Smyrna: The Destruction Of A Cosmopolitan City – 1900-1922

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(out of 5)


A fascinating documentary that explores the golden age of the multi-ethnic city of Smyrna before its destruction.  Director Maria Iliou and her team of researchers spent four years investigating the details of this moment in cultural history, as part of an exhibit at the Benaki Museum in Athens.  A rich archive of footage and photographs tell the story of a city that once thrived with Greek, Armenian, Jewish and Turkish citizens, some American ex-patriots as well, a range of religions among them living in peaceful co-existence and enjoying the benefits of an economy made strong by the city’s position between the eastern and western worlds.  History is related to us via the knowledge of authors and historians, while a number of individuals who descend from citizens of the great metropolis (or, in one extraordinary case, an Armenian man born there and still able to recall vivid images of the city from his memories) relate cultural details of this near-mythical place before it was destroyed in a fire in September of 1922.  The proof of what really happened is lost to time, but the arrival of Turkish troops a few days before the fire began is an easy connection to make; that said, Iliou focuses more on a dreamy trip into the past and leaves angry political rhetoric at the door.  The speakers are frequently moved by the stories they relate from past family members and give the documentary a personal touch that goes beyond the History Channel programming it might at first seem to be.


Graal

Greece, 2012

Directed by Maria Ilioú

Screenplay by Maria Ilioú

Cinematography by Allen Moore

Produced by

Music by

Film Editing by

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