Monday, September 15, 2014

Goddesses in the Dust: Melina Mercouri and Never on Sunday

An archaeologist unearths the divine feminine, one archetype at a time...

On a corner of the Athenian pedestrian mall Ermou Street, I spied this graffito of the iconic Greek movie legend Melina Mercouri, pumping a tattooed arm beneath (and above) the name of her film: Never on Sunday. Melina Mercouri, born in Athens in 1925 to a prominent political family, was a goddess of cinema. 

Most famous for her role in  Never on Sunday, directed by and costarring her husband Jules Dassin, Mercouri played a free-spirited prostitute named Ilya who falls in love with a classical scholar named Homer in the seaside port of Piraeus. 

Mercouri received an Oscar nomination for this role and went on to star in numerous films, but her deep interest in politics led her become one of the founding members of Greece's socialist party. When the party, called PASOK, won the election in the early 1980s, Mercouri was appointed to the cabinet at Minister of Culture. Under her leadership, she lobbied for the return of the Acropolis marbles (also known as the Elgin marbles) which were taken from the Parthenon in the early 19th century and are now in the British Museum. Mercouri held an international competition to design a new museum which would house the marbles once returned. 

Mercouri died in 1994, long before the new Acropolis Museum was opened in 2009. Greece still awaits the return of the Parthenon marbles to their rightful place, for which Mercouri fought so hard, yet visitors can enjoy Mercouri's legacy in the beautiful museum she helped to envision. They can also feel her spirit mingling with that of Athena's in this iconic shot of her atop the Acropolis itself, which is visible all over the city

including the gorgeous subway system

in which people pass by her image every day.

14 comments:

  1. modern day goddess. You keep giving us amazing images from a far away place

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    1. Modern day goddess indeed. Thanks Tom xo

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  2. I like those last three shots. As for the third one, guao! What a figure. Wish I could look like that again. Inspiring. ;)

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    1. She was quite the alluring figure no?

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  3. i remember her energy. so cool and so fine.

    love to you, amanda, i hope all is well xo

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    1. She was bigger than life and that is the legacy she leaves behind.

      Thanks KJ xoxo

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  4. I know about her but I must admit I have never seen any movie with her, but to be honest, I rearly watch any movies:)

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    1. Maybe before your next Greece trip you can watch Never on Sunday? If not that, I've got a whole load of movies filmed in Greece I can recommend :))

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  5. I vaguely remember her and I may have seen the movie. We saw the marbles this summer at the British Museum. Maybe one day they will make it back home.

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    1. I hope for that too, Loree. If the British Museum ever decides to return them, they have a beautiful home waiting back in Athens.

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  6. Excellent. I will have to track down "Never on Sunday" and view it on a rainy afternoon. This is exactly the type of "off the beaten path" information that I like to read about. A very old and very true friend was at a conference at the British Museum earlier this week. He sent me a picture of a part of the Elgin Marbles because he knows I'm interested in their fate. Thanks for the post.

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    1. You're welcome Thomas ~ I hope you enjoy the film!

      I grew up hearing the sculptures referred to as the 'Elgin Marbles' but nowadays I'm with the Greeks and call them the Parthenon marbles. Just seems more fair..

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  7. What a fascinating, multi-talented woman!

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    1. She was a powerhouse - wish she was still around to see the Acropolis Museum come to life~

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