canonization of Saint Nektarios by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, under Patriarch Athenagoras. The plot of the film is as follows and justifies, we would say, Saint Nektarios as a "wonderworker", a name that accompanies Saint Nektarios until today.

A dancer, Vera, is married to a nuclear scientist, Tasos. She suffers from multiple sclerosis and is in a very difficult situation. In a small church in Aegina, according to rumors, supernatural things happen. True miracles. The president of the community is Tasos's father, so the latter has the opportunity to experience many similar incidents up close. Bedridden, Vera reads the biography of Saint Nektarios, patron saint of the island, whose life we are watching at the same time. This contributes to the strengthening of the religious faith of both the heroine and her husband. A newer diagnosis changes the initial one, and Vera is completely cured with surgery.

It is interesting that in the film, faith is intertwined with science, since the heroine who needs healing is the wife of a nuclear scientist in Democritus. Her relationship with the Saint begins with the reading of his life.

Despite the inevitable melodramatics of the story, the film in the hands of the experienced director Grigoris Grigoriou acquires humanity and is characterized by subtle psychological nuances. The piece that concerns the life of the Saint is perfectly filmed and is in itself a documentary about the Saint.

Christos Politis, under the guidance of Grigoris Grigoriou, responds with talent to the incarnation of the Saint, from his young age to his old age. In fact, the liturgical part of the film, which concerns the Services of the Church, in which he impersonates the Saint, also serves convincingly.

Also, the film was recorded at the Monastery of Saint Nektarios in Aegina, with thousands of believers and Andreas Barkoulis and Vera Kruska among them. The film now belongs to the company Karagiannis-Karatzopoulos and has been shown on Greek television for twenty years.

With the new film, by Yelena Popovic, Saint Nektarios breaks a cinematic record, as he is the only Saint of the Orthodox Church for whom two films have been made in fifty years. 
Below is a shorter excerpt of the film that features the life of Saint Nektarios: