I am in my Homeland!
No… I am not in Carrie & Brody world 🙂 I am just back in Turkey, the country that I was born and grew up in, for a few weeks to visit with family. To be precise, I am in Izmir, my hometown, a beautiful city on Turkey’s West Coast that has a rich Greek heritage that reflects itself in all ways of life, which I LOVE. And, believe it or not, my hometown rings a bell about Damian Lewis that I want to talk about today! Damian has a movie in which we first meet him in Izmir (Smyrna in Greek).
Brides (Nyfes), anyone?
Since I am in Izmir, it’s very proper to have a Throwback Thursday to a decade earlier… to visit this beautifully shot and told love story Brides — a relatively lesser known movie in which Damian Lewis plays an American… again 🙂
Brides (Nyfes) is a 2004 movie directed by celebrated Greek Director Pantelis Voulgaris and starring Damian Lewis and Victoria Haralabidou in the lead roles. The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2004, and won the Best Film Award at the Greek State Film Awards, a part of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival in 2004. If you haven’t seen it yet, the movie is available for purchase on Amazon.
Damian Lewis plays Norman Harris, an American photographer, in the movie. We first meet him in Smyrna with a camera in hand shouting at a group of kids in Turkish: “Cocuklar! (Hey, Kids!)” He speaks with the children lovingly and ties a piece of cloth to a wish tree with them! Norman is in Smyrna for work, he is taking war photos from the Greco – Turkish war in 1922. However, they find his photos “too artsy to publish” and so Norman sells his camera to a colleague and jumps on a ship that will take him back home, and to a troubled marriage. The ship is full of “mail-order brides” going to America to their arranged marriages — a little known, true event. Norman is traveling first-class whereas the brides are all in third-class.
One of these young brides is Niki (Haralabidou), a seamstress, from Samothrace, Greece. She is on her way to America to fulfill a marriage contract and save her family honor. Norman feels attracted to this young woman — her beauty, her pride and her strength. The two cannot help falling for each other while they are very much aware of the invisible boundaries that ultimately separate them.
Niki: [in Greek] You have such beautiful eyes.
Norman: What did you say?
Niki: It smells like it’s going to rain.
Just because the movie has a first class and a third class voyager falling for each other, you may envision this love story a Titanic of sorts… Don’t! When you see Brides, one of the first things you notice is the contrast Hollywood and European Cinema have in story telling… Brides is an art-house movie. It’s sad but not at your face sad. It’s subtle. It’s quiet. It’s poetic. And, I don’t want to spoil it here but would love to note that the movie has one of the most poetic love scenes I have ever seen in any movie — and I’ve seen A LOT! Let me just say you will know it when you see it!
We will come back to Brides, a beautiful, sad and subtle love story that strikes more than a few chords with me, and back to Damian’s character Norman Harris, one of my secret crushes along with Nicholas McGrade in Colditz — but today’s throwback is about the film’s very special 10th BIRTHDAY!
The Museum of the Moving Image organized a special screening in collaboration with the Onassis Center and NYC Greek Film Festival last fall to celebrate the 10th Birthday of the movie as well as to honor the director Voulgaris, one of the most celebrated contemporary Greek film directors.
From Museum of the Moving Image website: “Pantelis Voulgaris is one of the most acclaimed contemporary Greek film directors, and his outstanding film Brides was produced by Martin Scorsese. Brides takes place in 1922, on a ship that sails from Smyrna, Greece, with mail-order brides bound for New York. The complex intersection of new and old world ways of life is embodied in a shipboard romance between an American photographer and a Greek seamstress.”
Back to the screening… Well, it was SOLD OUT and there was a post-screening conversation with Voulgaris and the screenwriter Ioanna Karystiani, hosted by Variety chief film critic Scott Foundas.
The tweet by the Onassis Center from the event is beautiful.
Talent is great.
Professional integrity is amazing.
A director praising an actor’s talent and professional integrity on the 10th anniversary of the movie is PRICELESS.
Happy Birthday, BRIDES!