The Repetition Of A Myth

Antonakis Christodoulou

"It is past midnight. Famous heart surgeon Alexis Fahrenheit's car crosses the empty avenue at break-neck speed. He is visibly drunk, most likely upset. All the ghosts of his past are there, with him. From what is he trying to escape? Is he feeling guilty? Is he guilty? Do Erinyes hunt down innocents?"

The above extract is from the text I wrote for "Guilty or Innocent?", a video based on the familiar movie scene where the leading actor will find himself in the awkward situation of reliving fragments of his story in the form of visions projected on the windscreen of his vehicle. The car crash is always inevitable at the high point of such a dramas.

How many times can a woman run out flustered in the street? For how many different reasons? How many times can such a situation be recorded? In how many ways? I was wondering this while I watched the actress Zoe Lascari (in one of these scenes) in a movie she has filmed with the director Yiannis Dalianidis in the 50's — 60's, the so-called golden period of the Greek cinema (a copy on a small scale of Hollywood's mythological system but with it's own symbols, characters, roles and dramas).

It is the same actress every time, the same director, the same speech and definitely the same way. Is it an illusion? No, it happened, it is happening and it will be happening again and again. These scenes can be used for infinite stories. We may encounter them in the films of Hitchcock or Antonioni, always with small variations depending on everyone's style; they are part of world cinema's language, isolated and vague with regard to the scenario. So, the origin of my references is of no importance. The response will never be the same and therefore I will collect many different answers depending on every spectator's references and memories.

The truth, which someone finds in a myth, is absolutely personal. There is no single "true" version of which all the others are but copies or distortions. Every version belongs to the myth. My heroine in "Betrayal" is in pain, she is desperate, she runs into the night and she doesn't know where to go. She may have been betrayed, she may have betrayed, she may just be exaggerating. Jean- Pierre Vernant says that mythological narration hasn't been entrenched into a definitive form. It always disposes variations, multiple versions which the narrator has at his disposal. He chooses one among them depending on the circumstances, the audience or his tastes, he can cut them off, augment them or change them as he pleases. In my case, I am asking the viewer to decide.

Some claim that human societies merely express, through their mythology, fundamental feelings common to the whole of mankind, such as love, hate or revenge, or that they try to provide some kind of explanations for phenomena which they cannot otherwise understand (astronomical, meteorological). On the other hand psychoanalysts and many anthropologists have shifted the problems away from the natural or cosmological towards sociological and psychological fields. Cinema and television's (e.g. soap operas) contemporary myths depend on and comment on all of the above. Directors with obsessions, clichéd scenes and every story can be told in countless ways. Besides, what gives the myth an operational value is that the specific pattern described is timeless, it explains the present and the past as well as the future.

The same girl (in "Betrayal") will perform my Electra and one of the three visions in "Guilty or Innocent?". Is there a relation? Could all these films in addition to the same references that connect them, be part of the same story? My story? Claude Levi-Strauss says that myth is language: to be known, must to be told. I want to speak about my myths-obsessions and be myself a part of a circle. The circle, what a shape! Never ends, never begins. It is so tiring and corrupting, it can become frightening. All this is exciting. In the past there have been thousands of Antonakis and in the future there will exist as many again, and every one of them will have a story to tell, which will not refer to the ones that have preceded it. A relay race of repetition then. Imagine a never ending circle.