The Lovers from Axos

The Norns' Threads Lightning and Lovers Love without Age

The Norns' Threads

By Laetitia Mikles (POSITIF Magazin) 3 November 2007

I found myself smiling throughout the first half of the film. Then I suddenly had tears in my ears. It is a very moving film. The two lovers are beautiful people - the man has style and intensity, the woman is gentle and graceful. The director has a true gift for capturing the beauty in the things of daily life and in its fleeting moments. The couple's relationship is portrayed in all its tenderness and fragility. One of the film's essential and fascinating features is its portrayal of weaving... the threads that belong to the weaver's craft. Threads... that can be seen at first as the sensual and emotional bonds that tie the lovers; then as the yarns in a story that is being unravelled; then ultimately as the strands of life, of a long and stable life that can tear or break at any moment. The threads of the Fates... Especially compelling is the voice-over spoken by the director who, having sought refuge behind his desk from the winter and cold raging outside, warms himself with his reminiscences of these two senescent lovers. Effective scenes like the arrival of the tourists or the visiting election candidates give us an idea of life in the village: an isolated village that is only "visited" in a highly organised, artificial manner. There is something merciless about the shots of the visiting tourists, as if they were admonishing the spectator: "If you don't take the time to look at things, to become acquainted with the people here, then you will fail to notice such unique and moving bonds of love." But, thanks to the camera, to the director's patience, sensitivity and sincere interest in people, we spectators are given a glimpse of this special love story and a chance to smile and weep with these two lovers in the autumn of their years.

Lightning and Lovers

INDEPENDENCE DAYS 8 March 2008 by Lefteris Adamidis

In making "The Lovers of Axos", which was shown at the 10th Thessalonica Documentary Film Festival, director Nicos Ligouris has almost managed to create his own genre of film. In 2004 Ligouris won first prize at the same festival with his film "Summer Lightning". Ligouris lives in Germany but apparently his head and heart are in Greece - or to be more precise - in Crete, which provided the backdrop for both of his documentary films. Some of you may be able to recall his "austere" theoretical writings in the magazine "Synchronos Kinimatographos" or in his third (feature) film "Heart of Stone", which was shown in the 1990s at the Athens Festival and shed a tender light on the relationship between a homeless young person and an older, paralysed woman. But now, with both of his documentary films Ligouris has inaugurated a completely different chapter: "Summer Lightning" and "The Lovers from Axos" are an inversion of his theoretical writings, a return to the simplicity of experience. This becomes immediately clear during the opening credits of both documentaries: simple, black text against a white background. Both films were shot on digital, did without complicated lighting and underwent hardly any post-production processing. "The Lovers of Axos" has an almost "confessional" voice-over in the form of a personal diary that is completely removed from any claim of objectivity. The settings for both films - two villages on Crete - form the most truthful picture of rural life in contemporary Greece that I have seen until now: hotel rooms fitted out with Swedish furniture, cafe chairs made from plastic or bamboo, aluminium wherever you look and souvenir shops. In "Summer Lightning", the audience participates in the life of a boarding house proprietor over the period of four decades. In his spare time the proprietor takes daily photographs of the same horizon of sea and sky, hoping to capture an image of summer lightning, a rare meteorological phenomenon that appears as flashes of light in clear, dry skies. In "The Lovers of Axos", Ligouris portrays the lives of an elderly couple who still love each other - Jorgos and Maria, both 70 years old - condensed in the course of a single day. Both "Summer Lightning" and "The Lovers of Axos" provide two compelling visions of an invisible and fascinating world that exists along side of ours but appears to revolve at a different speed to ours. It is a world whose essence is concealed beneath the strata of everyday life. It is difficult to perceive that world - never mind experience it. It requires the art of patience... the same patience that Maria displays in threading her loom, that the proprietor evinces while waiting for summer lightning or even for a moment of "rayon vert" at sundown.

Love without Age

KATHIMERINI 13 March 2008 by Maria Katsounaki

"The Lovers of Axos" is about two elderly people whose love for one another is pure and simple yet seems plucked from a novel. The love that cements 69-year-old Maria and the 73-year-old Jorgos, high up in the mountain village of Axos, appears to be both eternal and unshakeable. Even when tourism and EU subsidies change everything around them, they still sleep tightly wrapped around each other. Whether it is out of fear, desperation or something else; if anything should happen to one during the night, the other will become aware of it. However, their quiet, gentle love is threatened by mortality as Jorgos is ill and could die at any moment. Jorgos, still a handsome man, observes his wife Maria as she works at her loom. He believes she is the most beautiful woman in the world. He tells the camera: "We fell in love with each other like two children". And when the director Nicos Ligouris asks him what he feels when he gazes upon Maria, and whether he still finds her good-looking, he says: "She's just as beautiful as ever. Just like when she I saw her in a vegetable plot when she was 14 years old, wearing a red dress. The love from that time still exists and it will not pass." The lives of the couple are filled with visits to the doctor, fear and worries, but they are also marked by a pragmatic form of relationship that is also lyrical and gracious. Ligouris has composed a silent hymn to human relationships, to endearment, to amicability and to communication which, with age, becomes so unified and "harmonious" that any thoughts of exploiting or possessing the other partner become remote. The daily routine of living together becomes the bedrock of their rich lives. Ligouris' film possesses the sensitivity of an alert observer and the drive of a gifted narrator.