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Free For All Fridays • Rembetiko

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… they had the beauty, pain, suffering, and the gift to convey and express this hell through music.

Lovely disciples of kilScene, I have a gift for you. What is this gift? Behold, I reach into my bag o’ goodies and pull out Rembetiko. You’re welcome. Rembetiko is a Greek film directed by Kostas Ferris, who also co-wrote the screenplay with the film’s leading actress, Sotiria Leonardou, who portrayed the role of Marika. The movie tells the story about the aforementioned Marika, whose family, a group of Rembetes (Greek blues musicians and singers) that immigrated to Greece from Smyrna in 1922 after Turks destroyed the city. Her experiences, which become intertwined with other key Rembetes that she performs with, help you to navigate the very soul of this music known as rembetika.


It’s in the whispers creeping from the instruments

I have seen quite a few foreign films over the years; however, NONE of those previous films made me feel as though I experienced it. What I dig about Rembetiko is that it is based on the lives of actual people. In addition, you learn from watching this movie as well. It’s not surprising, but so little was, and is still, known about this music, the events in the lives of these musicians and singers; and, more importantly what was happening in Greece during these years. There were people being forced from their homes, families separated, men forced to fight in a war that has already resulted in the loss of too many lives. However, they had the beauty, pain, suffering, and the gift to convey and express this hell through music. OH, the music!!!

Never have I heard such haunting, dark, enchanting, seductive music in a film in my entire life. That is saying something, especially since I have seen hundreds of movies over the course of my life thus far (that will turn into thousands before I die). Music by itself is universal. Those in direct contribution to music all put themselves into what they produce to a degree. However, when you are watching this film, because it is a musical, in addition to a history lesson (for both Greeks and non-Greeks alike), you don’t just hear songs performed throughout….you are there, in the shit, with everyone. Their horror becomes yours. It’s in the whispers creeping from the instruments; they set the atmosphere for what’s to come; then, the singer opens his/her mouth with the lyrics that sear your soul raw. The pain of a people begins to fill you until there is no choice and it flows down your face, as it did to mine.


I have never heard… such an exquisite pain in all my life.

Rembetiko is an amazing film. Due to the obvious fact that this movie is entirely in Greek, there are subtitles. So if you think that your soul has been touched from the music you hear alone, it is decimated when you read the song lyrics as they are being sung. I have never heard, nor read, such an exquisite pain in all my life. What a dark beauty this music is; which is precisely why it is likened to Blues music. I refuse to suggest to you that you view this film. It demands to be seen. I feel you will be a more enlightened individual afterwards. It is a true crime against humanity that so few know about the music, the history, and the fucking struggle that went into keeping this relatively unknown blood diamond of culture alive. I say go now. Unplug yourself from the fucking Matrix of conventional society, and welcome yourself to the pain-soaked oasis of the real people. You’ll thank me, and so will the deceased for your respect.

To purchase this gem of a film, you can hook yourselves up right here.

Special kilScene Contributor

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