Watch Never on Sunday
- 1 hr 31 min
Never on Sunday is a Greek black-and-white comedy-drama film from 1960. The movie was written, produced and directed by Jules Dassin and starred his future wife Melina Mercouri, who won the Best Actress award at Cannes for her performance. The movie is widely regarded as a classic, helped introduce Greek cinema to the rest of the world and made Greek music popular internationally. The movie is set in the port of Piraeus, a suburb of Athens, and revolves around Ilya (Melina Mercouri), a carefree and optimistic prostitute who spends her days singing, dancing, and entertaining her clients. Homer Thrace (Jules Dassin), a buttoned-up American intellectual, arrives in Piraeus on a cultural mission to the Greece of his Classical studies. When he meets Ilya, he is fascinated by her joie de vivre and finds in her an embodiment of ancient Greece, and increasingly charmed by the bawdy life of the port. He falls in love with her and decides to stay in Piraeus for a while to try and "educate" her and "civilize" her ideas about life, values, and the world in general. Dassin uses their interactions and conversations to explore a range of philosophical topics, from the role of culture in human life to the meaning of freedom, love, and happiness. The most prominent idea in the film is the contrast between the simple and joyful life of Ilya and her fellow prostitutes to the dreary and unfulfilled life of Homer, who lives in a hotel, eats alone, and goes to a job each day that he seems to hate. For Ilya, every day is a new adventure and an opportunity to find laughter, companionship, and pleasure. She finds joy in everything, from a sip of coffee in the morning to watching the sunset with her friends in the evening. Homer, on the other hand, is obsessed with ancient Greece and its values, but in his obsession, he loses sight of the beauty and complexity of modern life. Themes of the movie include the tension between the carefree and hedonistic lifestyle of the prostitutes and the buttoned-up, conventional attitude of their clients, and the cyclical nature of life. The theme of the prostitute with a heart of gold runs rampant throughout the movie. Mercouri's performance, which included several musical numbers, is a highlight of the film. Her infectious charm, vitality and humor imbue the character with a genuine warmth and depth that make her seem like a real person rather than a caricature. Her singing voice is captivating, and her performances of traditional and popular Greek songs make up the soundtrack of the film. Dassin's direction is deft, and the film is visually beautiful, with sweeping shots of Piraeus, the sea, and the city of Athens. Despite its comedic elements, the film delves into serious and existentialist themes. The characters discuss the meaning of life, and the film's critique of American cultural imperialism and its message about the importance of embracing life's pleasures have lost none of their relevance in the decades since the movie was first released. In conclusion, Never on Sunday is a delightful and thought-provoking film that combines humor, music, and deep philosophical themes in a way that is rarely seen in movies. Its depiction of a sunny, joyful, colorful and convivial Athens of the early sixties is unforgettable, and its message about the importance of living life to the fullest and with simplicity resonates with audiences even today. The film's iconic ending has Homer returning to America, and Ilya not wanting to leave her home in Greece despite the love of her life leaving.