Pantelis Voulgaris, a highly respected director in present day Greek cinema, scripts a modern version of a Greek tragedy with his romantic epic “Mikra Anglia” [Eng. Title: Little England].
Set from 1930 onwards – not exactly contemporary, but modern all the same – it retells a love affair between a girl and a sailor in a Greek island nicknamed ‘Little England’, and follows their trials and fortunes amidst momentous changes taking place around them and in the wider world.
Spyros (Andreas Constantinou) is second mate in a merchant ship, passionate about the sea, and ambitious enough to dream of becoming a captain one day. After the sea, the one that he apparently hold dear is twenty year old Orsa (Pinelopi Tsilika), eldest daughter of an equally ambitious matriarch named Mina (Aneza Papadopoulou).
During one of Spyros’ voyages, when his uncle (Christos Kalavrouzos) asks Mina for the hand of her daughter in marriage to his nephew, she rejects the offer, telling him that she’d already accepted an offer from Nikos (Maximos Moumouris), a ship captain. Despite her knowledge of the couple’s feelings for each other, Mina had, in her perceived wisdom, decided to break the pairing so that her daughter might not have to suffer his potential philandering in future, like her own sailor-husband who’d been running a parallel family in Argentina all these years.
An anguished Orsa nevertheless resigns to her fate and follows her mother’s wishes. Returning from hospital after delivering her first child, Orsa is shocked to discover that Spyros, now a captain in his own right, had asked for the hand of her sister Moscha (Sofia Kokkali) and is soon to get married. The two couples will end up living under the same roof, and an unhappy Orsa, often alone during Nikos’ frequent trips, will have to put up with the nightly sounds of lovemaking from upstairs between Spyros and Moscha. And using her physical contact with Moscha, who is completely unaware of her husband’s earlier love affair, Orsa will seek intimacy through proxy, with the person she’d been denied through marriage…
The film follows their fate well past Moscha’s discovery of Orsa’s affair and the second world war, and the way the two sisters finally reconcile with each other. It is a moving drama made on an epic scale, also touching on topics that Voulgaris had already delved into on an earlier occasion (Nyfes, 2004). The cinematography is breathtaking and the art direction captures all the relevant details from the period. At two and a half hours, the film carries an epic dimension and interestingly, instead of adopting an operatic tone, Voulgaris concerns himself with the way in which the protagonists deal with the aftermath rather than focusing that much on the tragedy itself. The end result is an absorbing and passionate romantic drama with a non-operatic narrative, that is also straightforward to follow. Highly Recommended Viewing..!
The Nudity: Sofia Kokkali and Pinelopi Tsilika
Two brief scenes feature topless nudity – the first is when Orsa massages Moscha after she takes a dip in cold sea waters. The second instance happens towards the end of the film, when Orsa recounts a secret rendezvous with Spyros, post their marriage.