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Life from a Scratch

Some 10 years after reflection on the Greek film Correction (2007) by Thanos Anastopoulos


An anonymous man alone with his guilt in an anonymous city. Although neither him, nor the place is left unnamed throughout the film, this is the emotional refrain that frames my personal perception of Correction.

The story emerges slowly and hesitantly and it is so concise that could be verbally transmitted in a line. Because the subsequence of actual events is not the core of the film. Its effective facture is the world of the main character (Giorgos Symeonidis) who speaks sparingly but his face and body tell everything. We are not always sure where is he going or why is he doing this or that but his emotional palette is clearly readable in the anxious close-ups, in the way he obsessively chases his goal, in the dynamics of his restless wandering  around the streets, through the optics of the suffocating camera. The depiction of his inner state of mind is the picture´s focus while the storyline is just an orientating trajectory throughout his psychological journey.

The plot unfolds as he gets released from prison and it will not be confirmed until the very end of the film what he was there for. As most former prisoners he has to build up his life from a scratch and the scratch he picks up is the redemption for his guilt. Although it seems that his aim is to win the goodwill of the woman and her daughter he is chasing, they are just a tool for achieving his personal relief. Such a loner is this character that he remains self-sufficient even within a trio ensemble.

As mentioned above, the urban environment is anonymous just like the main character. We are aware that the action takes place in Athens but the city is not present on screen with its easy recognizable landmarks, so only connoisseur´s sharp eye would spot and point out actual locations. Such an approach miraculously coverts the sunny Mediterranean city in a toneless iceberg of concrete.

Ethnic intolerance which is the key leitmotif of the film conflict as the very end reveals, was still not an overly discussed issue by the time when Correction was made which probably could explain the shy, almost ambiguous author´s approach.  Although it is a significantly present topic in Balkan cinema (especially when it comes to post-Yugoslavian war films) its use rate in the region is incomparable to the hyper exploitation of the theme by European cinema as part of the multiculturalism trend. So if today Correction might seems tedious and banal for treating a hackneyed problem, we should not forget that it was released before the topic gets so worn out on screen. And even today it impresses with delicacy, absence of slogans and artistic intuition that has much more to do with human cognition than with ideological messages.