Saturday 1 December 2018

100 Essential Films That Deserve More Attention - 24. O Fovos

People embrace the enchanting glow of the big screen for all manner of reasons; to journey to faraway places they could only ever imagine, to experience the escapism of a captivating story, or maybe to indulge in an obsession with the world of cinema. For me, all three of these reasons apply - and many more - but first and foremost is the satisfaction of recommending obscure films to other like-minded individuals who adopt them as their new favourites.

With over 100 years worth of films to choose from, and many of these now available at the click of a button, it can be extremely difficult to narrow your choices down to pick a film to watch. Although cinema has been around for over four times longer than my life on this earth, I have spent what some may consider an unhealthy amount of these years delving into the history of films to discover some of the best hidden gems out there.

This series of articles aims to highlight the overlooked masterpieces that I have unearthed whilst exploring the forgotten recesses of cinema. Take a gamble on any one of these films and I guarantee that you will be eagerly awaiting all future instalments in this series. You may well have heard of a number of these films; my aim isn't merely to shine a spotlight on the most obscure films out there, but to share my enjoyment of those films which don't have the cult following I believe they deserve.

O Fovos
Director Kostas Manoussakis 
Country - Greece
Year - 1966
Runtime - 102 Minutes

Fear consumes all of us at some point in our lives - ranging from the trivial to the profound. Director Kostas Manoussakis explores its all consuming impact on an impulsive farmhand, Anestis, in the aftermath of a heinous crime in his 1966 film O Fovos - The Fear. The farmhand's father, Dimitros, has taken a second wife after the failure of his first marriage, and Anestis lives with him alongside his step mum and step sister, Anna, in their countryside estate, that is also shared with a deaf and mute housemaid.

Anestis' feelings of inadequacy are exacerbated by an encounter with a neighbouring farmhand who regales him with tales of promiscuity, encouraging him to act upon his inner desire to be with a woman. Anestis' voyeuristic nature leads him to peering through holes in doors or leering through the undergrowth at women working the field, waiting for an opportunity to present itself. When Anestis' carnal instict kicks in he completely loses control and is subsequently wracked with guilt and shame over his actions.

The build up to this life-altering event and the ensuing fallout are both equally as thrilling to behold. Manoussakis uses stylistic choices that heighten the tension, such as abrupt and dramatic cuts and a pounding, tribal like musical accompaniment that tangle with the audiences nerves. We fear that something terrible is about to happen, and rightly so, but this doesn't compare to the fear that engulfs Anestis as he tries to cope with the consequences of his deplorable act.

The dynamics between the family members provide further dramatic tension to the story. Anna is set on marrying a mechanic, much to the chagrin of Dimitros, who detests the mechanic's father. This frustration increases the rift that is forming in Dimitros' second marriage, as his wife would happily allow their daughter to marry the mechanic. When Anestis' crime is discovered, this pushes the family to breaking point as they attempt to cover up his wrongdoings. Anna eventually learns of the incident and uses this as leverage against her father to agree to her marriage to the mechanic. The repercussions of this crime continue to have severe consequences on the rest of his family but it is ultimately Anestis who must shoulder the blame and the endless suffering for his grave mistake.

O Fovos is without doubt a minor masterpiece of Greek cinema, and one that has been criminally
overlooked outside of its native country. Its story imbibes the Greek culture of the time it depicts but does not depend on it, allowing the universal themes of fear and shame to be fully appreciated by film fans of any nationality. The striking imagery and pulsing soundtrack are likely to stay with you just as long as the tragic storyline will linger in your mind. The beauty of the Greek countryside and its alluring inhabitants will inevitably leave a lasting impression of a fascinating and stunning part of the world, even though Anestis' world is sadly torn apart by the profound fear that consumes him.

If you take the time to watch O Fovos then it would be awesome if you could also take the time to let me know what you thought of it, either by commenting below or tweeting me @filmbantha. Thanks, and enjoy!

For previous instalments in the series click here

1 comment:

  1. The film was overlooked for many decades in Greece too. Sadly it's director never managed to make another film again. It was rediscovered by young Greek directors like Syllas Tzoumerkas (Homeland). The directors correct name is Kostas Manoussakis.