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The Girl in Black: the critical reception

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Athens in the 1950's
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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Athens in those days was lovely. Athens was relatively small still. I think certainly under 2 million. Oh yes, it must have been well under 2 million, and the whole of Greece had 8 million. A quarter of the population lived in Athens and Piraeus together. But, for me it was, it had a wonderful atmosphere. In the evenings we used to go and have some- sit outside one of the little restaurants and have our drinks and then a man would come by with a little basket with freshly gathered shrimps and mussels and cockles and stuff like that, and the restaurant supplied a plate and he put the stuff on the plate, and he had lemons with him, which he squeezed on the stuff. You know, we paid him a few cents. It was very, very cheap. You could have a very substantial meal, with wine, for under a pound, certainly. Well under a pound. But on the other hand, the Greek technicians, their salary was 500 drachmas a week, which is £6, £6 a week. All the technicians work for £6 a week. And I got 3,000, which is six times that amount. Yes, I got £40 which was the- I set it at that because that was the union minimum, which nobody would work for in England.

Born in Germany, cinematographer Walter Lassally (1926-2017) was best known for his Oscar-winning work on 'Zorba the Greek'. He was greatly respected in the film industry for his ability to take the best of his work in one area and apply it to another, from mainstream to international art films to documentary. He was associated with the Free Cinema movement in the 1950s, and the British New Wave in the early 1960s. In 1987 he published his autobiography called 'Itinerant Cameraman'.

Listeners: Peter Bowen

Peter Bowen is a Canadian who came to Europe to study and never got round to heading back home. He did his undergraduate work at Carleton University (in Biology) in Ottawa, and then did graduate work at the University of Western Ontario (in Zoology). After completing his doctorate at Oxford (in the Department of Zoology), followed with a year of postdoc at the University of London, he moved to the University's newly-established Audio-Visual Centre (under the direction of Michael Clarke) where he spent four years in production (of primarily science programs) and began to teach film. In 1974 Bowden became Director of the new Audio-Visual Centre at the University of Warwick, which was then in the process of introducing film studies into the curriculum and where his interest in the academic study of film was promoted and encouraged by scholars such as Victor Perkins, Robin Wood, and Richard Dyer. In 1983, his partner and he moved to Greece, and the following year he began to teach for the University of Maryland (European Division), for which he has taught (and continues to teach) biology and film courses in Crete, Bosnia, and the Middle East.

Duration: 1 minute, 22 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008