February 15, 2022
Kalavryta was a real war crime committed in Greece, but this fictional drama – featuring von Sydow in his last film role – fails to deliver much justice
Echoes of the Past review – Max von Sydow’s final film is coda to a Nazi atrocity
Max von Sydow, in his final film role, does what he can to lend gravitas to this odd, stilted and contrived movie, a fictional drama based on a horrendous Nazi atrocity in occupied Greece in 1943, for which the question of reparations still grumbles on. In Kalavryta in the northern Peloponnese, nearly 700 civilians were shot by the Nazi forces, in chilling reprisal for Greek resistance fighters executing 78 German soldiers taken prisoner. Von Sydow plays Nikolas, an ageing Greek writer who as a young boy miraculously escaped the massacre, but has been haunted by it ever since. In the present day, Astrid Roos plays Caroline Martin, an ambitious Berlin lawyer who is tasked by a heartless and cynical German government to go to Greece and to find details that might undermine their case for reparations.
The tense occupation and slaughter of 1943 themselves are recounted in flashback, and director Nicholas Dimitropoulos makes a reasonably workmanlike Job of this drama. But the film strangely insists on imagining a balancing “good German” who supposedly helps the Greek Women and children. It is his existence that Caroline refuses to use against the Greek government, due to that predictable crisis of conscience to which the action had been unsubtly leading from the outset. She, in effect, becomes the film’s second imaginary “good German”, whose behaviour is at odds with the cynical German government.
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