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Winstar Home Video presents
Stella (1955)

"I hate having to leave you every morning like a thief. I'd like us to be different."
- Aleko (Alekos Alexandrakis)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: September 15, 2000

Stars: Melina Mercouri, George Foundas, Alekos Alexandrakis
Other Stars: Sofia Vembo, Voula Zoumboulaki
Director: Michael Cacoyannis

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:30m:32s
Release Date: July 04, 2000
UPC: 720917521428
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B BC-C- D+

DVD Review

Based on the play Stella with the Red Gloves by Iakovos Kambanellis, and noted as the first Greek film to gain international attention, Michael Cacoyannis' (Zorba The Greek) 1955 feature Stella follows the passions of a popular young bouzouki café performer who refuses her traditional role as a woman in Greek society.

We are introduced to the main character, Stella (Melina Mercouri), as a woman who enjoys the effect she has on men. Her opening scene displays a performance at the club where she works, as she prances about while singing a seductive song to the backing of a bouzouki ensemble. Her current boyfriend Aleko (Alekos Alexandrakis) is seen getting a warning from a young girl who objects to Stella's treatment of men—discarding them as she moves on to newer territories. Aleko will do anything for Stella, including buying her the piano she wants. When Aleko tries to get Stella to commit to him, she instead sets her sights on a soccer star name Milto (George Foundas—Never On Sunday, Zorba The Greek), spurning her lover's affections, and driving him to illness with tragic consequences.

As her heated relationship with Milto progresses, Stella eventually falls in love, but when faced with the ultimatum of a marriage proposal, she must decide between her love for Milto, the freedom she loves so much and the imprisonment she fears in marriage. Her decision ultimately seals the fate of both herself and her new lover, as the consequences of love, pride and freedom fall into place.

The film itself is frequented by high energy musical pieces, fueled by the frantic bouzouki music (written by Manos Hatzidakis) that provides much of the soundtrack. Shot in and around Athens, the Greek culture is infused in the film. It won a Golden Globe® for Best Foreign Picture in 1956.

This was Mercouri's (Never On Sunday) first feature film in an emotionally charged role written expressly for her. Following Oscar® and BAFTA nominations and the Cannes prize for Best Actress for her role in Pote tin Kyriaki (1960), Mercouri would go on to become the Greek Minister of Culture responsible for the return of artifacts to her homeland. Here we have her first screen appearance, that featured realistic and passionate love scenes that would have been highly controversial for their time.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Stella is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The source print varies in quality throughout the film, but for the most part is littered with specs and scratches. While the gray scale is well represented most of the time, the contrast is also often harsh, and black level varies from scene to scene. There is some frame damage evident in several places as well. Encoding seems fairly decent, with only minor artifacting present here and there. Despite the near constant barrage of image defects, the film still plays well, though the problems do show the age of the film.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Like the video, the audio is in fairly rough shape. There is constant hiss present and crackles and pops are frequent. There is little distortion though, to speak of. The overall effect of the soundtrack combined with the picture does let the viewer know this film is 45 years old.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Several text screens with the actors' and director's filmographies and awards listings, a page of DVD production credits and a web link are the only extras.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

An interesting look a Greek culture, and the tradition role and morality expected of women. The performance is very high energy, with an edge for the dark side of life. Upbeat in places, the story ultimately plays as a tragedy. Recommended only for those who can appreciate foreign film.


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