MED 231 Australian Cinema
Assignment #2: Critical Review and Bibliography
By: Jacqueline Andrews
Lecturer: Dr. Garry Gillard
Date: 23/4/2007

 

 

 

Beware of Greeks Bearing Guns

 

 

 

 

 

“Tradition demands revenge, and two brothers are sent to Australia to settle a long-standing vendetta and restore the family honor.”

 

 

 

Part 1: Film Information

 

Crew:
Director: John Tatoulis
Screenwriters: Tom Galbraith and Lakis Lazopoulos
Cinematographer: Peter Zakharov
Producers: Colin J. South, Dionyssis Samiotis, Anastasios Vsaliou
Original Music by: Henning Schmeidt and Makis Theodorakis
Film Editing: Michael Collins
Art Director: Mirian Johnson
Sound Editor: James Harvey

Cast:
Manos and George: Lakis Lazopoulos
Nicki: Zoe Carides
Stephanos: John Bluthal
Katerina: Claudia Buttazzoni
Yiayia Maria: Tasso Kavadia
Maria (1943 – 1971): Nonni Ionnidou
Enzo: Osvaldo Maione
Petros: Percy Sieff
Thomas: Ron Haddrick
Helen: Anastasia Malinof

Release Dates:
12 September 2002 (Australia)
DVD and VHS rental: 12 February 2003

Rating:
            M (low level violence, adult themes)

Running Time:
82 minutes

Also Released as:
            Fovou tous Ellines – Greece
            Killer wider Willen – Germany

Awards and Film Festivals:
Opening night film at the Australian Greek Film Festival in 2002

Studios and Distributors:
A Palace films (Australia) realease of an Australian Film Finance
Corporation presentation on a Media World Features (Melbourne)/ Mythos Productions (Athens) co-production, in association with Film Victoria, Mega Channel, the Greek Film Centre, and international sales headed by Trident Releasing, L.A.

 

Budget:
2.8 million Australian dollars

 

Bibiographical Details: (reviews, write-ups, articles, discussions)

Beware of Greeks Bearing Guns was not a very large production, so it did not receive as much media attention as some other movies released with bigger budgets for advertising. Because the movie isn’t extremely well known in Australia, there are only a few reviews that can be found on the internet when searching the title of the film.
            The film appears on many different movie review websites, including Internet Movie Database, The New York Times movie section, Rotten Tomatoes and other sites of this nature. Even though the movie appears on these sites, there are almost no reviews written for the film. On The New York Times website, a synopsis is given but no review. The case is the same for Rotten Tomatoes and Yahoo Movies. On the IMDB website, only two user comments appeared and there is only one listing in the literature section of the website, and it is a German review.
            One review that I could find for this film was located on TheCIA.com.au and says as follows:
“Sigh. I really wanted to like Beware of Greeks bearing guns not just because it sounded like a good story but because it could so easily advance the cause of multi-culturalism in an increasingly intolerant Australia. (Intolerance is a cornerstone of the Liberal party.) There is nothing like a funny film to get across the point that people are people no matter from where they came or how much they "assimilate". Humour is the greatest weapon in anyone's arsenal.
Unfortunately, Beware of Greeks bearing guns is firing blanks. Tom Galbraith and Lakis Lazopoulos shoot themselves in the foot by using a style that belongs to the 1940s rather than a modern Australia (I say nothing about modern Greece). If they had restricted the old humour to the olden days and brought in modern humour for the modern days, the film would have been worth watching. They didn't, it isn't.”

As for interviews, the only ones that are listed for Lakis Lazopoulos are interviews that are done
purely in Greek for Greek magazines.

Online Presence and Sources for General Information
Internet Movie Database (www.IMBD.com)
Rotten Tomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com)
Media World (www. Mediaworld.com)
The CIA.com (www.theCIA.com.au)

Part 2: Synopsis and Critical Film Discussion

Synopsis:
The movie begins with a scene in Crete from 1943 where two young men are chasing each other and one (Vasilli Philipakis) shoots the other (Alexandros). Alexandros dies in the arms of his wife, Maria, and Maria swears to avenge her husband’s death and promises to raise her family to complete the vendetta. She ends up raising her twin grandsons, mild-mannered school teacher Manos and lazy drunk George, and tells them that one day they will avenge the death of their grandfather.
Many years later, Vasilli is finally found in Melbourne, and an old family friend contacts Yiayia Maria who immediately sends Manos (the oldest of the twins) to go and kill Vasilli. Manos leaves and arrives to stay with family friend Stephanos, whose daughter Nicki was once in love with Manos. Nickis’ daughter Katerina meets Manos and sees that he is still in love with her mother, and begins to think that Manos could be her long lost father. We learn that Manos is not Katerina’s father, but that Nicki and Manos were engaged to be married a long time ago and Nicki made a mistake which is why she moved to Melbourne.
We soon find out that Manos does not have it in him to kill a man, and his twin brother comes to Melbourne to complete the task. While there, he creates all kinds of trouble for Manos and hilarity ensues.
In the end we learn that in 1943, the scene that we saw in the beginning of the film was not exactly how the story happened. Yiayia Maria reveals that she was in love with Vasilli and that her husbands’ death was an accident. Maria had planned on following Vasilli to Melbourne but never made it, making her bitter against him, and wanting to complete the vendetta. We also find out that Vasilli is really Manos and George’s grandfather.
All the characters end up in Crete, with everyone happy. Maria and Vasilli are finally happy together and Nicki and Manos are together as well.

