Dhafnis ke Chloi (1931)

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Legendary Greek filmmaker Orestis Laskos directed and adapted this delightful pastoral love story from the play by Longos. Set in ancient times on the isle of Lesbos, the film begins as a shepherd finds an orphaned boy suckling milk from a goat. The shepherd adopts the young lad, naming him Daphnes. At the same time, an orphaned girl is taken in by a different shepherd and named Chloe. The two children grow up together as the years pass, and Daphnes (Apollon Marsias) and Chloe (Lucy Matli) frolic innocently in the woods until the first stirrings of adolescent yearning turn their games into something more serious. Daphnes is initiated into the secrets of love by an older woman named Lickena (Korina Astylos), who has more than a passing interest in the young man. He then puts his newfound knowledge to use with Chloe, and they become lifelong mates. The truth of their lineage has been revealed by this time -- he is the son of a landowner and she is the daughter of a nobleman --clearing the way for their marriage. Film censorship was not much of an issue in Greece at the time, but Chloe's nude bathing scene was the subject of no small controversy, although it was eventually agreed that the nature of the film was so artistically pure and lyrically romantic that the scene was not generally objectionable or exploitative. The same themes, of course, were heavily exploited in the 1960s and '70s, culminating in Randal Kleiser's controversial 1980 remake of The Blue Lagoon and its many imitators, but Laskos's treatment is both respectful and sweet. Originally silent, sound was added to the film for a 1940s re-release. Mika Zacharopoulou directed a modern version of the story in the dreamlike Dhafnis ke Chloi '66 (1966), and Laskos remade his own classic original as Dhafnis ke Chloi - I Mikri Eraste in 1969.