Dozens of Cretans and Heraklion residents were called upon to play minor parts in the film “El Greco”, about the life of the painter Domenicos Theotokopoulos. Filming in Crete and Venice has now finished, leaving only the shoots in Spain and Rhodes to complete the personal vision of director Yiannis Smaragdis. The preparation alone took seven years.
Mr Smaragdis would specially like to thank the people of Crete, who helped to make this dream come true:
“Literally hundreds of people offered to help, either by donating personal items, jewellery, clothing and heirlooms or by taking part in the film. Some people even took months to prepare by growing beards, moustaches and long hair. Men and women left their jobs and responsibilities, not only to gain the experience of a film shoot, but above all to help Greco, making the film their personal affair. Often in unfavourable conditions, in bad weather, in heavy costumes for long hours, they bore their burden with patience, as a labour of love”, he stated.
This impressed all the professional actors and film personnel, who admitted that they had never seen anything like it. They were literally speechless at the natural presence, courtesy and patience of the participators, who looked like figures from the past in their costumes, and constantly repeated that they had never seen such authentic faces in any other Greek production.
The two-week shoot in Heraklion recreated the historical past of the city, which was suddenly full of 16th-century Venetian lords and ladies, Cretan nobles and merchants, rebels and commoners. The scenes were shot at Koules, the harbour, in the mountains of Anoyia and Gonies, at Arkadi and on specially-made sets in Gournes. The director has offered to donate the sets of El Greco’s house and studio to a future El Greco museum.