The Red Lanterns (Ta Kokkina Fanaria)

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THE RED LANTERNS is a 1963 drama that was produced in Greece, directed by Vassili Georgiades and starring, Jenny Karezi, George Foondas and Dimitri Papamichael. It tells the story of five girls who make a good living in a brothel, until that is the Greek authorities decide to make prostitution illegal. The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for best international film and was considered an outspoken and bold movie at the time of its release. With the central characters giving realistic portrayals of young girls affected by the change of the law in their country. The movie is a soulful and at times heartrending production and one that is well worth seeking out on DVD to sample. The musical score by composer Stavros Xarchakos has to it a sound, style that could very easily be mistaken for the work of Mikis Theodorakis or Manos Hajidakis.

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Even the songs have an aura and charm to them that shouts Theodorakis/Hajidakis. It has a beautiful central theme that also acts as its main title music which opens the album, lilting and melancholy sounding strings support a fragile and romantic piano solo (think ALIKI). Also being a Greek score there are bouzoukis’ present within the opening music but these are background rather than main stage, with the strings and piano establishing the theme until midway through a bouzouki solo is introduced but this too is subdued and melodic and in many ways reminded me of Theodorakis in-particular TO YALSTO PEDI from Z. The second track IN LUNA PARK is a little more up tempo with the composer employing, woodwinds, vibes, bouzouki and trumpet solo that is enhanced by strings and horn. Track number three, FALLING is an entertaining song which sounds traditional Greek, the composer’s arrangement being vibrant and certainly filled with a melodious air. Track four, TAXIMI is a little more tense, again bouzouki is utilised but is bolstered and punctuated by a mournful sounding violin solo, giving the piece a tuneful but at the same tome a slightly edgy and apprehensive sound. The remainder of the score is filled to overflowing with vibrant and robust themes and scattered throughout there are songs which indeed are entertaining even if you do not speak Greek, This is a wonderfully wistful and charm filled work that will not be out of place in any film music collection, my advice go buy it today. Available on Spotify and I Tunes, with the compact disc available now from Disques Cinemusique.

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