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Greek movie: Christmas Tango

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Christmas is quickly approaching, which calls for Christmas movie recommendations! Here we’re presenting you a Greek drama film, Christmas Tango (in Greek: Το Τανγκό των Χριστουγέννων), which was directed by Nikos Koutelidakis and based on a novel by Yannis Xanthoulis. It is a story about love, loss and vulnerability.

The historical background
The story takes place at a military camp in Evros during the Greek military junta of 1967–1974, also known as the Regime of the Colonels. Evros is the northernmost regional unit of Greece and borders Turkey to the east, across the river Evros, and Bulgaria to the north and northwest. As a result, this area it’s not only well known for its natural beauty and unforgiving weather conditions, but also for the strong presence of Greek military units there.

map

 

The story
An unexpected meeting on Christmas Day, between the sixty-five-year-old Lazaros Lazarou, who served at the army in Evros as a soldier back in the day, and a young man, brings back memories from 1970 when a Christmas celebration became the intersection of four lives: an introverted soldier; a harsh lieutenant; a strict and very conservative colonel; and the colonel’s wife.

Flashback to many years earlier: Stefanos Karamanidis, is a lieutenant at the military base in Evros and in love with Zoe, the wife of the colonel. He keeps on seeing her at social gatherings that are organised for the little community that has been created around the military base but does not have the courage to talk to her or ask her to dance. Even worse, he does not know how to dance at all.

Christmas is approaching and the preparations for the big celebration are in progress. To make sure that everything is in place for the big day, the colonel, Manolis Loggos, forbids soldiers from taking time off to visit their families. At the same time, he spreads the news that he and his family will probably move to another location close to Athens and so their days in Evros are quickly coming to an end.

Stefanos is devastated by these news as he is afraid that he’ll never see Zoe again. Zoe, on the other hand, leads a fairly restricted and solitary life, feeling trapped in a marriage with a man significantly older than her. This is until she discovers that she has a secret admirer in the barracks who sends her a vinyl with tango music.

… the plot unravels
This is no one else but Stefanos, who forces one of his soldiers, Lazaros Lazarou, to teach him how to dance the tango for the Christmas party so that he can get close to Zoe and reveal his true feelings to her.

Lazaros is a simple soldier who, however, was responsible for the entertainment planned for the Christmas celebrations and is shocked by the lieutenant’s request. Stefanos asks him to sneak into his office for several nights to teach him how to dance.
And this is what he does…

Click here to watch a short abstract from the movie to practice your listening skills.
In this trailer you will see the actual tango dance, after all the practicing. 😊

While listening, you can read the Greek dialogue below and/or English translation.

Στρατιωτικός: Συνταγματάρχη, θέλω να σας ανακοινώσω κάτι ευχάριστο.

Στέφανος: Θα ήταν τιμή μου αν χορεύατε μαζί μου αυτό το τανγκό.

Μανώλης (συνταγματάρχης): Σας ευχαριστώ πάρα πολύ.

Ζωή: Πώς σε λένε;

Στέφανος: Υπολοχαγός Στέφανος Καραμανίδης.

Ζωή: Με λένε Ζωή.

Στέφανος: Το ξέρω. Εγώ σας έστειλα το δίσκο με το τανγκό. Δεν είχα το θάρρος να γράψω το όνομα μου.

Ζωή: Εσείς λοιπόν.

Στέφανος: Συγχωρέσατε μου το θάρρος μου. Σας παρακαλώ.

Ζωή: Μην παρακαλάτε. Στον στρατό δεν πρέπει να παρακαλάς, έτσι δεν είναι;

Στέφανος: Έχετε δίκιο.

Ζωή: Πού μάθατε να χορεύετε τόσο ωραία, υπολοχαγέ;

Στέφανος: Ένας φίλος μου λέει πώς το παν είναι η απόφαση να χορέψει κάποιος.

Ζωή: Ήθελα τόσο να χορέψω.

Στέφανος: Σας αγαπάω. Σας αγαπάω από την πρώτη στιγμή που σας είδα.

[…]

Σας αγαπώ.

Ζωή: Πιστεύετε στα παραμύθια;

Στέφανος: Εγώ δεν ξέρω απ’ αυτά. Εγώ σας περίμενα. Το μόνο που ήθελα να σας πω είναι ότι σας αγαπάω. Αυτό.

[…]

Και ότι ντρέπομαι, ντρέπομαι πολύ.

Ζωή: Μη ντρέπεστε, χορέψατε τόσο ωραία.

 

Army officer: Colonel, I’d like to give you some great news.

Stefanos: It would be my honour if you’d dance this tango with me.

Manolis (colonel): Thank you very much.

Zoi: What is your name?

Stefanos: Lieutenant Stefanos Karamanidis.

Zoi: My name is Zoi.

Stefanos: I know. It was me who sent you the vinyl with the tango music. I didn’t have the courage to sign with my name.

Zoi: It was you after all.

Stefanos: Apologies for my audacity. Please.

Zoi: Do not beg [for forgiveness]. In the army, one does not plead, does he?

Stefanos: You’re right.

Zoi: Where did you learn to dance so beautifully, lieutenant?

Stefanos: A friend told me that the most important thing is the decision to dance.

Zoi: I wanted to dance so badly.

Stefanos: I love you. I love you from the very first moment I saw you.

[…]

I love you.

Zoi: Do you believe in fairy tales?

Stefanos: Such things are beyond me. I waited for you. All I wanted to tell you is that I love you. That’s all.

[…]

And that I’m ashamed, I’m so ashamed.

Zoi: Don’t be ashamed, you danced so beautifully.

 

 

The movie:
Christmas Tango, 2011, 102’
Directed by Nikos Koutelidakis
Cast: Yannis Bezos, Antinoos Albanis, Yannis Stankoglou, Vicky Papadopoulou
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJPPxjOEwhU

Full movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcGredzXu_E

 

The book:
Yannis Xanthoulis, To Tango ton Hristougennon
Kastaniotis, 2011, 173 pages

 

P.S. Have you ever been at Christmas in Greece? Usually, the weather is better than shown in the movie, and of course, there is a lot of entertainment going on, outside of the military camps 😊
Maybe one day you should celebrate Christmas in Greece? You can click here to learn more about Greek Christmas Traditions