Dir.: Nicolas Dimitropoulos; Cast: Max von Sydow, Astrid Roos, Danae Skiadi, Nickolas Papagiannis, Maximos Livieratos, Martin Laer, Alice Kriege, Tomas Arana, Prometheus Aleiferopoulos; Greece 2021, 98 min.
Echoes of the Past is a wartime drama dedicated to Max von Sydow in his final role of a stunning career. Sadly, Nicolas Dimitropoulos and his scriptwriter Dimitrios Katsantonis have made rather a mess of their attempt to fictionalise the 1943 Kalaryta massacre where 752 Greek civilians lost their lives at the hands of German troops, in the northern Peloponnese.
Alexis Andreou (Papagiannis) is a member of the Greek partisans fighting the occupying German forces. After some of them are killed, General Le Suire (Arana) asks commandant Tenner (Laer) to shoot all male inhabitants of the town and burn the women and children in the school house. Tenner, whose father deserted in WWI, is only too willing to follow orders, but Austrian private Friedrich Braun (Aleiferopoulos) single-handedly saves the lives of the women and children involved.
The two strands, past and present, unfold in parallel: German government lawyer Caroline Martin (Roos) is trying to avoid making reparations for the massacre, proud at having never lost a case. She visits Kalavryta and meets the only survivor, writer Nicholas Andreou, on his last legs. Out of the blue Martin then resigns, claiming the payout should go ahead. But not before she pays a ‘tea and sympathy’ visit to private Braun’s widow Frau Voss (Krige) in Thal, Austria, proving there to be one good German and one good Austrian in this war crime saga.
DoP Yorgos Rahmatoulin’s images are as uninspired as script and direction, Echoes hovers between sensationalist hyper-realism and soppiness ultimately lacking the gravitas to do justice to such a momentous episode in history. AS
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