The 2019 film Entwined by Greek director and screenwriter Minos Nikolakakis is a disturbing mythical Greek story in the context of Eros and Thanatos. “Under every folkloric myth, you can make out a human story, some kind of human behaviour.” Nikolakakis’ sentence gives an idea about the general structure of the film, but in the case of the Entwined, it seems more logical to reverse this sentence as “Under every human story full of various human acts, there’s a folkloric myth.”
One of the films that Nikolakakis is influenced by is Masaki Kobayashi‘s production of Kwaidan, and the other is Jaromil Jireš‘ Valerie and Her Week of Wonders. In order to understand Nikolakakis better, it will be useful to provide an overview of these films in the first place.
Kwaidan & Valerie And her Week of Wonders
The film Kwaidan is the reflection of the work Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn, who admires Greek and Japanese cultures and later acquired Japanese citizenship. This book and movie, which can be seen as “Ghost Stories” from its Japanese translation, consists of four Japanese stories. This work of Hearn, who is a fan of mysticism and folkloric myths, has been adapted to the cinema with a mythical narrative.
Surrealism stands out in Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, which is seen as one of the most important parts of the Czech New Wave movement. The film, which includes the vampire myth, the witch hunt, eroticism, metamorphosis, female homosexuality and many other “extraordinary” phenomena, is in a way the mature fairy tale of the mature Alice.
On the other hand, Entwined, which took place in the 39th Istanbul Film Festival‘s June selection, has absorbed the dynamics of these two films into each sequence, almost like an Ancient Greek work. The story, which takes place in the circle of Ethos, Logos and Pathos, can be summarized as follows: Doctor Panos (Prometheus Aleifer) goes to the village of Aliti after the death of his father and starts working as a doctor there. On the way to the village, a strange young woman leaps in front of him, but before Panos can help her, the young woman runs away. When he takes a stroll in the woods to get away from the disturbing environment in the village, he stumbles upon a hut, and the person staying there is the young woman Danae (Anastasia Rafaella Konidi), who previously jumped in front of his car. As he tries to heal Danae‘s body wounds and spends more time with her, Panos falls under Danae’s spell. This love, which starts like a fairy tale, slowly prepares its own end with the nightmare.
While the name of Panos means “all holy”, with another view, it resembles the Greek word “Pathos” in terms of its pronunciation. I mentioned that the film is moving around Ethos, Logos and Pathos. Ethos symbolizes the dignity of the person. An example is that all villagers refer to Danae as “the witch.” Logos is to appeal to the logic of the target audience or person. Danae brings Panos closer to her step by step and persuades her with the sentences and narratives as she has memorized from a poetry book. Pathos; it’s a state of appealing to emotions. It contains empathy. Panos represents pathos in front of Danae’s logos. He achieves deep empathy with the person who was with Danae before him and who he knew as her “father” but actually who understands that he is the missing son of a woman living in the village. Before coming to the village of Aliti, Panos, who has the effort and belief to explain everything with science, is a concrete example of logos, after meeting Danae, he steps into the field of emotional intelligence; Pathos.
We can examine the Entwined story within the framework of the standard path of the hero’s mythological adventure, which Joseph Campbell mentions in his book A Hero With A Thousand Faces. As the core unit of Monomyth; We can express the ways of separation — initiation — return with three letters.
“A hero moves out of the usual world into a realm of supernatural oddities. (X)“
Panos enters the hut he encounters on his stroll through the woods and contacts Danae, so he is considered to be moving forward in the region of strangeness. Thinking that the man she knew as her father had been forced into sexual intercourse with Danae, she got into a quarrel with him and was hurt, and then carries out his treatment in the village. While Panos thinks he’s clearing the road from stones, it doesn’t take him long to realize that she is the real rock. When he starts treating Danae, he wants to leave for a while and return to the village, but the forest does not allow this return. Although Panos lost his way to the village, he easily finds the way to the hut every time. Danae interprets this as the forest not wanting to leave Panos. Leaving the ordinary world and drawn into the extraordinary world, Panos witnesses her strange behavior as he spends time with Danae. A fire is burning in the hut that is never allowed to go out.
As much as the forest acts as a subject catalyst in the story, the fire shares the same position with the forest. The forest which having a deep and influential role as heroes, draws parallels between hero’s changes and their own changes. It has an atmosphere that is both enchanting and threatening. Therefore, it is similar to the energy of the heroine. Fire represents Hestia. Although this fire has depth, it is portrayed as an abstract concept and hero without a personality. Hestia is the goddess of eternal fire and the goddess responsible for the order of houses in ancient Greek mythology. She is the most gentle goddess in Olympus and represents the mature virgin woman. Her Latin name, Vesta, also means hearth and home.
Although Danae resembles a fairy girl in appearance and has a white aura, she is in stark contrast to Hestia, whom she carefully protects in terms of personality. Fed by love but serially monogamous, Danae is a heroine who connects men both to herself and to the place where she is, with the presence of a “seductive woman.” This supernatural woman, who heals the bark wounds on her body thanks to love, turns the life energy and state of existence of the man she has into an eternal source of life for herself.
She creates a union of contrasts not only with Hestia but also with her lover Panos. Nikolakakis clarifies this situation with the following words; “They are polar opposites, two different worlds that fail to recognize each other’s existence. And we made them fall in love with each other. This is pretty much what happens in every relationship; we consider our view of the world to be the right one, and we clash with others that have different views. There is no black or white, things are more complicated and ‘entwined’.”
“Here, fairytale powers are encountered and a decisive victory is achieved. (Y)”
Thanks to Danae, Panos encounters the extraordinary in the events and situations we experience daily. He learns that he is one with nature and comes from nature, and at the same time, not everything can be explained by science. From the moment he marries Danae, he is dragged into an unavoidable collapse as he has become her lifeblood. He begins to experience the same fate as the man he sees when he first visits the hut. Panos who caught in a mythological tragedy arising from the suffering of a person stuck between the known and the unknown, tries every way to escape, but in order to escape, Danae must reject Panos, not the other way around. Indeed, this first option happens, but Panos’ half-brother is the one who made Danae reject Panos. Failing to turn the brothers against each other, Danae extinguishes the eternal fire and turns into her own essence; a dried tree trunk.
“The hero returns from this mysterious adventure with a power that gives him an upper hand over others. (Z)”
Unlike the men before him, Panos manages to get out of the forest with his brother. Danae is planted in the place where it was born and occurred. From here it begins to grow into what I think is a mock-orange tree. The mock-orange flower also represents deceit and deception.
The Entwined movie, which can be considered as a New Weird Greek Wave, is a folkloric and mythical creation that can be alongside Lanthimos films with its disturbing elements, its attack on civilization. Although the stories come to an end, the journey of the heroes is endless. That is why it is quite possible that we will watch, read or even experience the same story with different heroes except Panos and Danae. If life is Plato‘s cave, the story and heroes of the movie Entwined are nothing more than the shadows seen from that cave. The eternal fire will continue to exist in the cave with Hestia, and the step into the realm will begin with the exit from the cave.