MEDOUSA: George Lazopoulos Talks His Horror-Fantasy
A middle-aged but still very beautiful, dark-haired woman sits before a mirror admiring her reflection as she puts on the finishing touches of makeup. Through the mirror's view we see a young boy's eyes piercing the reflection of the woman.
Noticing his glance, she playfully scolds the child, stating that he knows better than to watch her while she is applying her makeup. The child contests that he isn't looking at her but at her reflection, a disparity the woman rejects. For her, the act of applying makeup is a literal transformation -- a practice her son, as we learn, is visibly irritated by.
Their conversation could be read literally, a simple anecdote that establishes their mother-son relationship. Upon further consideration, it is no coincidence that George Lazopoulos' 1998 horror-fantasy, Medousa, would open in such a manner, for this scene sets up the complex world in which the entire film will unfold its psychoanalytical, modern spin on the age-old Medusa myth. The divide between men and women, beauty and ugliness, dream and reality, knowledge and ignorance, and strength and weakness are among the dichotomies that Lazopoulos fills his confident, nuanced debut (and, to this day, sole) feature film. Medousa is a modern twist on the titular myth that blends its epic roots with a healthy dose of gothic horror and neo-noir to create a surreal and singular experience.
Click though the gallery below to read more about George Lazopoulos and Medousa.
"I grew up in a middle class family and I was kind of destined to go to the University. Because of my family background, that wasn't really a choice. It just happened out of its own, so to speak. I was expected to have a career," Lazopoulos responds to questions of his upbringing. He states that as a child he didn't have artistic ambitions, he just followed the path he believed was expected of him. At the same time, he was struggling to come to terms with his political identity. So Lazopoulos picked up Economics, believing that it would be applicable to his developing worldview:
"I was kind of a Marxist at the time, so [studying Economics] was related to that. I guess you can say I wasn't really a Marxist but more of an Anarchist; I studied Marx in order to reject him and not because I agreed with what he said. Looking back, I wasn't really a Marxist -- and if I am to speak right now, I wasn't really an Anarchist, but that is what I thought at the time."
However, it wasn't in Marx, economics, or anarchist literature that Lazopoulos would find his great inspiration, but a few years before in the back of a movie theater. A screening of Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars would have a profound effect on him, but not for most apparent reasons. Despite the clear leftist political allegories concealed within many Spaghetti Westerns -- albeit more dulled in Leone's own films compared to his contemporaries -- Lazopoulos was completely oblivious to their political nature. In fact, he was, at first, embarrassed to admit he liked the movie that he saw as pure entertainment. A Fistful of Dollars was a 'genre' film, it wasn't the kind of films that intellectuals were to enjoy; as he explains:
"Maybe it is a bit difficult to understand Greece at that time but there were things just for entertainment -- like A Fistful of Dollars -- and there were the so-called serious films or serious books. There was a very clear dividing line between those two. I was 16 years old, I thought I should be reading Dostoevsky or seeing a film by Bertolucci or something; that was the trend and that is what I thought I was supposed to do. So when I saw A Fistful of Dollars and I liked it -- and I liked it so much that I saw it a second and a third time -- it was a conflict inside me. I shouldn't really like it, I thought. I couldn't accept that I really liked it, but I slowly came to terms with it."
Cinema stuck with Lazopoulos, and when economics, and then psychology, failed him, he enrolled in film school. "I was drawn to existentialism. People like Albert Camus, Dostoevsky, of course. When I started getting interested in cinema it was films like Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari that were much more real to me than Marxism or anarchy."