With Heart and Soul @ Montreal Greek Film Festival

This film takes place amidst the Greek Civil War, which was fought between the Greek government army backed by the United Kingdom with the United States versus the military branch of the Greek Communist Party supported by Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania and the Soviet Union. The highly polarized struggle between the leftists and the rightists was the result of the resistance movement that was born from the German-Italian occupation that took place in World War II.  The  atrocities of this war left Greece with a very strong vehemence for any type of anti-communist security establishment in government.

With Heart and Soul is in 1949 when the harrowing conflict of the civil war is about to end. While much of the film focuses on the day to day battles and strategies, the emotional bonds between main characters Anestis (17) and Vlassis (14) are very apparent. Expected to protect one another by their mother Zaharoula, who is held captive in a military camp, the two young brothers find themselves in opposing enemy camps. The oldest brother’s crush on a teenage girl from the opposing enemy lines manages to hold one’s attention throughout the film.

It was a graphic watch as the violent battles played out.  The battles were set in the mountain ranges of Western Macedonia.  By such a portrayal, one is also reminded of the reality of war and gives viewers a close up look into such circumstances along with depicting the devastating consequences it can bring to individuals and their loved ones.  As Zaharoula so poignantly narrates in the backdrop of this film of the waste of beauty which war creates.

The acting and directing was good and overall and this film makes the effort of helping us remember and hopefully avoid such acts of violence in the future. Many people involved in wars have a false misconception of there being a winner and a loser, when the reality of the matter is that everyone involved loses one way or another. A memorable quote from the film says it all ”Think how long does evil last? How long for miracles?”

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