By Vasilis Papoutsis, Contributing Editor, LA
Cliffs of Freedom illustrates the epic battle by the Greek rebels to liberate their long suffering country and the sacrifices those heroes endured during the Independence War. It is a fictional story that takes place during the Greek Revolution of 1821 against the Ottoman Empire that had conquered Greece for 400 years. The main focus of this story is an improbable love affair between a beautiful and dynamic Greek woman Anna Christina (Tania Raymonde) and Turkish Colonel Tariq (Jan Uddin) who find themselves attracted to each other despite their very different social and ethnic backgrounds that want to keep them apart. The beginning of the movie draws inspiration from The Dance of Zalogo, the true story of 22 Greek women who refused to surrender to Turkish troops and instead decided to jump to their death of the cliff’s edge along with their children, while dancing and singing. Anna Kristina who is a young girl at the time of the sacrifice, is the sole survivor because of Tariq’s humanity that was instilled into to him by his Greek mentor/tutor Thanasi played by Academy Award Winner Christopher Plummer. Thanasis calming influence and wise advice transformed Tariq into a more humane ruler. Actor Billy Zane of Titanic and Tombstone fame plays the informant/tax collector on behalf of the occupying Ottomans, and he is pursuing Anna Katrina. His advances were not welcomed by her father Constantine, portrayed with power and strength by Costas Mandylor.
A gruesome family tragedy fuels Anna Katrina’s resolve to extract revenge and she becomes a fierce freedom fighter. The last act of the movie is based on another epic event, The Battle of Valtetsi on May 1821. Legendary Greek General Theodoros Kolokotronis (Dennis Boutsikaris) had determined that the city of Tripolis in central Peloponnesus was the prime objective of the Greek revolutionary army and in order to capture the city, he established armed camps around its perimeter. Valtetsi was one of those armed camps and the place of a fierce battle against the Turkish forces. It was the first decisive victory for the Greek army that inspired the belief that they could defeat the Ottomans. Meanwhile, despite their strong attraction, Anna Katrina and Tariq were not able to abandon their identities that had been so deeply engraved into them. Thus the impossibility of their relationship would have to be resolved regardless of consequences.
The movie is a labor of love for Marianne Metropoulos whose father’s family originates from the historic village of Valtetsi and who along with Casey Canon produced the movie. The film takes liberty with historical facts as many Hollywood productions usually do, but the movie’s message is one of love, sacrifice and the Greek peoples’ determination to maintain their culture and heritage. A determination so unshakeable that dictated that the only two choices are Freedom or Death, Ελευθερια η Θανατος! Costas Mandylor’s powerful performance as the proud Greek father said that “I am proud of the work I did in the film, I am honored to be a part of a movie that portrays the heroes of the 1821 revolution that fought to keep our culture and our nation alive.” The film was co-written and directed by Van Ling and features a supporting cast that had assembled an eclectic number of fine actors such as Kevin Corrigan, Lance Henriksen and two-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone. Costas Mandylor was impressed by the fact that “People who have seen the movie tell me that they were touched by the story. As an artist I am grateful for that.”
Photo Caption: Stavros (Kevin Corrigan) leads Christina (Tania Raymonde), Demetri (Jamie Christian-Ward) and Vangeli (Dino Kelly) to a rebel camp in “Cliffs of Freedom”.
©2018 Aegean Entertainment. All Rights Reserved. Photo by Lewis Jacobs.