DAYS OF ’36 (Meres Tou '36)


days-of-36-meres-tou-36-nov-29thA trade unionist is assassinated at a rally. Sofianos, a police informer and drug trafficker on probation, is arrested and charged. A Conservative MP visits the prisoner, and is taken hostage. A political crisis ensues. Filmed during the colonels’ dictatorship in Greece (1967-1974), this is an early piece of filmmaking from Angelopoulos and metaphor for the political vacuum and incompetence of that time. “And when the mostly anonymous characters do speak, they speak in the way that the satiric characters from the best plays of Samuel Beckett do.” Dan Schneider, (Cert 12A)
Dir: Theo Angelopoulos 104 mins Greece 1972
This screening will start at 7.30 p.m.

Programme Notes

Days of ’36 (Meres Tou ’36)
Greece 1972 104 minutes Cert. 12

1936 was a time of great turbulence in Greece, as in other European countries. During the first four months three of the most powerful contemporary politicians died unexpectedly and the Communists were becoming ever more influential. Following these deaths the king appointed General Ioannis Metaxas prime minister. In May there was major industrial unrest, with tobacco workers demanding better conditions, but getting nowhere. There was fighting in the streets and great violence on the part of the authorities with a number of deaths. So much for the background to the film, which is said to be based on actual events of the period.

The following synopsis is taken from the Angelopoulos official website: “A trade unionist is assassinated at a workers’ rally and a former police informer, Sofianos, is arrested and charged with the murder. The accused, a greatly troubled personage, … is being used to infiltrate and bring down his old accomplices. He is visited in prison by a Conservative Member of Parliament with whom he has a homosexual relationship. Using a smuggled gun, the prisoner takes the politician hostage creating an embarrassing and increasingly absurd scandal for the authorities. … When “reason” and threats fail, they attempt to dispose of Sofianos, at first clumsily …, then, finally, with the devastating accuracy of a bullet … . Order is finally restored but in the process two facts have emerged that reflect Angelopoulos’ view of Greek history as portrayed in this film. Firstly that the government was so weak and corrupt that the actions of one person almost brought it down and secondly that it was so incompetent that it could solve a problem only through murder.”

It should of course be remembered that from 1967 – 1974 Greece was controlled by a military junta (“The Colonels”).

Lawyer (Kontaxis) – Giorgos Kiritsis
Minister – Christoforos Chimaras
Chief of Police – Takis Doukakos
Sofianos – Kostas Pavlou
Lukas Petros – Petros Zarkadis
Prison Warden – Christophoros Nezer
Guard – Vassilis Tsaglos
Kreezis – Yannis Kandilas

Director – Theodoros Angelopoulos
Screenplay – Theo. Angelopoulos, Petros Markaris, Thanassis Valtinos, Stratis Karras
Cinematography – Giorgios Arvanitis, Vassilis Christomoglou
Editing – Vassilis Syropoulos
Music – Giorgos Papastefanou
Producer – Giorgos Papalios



“Brilliant! Should be compulsory viewing for this government – and the last one!”

“A very moving and evocative documentary”

“Great – when we were all in it together and knew our enemy.”

“Newly informative, to me, about an otherwise much-known part of history”

“Very interesting. Don’t know how anyone could say that was boring!”

“Fascinating – bring back the Welfare Offices!”

“Fascinating piece of history – and they tried!”

“Some fascinating images of a bygone age”

“Stirring propaganda!”

“Propagandist tosh!”

“Interesting and good for morale!”

“Unbearably nostalgic and sad: how different Bevin was compared to Speer/Goebbels.”

“A somewhat clumsy attempt to forestall any movement of the workers towards Communism!”

“An interesting relic of the welfare state during the war years”

“Was that Ernest Bevan? [sic] Health and Safety but still no ban on smoking. The hush-hush factory was apparently so hush-hush that it was forgotten once she got off the ‘bus.”

DAYS OF ’36 (feature)

“What a masterpiece!”

“Amazing, such confident use of slow pace. So often we followed the principals to a door – they went through, we were left behind in the ante-room. Like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern!”

“Amazing film! Not always clear on the details but marvellous colours and surreal atmosphere.”

“Incredible, baffling, amazing, so absorbing. There was so much to think about ….”

“What a clever film. The only safe place to be was in the cavalry – you could see what the others were doing!”

“Quite compelling but I wish I had understood it more!”

“Didn’t understand any of it but the cinematography was excellent.”

“I liked the photography but struggled to take much meaning from it or even follow the sequence of events.”

“A unique prison film that took its time in getting the story together but the pay-off was worth it.”

“Very balletic – was walking in circles a metaphor?”

“I suppose the puppet-like portrayal of despotic power and repression hit the mark and the slow pace did convey the stifling atmosphere of the regime but, on the other hand, it was a bit like Dad’s Army without the jokes. Good smoking, good white suits and co-respondent shoes.”

“It was interesting to note how similarly oppressive regimes operated but I found it hard to follow in places and ended up completely confused!”

“Some interesting shots but it was so slow – and what was going on?”

“I would have enjoyed it more if I had had more of a clue what was going on!”

“Maybe I might understand it if I sat through it a couple of times more!”

“Bleak. I really did not know who was who and I lost the plot before it even started. A study in men’s jackets and uniform styles of the 1930s.”

“Fascinating film but too much walking about [Noted car number plates, 217, 203, 521, 403, 136, 189.]”

“Too many long, slow scenes in which faceless characters did bugger all! Maybe it got past the censors because they dozed off!”

“The cinematography was stunning but I couldn’t make any sense of what was happening. I had no idea of what was at stake politically, or who was on what side. The often farcical atmosphere seemed at odds with the seriousness of the subject – what was the subject?”

“Huge disappointment. I expected a lot but it managed to be very slow and unintelligible. Who did the lawyer go to see? Why was he beaten up? The prison music scene was very reminiscent of The Shawshank Redemption. I wonder if it inspired it ….”

“The film may have been intended to draw a parallel between 1936 and the Colonels but it was so slow and boring that the censors must have gone to sleep!”

“Incomprehensible and unconvincing. It felt like watching Monty Python but with the jokes missing.”

“I kept expecting John Cleese to turn up. The Greek for Conservative is ‘comatose’ [?], which is how I felt by the end.”

“Tedious, boring – lack of translatable conversation”

“Seemed a long 36 days – MBWA (management by walking about!)”

“Slow and painful”

“Stultifyingly slow and disjointed”


A:8, B:6, C:14, D:11, E:3 to give 53%