Stella, a 1955 Greek film featuring Melina Mercouri, is a retelling of Carmen, and is considered by many to be an important title in Greek cinema. The film was directed by the Greek-Cypriot Michael Cacoyannis and written by Cacoyannis and Iakovos Kabanellis. The music was composed by Manos Hadjidakis and Vassilis Tsitsanis.
Stella was originally intended to be a stage play with the title Stella with the Red Gloves, but it was never staged. It has been claimed that this story was the perfect vehicle for the thirty-five-year-old Mercouri's film debut. Indeed, it was the hit that Melina Mercouri needed. The film sparked great controversy, and although it was initially rejected by Greek critics, it is now considered one of the five greatest Greek films.
At the Cannes Film Festival, where the film was screened, Melina met Jules Dassin, her future husband, mentor, and director. He helped her to secure major roles in such films as Topkapi, Never on Sunday, Phaedra, and 10:30 Summer Night, which have become major international successes.
Spoiler warning: Plot or ending details follow.
Stella, the main character, is a rembetika singer. Although she is in love with Miltos, a soccer player, she repeatedly rejects his marriage proposals. When Miltos finally forces her to accept the idea of marriage, Stella does not appear in church, despite Miltos repeatedly warning her that he will kill her if she doesn't marry him. Miltos kills her with a dagger at end of the film.
It has been said that the story of Stella's forced marriage symbolises the forces that are constantly trying to impose their will on Greece.
- Stella at the Internet Movie Database
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Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire