As the whole of Greece gets ready to celebrate OXI Day, the anniversary of the day on the 28th October in 1940, when the Greeks said a firm 'NO' to the invading forces of Italy's leader, Benito Mussolini, Greek children, in Greece and in our communities abroad are preparing for the day's celebrations and learning about the events and the incredible heroism of the Greek nation as a whole during the dreadful years of the Second World War.
As I researched the material for this post a lot of previously unknown facts came to light about this wonderful film
- the director was none other than one of our Global Greeks - Gregg Tallas born Gregory Thalassinos in Constantinople in 1903 ...
- Many of the cast and crew were of Greek descent including Peter Boudoures, the producer, a Greek-American restaurateur in San Francisco who had been the regional director of Greek War Relief on the West Coast of the USA from 1940-1949
- The film's production cost was $38,000.
- It was shot without sound, using a 1920s era camera and minimal technical equipment.
- The music for the film was the first film score that Greece's national composer,Mikis Theodorakis ever wrote
- The Barefoot Battalion opened in New York on 28 May 1954 and Los Angeles on 11 June of the same year to great acclaim
- In 1955 it was awarded the Golden Laurel at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, thus becoming the first Greek film to win a prize at an international film festival
- It has been the subject of many university studies around the world, especially historical studies
Gregg Tallas was so enchanted and moved by this story that he decided to make it into a film, a film which was shot on location in Thessaloniki and Athens, even at the notorious black market site and the cast was made up of some of Greece's well known actors of the day, while 63 of the 66 children came from orphanages and reform institutions in Athens and Thessaloniki...
Photo Source: Tallas Family Archives
For those that would like to watch To Xypolito Tagma in it's entirety here is this brilliant film - a film which the reknowned director Vittorio de Sica is said to have praised so highly that he told Gregg Tallas that if The Barefoot Battalion had preceeded his own masterpiece 'Bicycle Thief', then he, Tallas, would have been de Sica...
- it's well worth while!
Shortly after this post was published, we were delighted to receive a comment in our visitors book from Rhett Tallas, the grandson of Gregg Tallas. He was kind enough to share the photos of Gregg Tallas from their family archives with us and all our readers. He also sent us this note from Gregg's brother Alex, who lives in Greece and is often invited to speak before screenings of this wonderful movie.
The movie's story line is simple, clear and concise and it retells a true story that took place in Thessaloniki ( Greece's second largest city located in Northern Greece).
In a nutshell: It recounts the story of more than 150 orphan teenagers whose orphanage (The Papafion) was commandeered by the German High Command of Norhern Greece and they were let out to starve. They showed great initiative, courage and a great will to survive - by stealing food from the Germans and Italians,but also sharing the food they could spare with the starving civilian population of the city of Thessaloniki - whilst also helping to smuggle American, British and Greek officers who had fallen behind as the front collapsed to Cairo to join the Allied forces there.
Thank you for the fedback Rhett and Alex. We are grateful to you and the entire Tallas Family for allowing us the use of the photos of Gregg Tallas from the family archives.
Other Sources: www.moviereviews.gr