From a technical point of view, this 35mm documentary is of high classic quality, which is somewhat of an understatement. And the theme is merely oil, bread and wine! It is indeed a film that appeals to a wide audience and deserves a cinema showing to fully appreciate the Dolby stereo surround sound and big screen effects. But in times of speedy, nervous talking and restless television zapping, the film is also challenging to watch. It advances slowly in narrative circles from oil to wine to bread, from Italy to Greece to Turkey avoiding the usual dramaturgical rules. It takes its time describing the landscapes and the people who work there. It actually insists on being slow which is understandable and logical when the main theme is ’slow food’. It has a poetic commentary and there are only a few direct statements in front of the camera. It invites the spectator on a journey filled with sunshine and freshness. A journey in geography, climate, history and culture.
Consequently Mediterranean Stories has an underlying melancholic tone, because the film documents what used to be and what still remains, yet in most of the places where olive, wine and bread are cultivated, the past tense is more appropriate than the present. Since fast food and industrial production are also the agenda for today’s Mediterranean culture, we are seeing something that is disappearing. The director regrets this fact, but is gentle in his criticism of modern times and its production methods. Nothing else. No anger, only resignation.
At the end of the film wonderful faces look directly into the camera and present themselves by name and place. They are children, adolescents and grown-ups from the three countries represented in the film, and they are citizens in a region of Europe with an ancient history that indeed is multicultural and brimming with conflicts. Still Greeks, Turks and Italians enjoy the same pleasures of oil, wine and bread under the same sun. The people behind the faces have taken part in a film that celebrates a culture rather than questions whether it can survive the many threats. Include all us from the North in the celebration as we rush down to a desirable climate that gives us pleasure.