Crystal Nights

The late Tonia Marketaki was one of Greek cinema’s most acclaimed women directors. Her work combines elements of eroticism and mysticism in its explorations of Greek history. Crystal Nights is a heady brew of sorcery, sex and reincarnation set before, during and after World War Two. A mystic tells a young German girl, Isabella, that her ideal lover will be born the day she marries. Years later, in 1938, the now 40-year-old woman is married to a Greek officer but falls madly in love with a young Jew, Albert. When Albert marries a younger woman, Isabelle commits suicide. Reborn as the girl Anna, she comes to rescue an older Albert when he faces death at the hands of the Nazis. The film gets its title from the name given to the first systematic attacks by the Nazis on Jewish shop windows in 1938. Although Marketaki’s highly stylised and poetic movie examines anti-Semitism in Greece and the terrible fate of the country during World War Two, its core concern is with the notion of a mythical, idealised love that transcends barriers of time and politics. With its time-shifting narrative and constant switches from colour to sepia-toned images, Crystal Nights is a heavily symbolic and sometimes obscure film, but there’s no denying the passion and skill behind its making.
(1992. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby stereo SR. 138 mins.)

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