The Migrant Cinema

Nikos Theodosiou

The Migrant Cinema

The Greeks in the early days of cinema

Six, purportedly disconnected stories comprise equal chapters of the new research work by Nikos Theodosiou, published by the Neaniko Plano publications under the title “The Migrant Cinema”.

The stories cover the first years after the invention of cinema – around the late 19th century and the early 20th century – and reveal unknown  aspects of the Greeks’ involvement in the invention process and the evolvement of the new art.

The narration begins with Georgiades and Tragidis, two Greek immigrants in London, who first, in the summer of 1894, brought from America to Europe the kinescopes created by Edison and triggered a chain reaction leading to the big leap in 1895: the invention of cinema.

A few months earlier, in the spring of 1894, an anonymous barber, immigrant in New Jersey, USA, stars in the first big film success of the time called “The barber-shop”  and becomes, without even realizing it, the first greek film actor!

In the next chapter we watch the great French pioneer director Georges Melies directing, in 1897, at least four films about the Graeco-turkish war, which takes place the same year – the first war ever filmed – while the fourth chapter attempts to register all the films that have been shown in Greece from 1896 to 1900, concomitantly revealing the already present, strange cinema practices of the businessmen in the turf.

Τhe fifth chapter focuses on a single person, Alexander Pantages (1876-1936), a poor young seaman from Andros who, through an adventurous path, that includes a vain gold quest in Alaska, he conquered, in the twenties, the peak of show-business in the United States and built cinema theatres that, even nowadays, are considered as architectural ornaments.

In the sixth chapter the research expands to similar to Pantazis cinema businessmen in Greece during the same period of time. And this way, he discloses a paradox: even though cinema is a western product, it came to Greece from the East!

All these chapters compose a uniform story, the story of the immigrants the moment they met the newborn cinema which was meant to migrate and conquer the world!

The scientific substantiation concerning the aforementioned facts is supported by several references to the sources, meaning private and public cinema archives from abroad and various other written sources.

The Migrant Cinema is a history book that can be read as a gripping novel.


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