Today, September 2, the great Manos Katrakis dies

Today, September 2, the great Manos Katrakis dies
Today, September 2, the great Manos Katrakis dies

In the iconic “Journey to Kythira” by Theodoros Angelopoulos there is a shocking scene. After the end of the civil war, the Rightist (Dionysis Papagiannopoulos) meets the Leftist (Manos Katrakis) in the middle of the road, in their village. Both exhausted, they seem to reconcile. Although in this particular scene the Manos Katrakis he doesn’t speak at all, the “language of the body” is what “says” much more than what he would say himself. Anyway, what Katrakis represented in that scene, he had also experienced in his real life. He experienced poverty firsthand, long before playing the role of the poor in theater or cinema. He experienced the political persecutions in the Xeronisia, before transferring all these sufferings to the theater. Manos Katrakis, who passed away one day like todayhe lived his roles before he played them.

A theater person is born in the “darkness”

In August 1909, the fifth child of merchant Charalambos Katrakis and his wife Irene was born in Chania, Crete. Before turning 10, little Manos and his family move to Athens. Quickly, he discovers that his great love is the theater. Before he even turned 18, he made his debut in theater with the troupe “The Young People” in the play “For her love”. His rare talent makes him stand out. He was spotted by the director Kostas Leloudas and the following year, in 1928, he starred in the first silent film: “The Banner of the 21st Century”. Before the Second World War even started, he made great collaborations such as with the Troupe of Mitsos Myrat and Marika Kotopoulis, was hired by the then newly founded National Theater and seemed to be firmly on his feet.

And then everything turns upside down. The Greco-Italian war finds Katrakis at the front. The German invasion and the collapse of the front brings him back to Athens, joining the ranks of the EAM. In the deadly winter of 1941, Katrakis is forced to sell even his suits to bring money to his family. To secure a plate of food.

“Things were very difficult. The salary of the National Theater was enough for a plate of food. Where to feed, mother, sister, pregnant woman. My wife finally miscarried at eight months, she had twins. We started selling what we had. Those are over too. Now;…

I had some suits because I was a bit of a freak and I went and sold them myself, since the dealers took whatever they wanted. On Athinas Street, outside the power station, was the bazaar at that time for buying and selling. So I went and held the suit in my hands and waited for the customer to come and buy it. You see, in thrift stores, they used to buy everything I had for half price. Once it was time to sell a suit that I loved very much. It was my best. It had been sewn for me by a tailor named Zofakis who had come from Paris and Minotis was also sewn on him. So I go to Athenas Street and stand and wait. Sometimes someone approaches me at a good time and says to me:

– Mr. Katraki, are you selling it? – I sell it. Don’t you see it? For me to be here and to keep it, he says that I am selling it. – Do you want to come with me?…He picks me up and takes me to a club in Omonia. I had no dealings with clubs. I say what are we going to do at the club? – is someone who will buy your suit. Needless to say we went, found the man, he didn’t want such a suit because it was too thin, he asked me if I had any other Scottish. I used to have. He told me to take it to him the next day. I went the other day and he took the suit”, said Manos Katrakis himself in his biography (Kaktos publications, author Alexis Komninos).

Persecution, exile but also recognition

The fact that Katrakis joined and fought through the lines of the EAM movement was something that the civil (and post-civil) state never forgave him. As early as 1942, there was file 20822 in the Security which was enriched with information against Katrakis until the junta of colonels fell in 1974!

In 1947, the time of exile and persecution had come. Karia, Makronissos, Ai Stratis, for seven whole years. In the biography of the great actor there is a shocking dialogue with his mother, from those difficult years of exile and persecution.

– What is Manoli?
– Do you want me to come home, mother?
– How will you come?
– Well… I’ll sign and come
– Will you sign?
– Statement
– Inda statement?
– That I am not who I am…
– And you’re not?
– I am
– Don’t sign, horn, don’t sign…

Manos Katrakis returned to Athens in 1952. He works occasionally on the radio while also managing to get some small roles in the theater. Little by little it starts to gain the lost ground again. In 1972 he returned to the National Theater and starred in Othello and Don Quixote, and in Epidaurus in Oedipus the Tyrant (1973) and Prometheus Desmotis (1974). To cinema, really dominates, with his iconic figure, but his participation in “The Dream Apartment” in 1961 and in “Elektra” by Michalis Kakogiannis the following year will always stand out. In “Journey to Kythira”, in 1984, Katrakis plays seriously ill, stricken with lung cancer. A few days after the completion of filming, he breathed his last.

The article is in Greek

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