Critical Review of Film:
            Beware of Greeks with Guns is described by many different sources that it falls into the categories of drama, comedy, action, and romance. The film was a hit in Greece, but wasn't as popular in other countries it was released in, including America, Australia, and Germany.
            The film is produced by many Greek people, as you can see by the names listed in the list of crewmembers. There are also plenty of Greek names in the list of the main characters, and I think by watching this film you can tell that for the most part, it has a lot of Greek influence.
            The director, John Tatoulis, is a Greek director with a history of making Australian films that are family oriented. He also directed The Silver Brumby (1993) which is classified mainly as a family film, and The Adventures of Kythera (1991) which is a series for kids and family. He also directed a couple of films that do not fit the genre of family including In Too Deep (1990) and Zone 39 (1996), both of which are thrillers.
            Keeping in mind that I was raised in a very Greek family, and an especially Greek father, I think that this movie was primarily made for an audience who understands what being a part of a Greek family means, which is why I think it did so well in Greece and wasn't as popular in other countries. Although I think that some parts of the film could be enjoyed by other people who are not of Greek descent, I could see how some people would not find this film very entertaining.
I think that this film falls into the sub-genre of romantic comedy, because although not all of the film revolves around the romantic relationship involving the main characters, much of the film has a romantic feel about it, and the ending is very romantic and happy. There are also many parts in this movie that are there purely for comic relief.
I would put this movie in the romantic comedy sector more than any other category of comedy because it “is a narrative that deals with the trials and tribulations of a couple establishing and working out a relationship”.   Although the relationship in the movie is a serious one and has aspects that should not be taken lightly, the movie definitely has a comedic mode, and as I stated before, there are many parts of the movie that serve as comic relief. The movie also ends with the “guy getting the girl” factor that helps set its place in the romantic comedy sub-genre.
Another sub-genre of comedy that I think this movie could fall into would be satire. I thought the movie was hilarious in the way it dealt with Greek people, specifically of the island Crete, and I loved the way it portrayed the life they lead. Much of the movie I think was meant to exaggerate how Greek people are, but even exaggerations sometimes ring true, which occurs in this film. A lot of the comedy in this movie was based on how Greek people act, so I think that this could definitely be argued into the satire sub-genre due to the spoof on Greek people.
 “Beware of Greeks Bearing Guns” was Australian not only because it was funded by Australian money, but is filmed a lot in Melbourne. There are many Australian actors along with the Greek actors, and I think that the movie portrays how a Greek-Australian family would live their lives in Australia. The Australian quirk in this movie I think is in the characteristic sense. The characters have many quirky traits and a lot of the events that take place are a little strange and funny. Nothing in this film feels very ordinary or normal, and every event that takes place has a funny aspect. Even in an event in which characters should be acting serious (example: getting pulled over by police when the driver has been drinking and there is a gun in the car) the movie instead makes the situation seem very funny by making something ridiculous happen with the characters in the film (example: the men in the car start singing an insulting Greek song about police).

Critical Uptake
Although I could only find one review of the film, the one that I did find was not a very positive one. The two member reviews that were found on The Internet Movie Database were very kind and I think it can be said that both of the members enjoyed the movie very much. I must also mention that one of the names of the two reviewers was also very Greek, so I can assume that he had taken the same position as I had in enjoying the exaggerations of Greek life and tradition.

Sources and References

 

“Beware of Greeks Bearing Guns (Fovou tous ellines…)”. Cinematic Intelligence
Agency. 2000. Murdoch University. 10 April 2007. < http://thecia.com.au /reviews/b/beware-of-greeks-bearing-guns.shtml>

“Beware of Greeks Bearing Guns”. Media World. 2000. Murdoch University. 10
April 2007. <http://www.mediaworld.com.au/?q=node/34#sales>

Gillard, Garry. Ten Types of Australian Film. Murdoch University: Chapter 8.
“Synopsis, Beware of Greeks Bearing Guns.” BFI: Film and TV Database. 2000.
Murdoch University. 10 April 2007. < http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/ 633595?view=synopsis>


BFI.org

TheCIA.com.au

Imbd.com

Gillard

Gillard