a parody of a tragedy
«The film "O Drakos" is about a mousy, timid, bespectacled guy in Athens who sees a newspaper photo of a fugitive criminal mastermind called "The Fiend". It's the spitting image of the harmless nerd. A gang of starstruck crooks sees our hapless hero, mistakes him for the Fiend, rescues him from imminent arrest and more or less forces him to lead a desperate criminal scheme they've got going. And finally, the poor little man becomes enamoured of the idea, decides for once in his sad life to be a tough guy and a hero. He surrenders to his bizarre destiny, to be "The Fiend of Athens"...
O Drakos is brilliant: a dark, satirical noir masterpiece... is like a French New Wave picture crossed with a British Ealing comedy, with something of Fellini in its zinging energy, and Carol Reed's Odd Man Out and The Third Man. The stark, dramatic key-lighting in the "arrest" scene gives the imagery a Weegee-type crime-scene aesthetic...» Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
O Drakos... The Fiend of Athens... L'Ogre d'Athènes..., is a 1956 Greek black-and-white film directed by Nikos Koundouros, written by Iakovos Kampanellis, musical composition by Manos Hatzidakis and produced by Athens Film Company. It won the award for best movie 1955-1959 in the first Thessaloniki Film Festival. It also took part in the Venice Film Festival. In the 50's it was a great novelty for the local production. When the film opened in Greek cinemas in 1956, it was a disaster. It was international recognition of the film that changed its course. It is considered today as one of the 10 (and recently one of the three) most important Greek films.
"O Drakos is a coded movie. We could not speak. All kinds of censorship, direct, formal and informal, surrounded us firmly. Kambanelis and I wanted to make a film with successive codes, the same ones used by the prisoners, with one, two, three strikes."
ERT Archives 1, ERT Archives 2
The movie is mentioned (and plays an important role) in Jonathan Franzen's novel Freedom, with the title The Fiend of Athens."O Drakos", the name of the movies hero, "acted as model" for his novel "Freedom" says Jonathan Franzen in his interview in Eleftherotypia "ridiculus and deadly serious at the same time". Franzen had watched the movie, he mentions, in 1979 in the Art Institute of Chicago and as he pictured Walter as an involuntary outlaw hero it came in naturally that he and Patty had seen the movie in their student years. In another interview (Vima) he mentions that he likes works which invent interesting ways of linking ordinary people’s everyday lives to the global life of their society...