Rembetiko (1983)

Rembetiko (1983)

The story of a group of Rembetes, singers and musicians of the Greek equivalent to the blues, in the early decades of the 20th century, seen through the eyes of a young female singer.

Rembetiko (Greek: Ρεμπέτικο) is a 1983 film directed by Costas Ferris and written by Costas Ferris and Sotiria Leonardou, with original music by Stavros Xarchakos. The film is based on the life of rebetiko singer Marika Ninou.

About the Story

This musical drama sweeps through a turbulent 40 years in popular singer Marika’s (Sotiria Leonardou) life – and in the history of Greece – starting with the singer’s birth in Smyrna, Turkey in 1917. Marika was deported to Greece along with all the other Greeks in Smyrna when she was seven years old, and a few years later, her parents started a career as a musician and a singer in a nightclub/bar.

In the short space of one decade, Marika witnesses her father murder her mother, runs away from home, has a baby, and comes back to the nightclub to sing in an act with a childhood friend, Yorgos and a bouzouki player, Babis. Success finally comes at the expense of the suicide of another female singer at the club (named Rosa), but then Yorgos is exiled for political reasons, and she and Babis leave for other venues.

Although Marika carries a torch for Babis, their relationship never seems to work out, and after many years and World War II go by, she sends her daughter away to a convent school (and later becomes a dancer in a cabaret, much to Marika’s chagrin) and goes on a tour in America. She then returns to Greece to find herself supplanted by a younger singer named Matina who has caught the attention of Babis. Near the end of the movie, she is stabbed in the stomach the night of her reunion concert, but survives the stabbing. Eventually, Marika dies of cancer and is buried by the people she sang with as they sing in her memory at the cemetery.

There have been hypotheses that the story is based on the life of Marika Ninou with Babis playing the part of Vasilis Tsitsanis. However, there are glaring differences between the film and the real life of Marika Ninou.

Marika Ninou only began singing after World War II. While she went to America, she never went with Vasilis Tsitsanis but in fact went with Kostas Kaplanis. She then returned to Greece and died of cancer. The film mentions a conflict with a singer name Rosa (Roza Eskenazi?)but no such incident has ever been documented.

Rembetiko Movie Poster (1983)

Directed by: Costas Ferris
Starring: Sotiria Leonardou, Nikos Kalogeropoulos, Michalis Maniatis, Themis Bazaka, Nikos Dimitratos, Vicky Vanita, Giorgos Zorbas, Konstantinos Tzoumas
Screenplay by: Costas Ferris, Sotiria Leonardou
Cinematography by: Takis Zervoulakos
Film Editing by: Yanna Spyropoulou
Costume Design by: Maria Maniati
Set Decoration by: Manolis Maridakis
Art Direction by: Manolis Maridakis
Music by: Stavros Xarhako
Distributed by: Athos Films
Release Date: May 11, 1983