Wednesday 27 April 2022

REVIEW: Echoes of the Past Starring Max Von Sydow

Review by Jon Donnis
There have been countless films made about "The Holocaust", but not so many films made about the genocides of other ethnic groups. On December 13, 1943 there was such a genocide, one you will probably never have heard of if you live outside of Greece. 

Σφαγή των Καλαβρύτων (The Kalavryta Holocaust) and the massacre by Nazi troops is a dark day in the history of a great country.

Echoes of the Past tells two fictional stories side by side, but based on a very real historic event, a modern story about the Greek Government launching a claim against Germany for reparations and the story of Nikolas Andreou (played by Max von Sydow in the Modern era), as a child he managed to escape the massacre, and now is on his final days on this earth, haunted by the horrors he witnessed and escaped from.

Caroline Martin (Astrid Roos) is a Berlin lawyer hired by the German Government to investigate the claim by the Greeks. The fear from the German government being that if they were to pay Greece reparations, it would open the door to many other countries of whom they massacred citizens. Her job is to travel to Greece and find anything that can undermine the case for reparations. 

Through flashbacks to Nikolas' youth the story of the occupation and genocide is told. And when Caroline tracks down adult Nikolas, the film takes a long hard look at the painful memories, and how Caroline has to deal with the truth.

Max von Sydow who died in March 2020 is excellent in his final ever role. A powerful performance drags the viewer into the film, and although tough to watch at times, due to the subject matter, it will leave a lasting effect on your psyche.

There is a very powerful moment in the film when Caroline Martin visits the very real Museum of the Kalavrytan genocide. We see photos of the victims and the background you hear voices of the murdered, it is a moment that will bring you to tears because it is so real.

The Good
A truly powerful film, that anyone with an interest in history should watch. There are so many stories like this of real events that never get told, and although this is a fictional story, it is based on events that are very real.

The Bad
In the flashbacks, the Greeks are speaking in Greek, yet the Germans are speaking in English. I understand why they did this, as they want to appeal to the English speaking audience, but if we can read subtitles for the Greek bits, then the German bits shouldn't be a problem either.

Have I used the word Powerful yet? A very well-made film, which did huge numbers when released in Greece, because for the Greek people these historical events are still so painful, and the fact that their stories are rarely told, so when one is told it means so much in raising awareness. I can only hope this film encourages other filmmakers to cover other historical events.

I score Echoes of the Past a strong 8/10

Out now on Digital and VoD 
Watch on Amazon
Watch on Apple TV