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 Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974) 
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CLASS TRIP #11
The Engagement of Anna

Country: Greece
Year of Release: 1974
Directed by: Pantelis Voulgaris
Written by: Menis Koumantareas, Pantelis Voulgaris
Starring: Anna Vagena, Smaro Veaki, Kotas Rigopoulos


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"In his astounding debut film Voulgaris established the subtlety of tone with which he would uncompromisingly dissect
Greek society. A bourgeois family is gathered for a sunny garden party to celebrate the betrothal of Anna, the maid.
But "engagement" is too kind a translation: they have arranged Anna's marriage for her, and only now introduce her
to her bridegroom-to-be. As the day and evening wear on, the family gradually realize that they cannot, after all,
do without this servant girl-just after Anna delights in her first taste of happiness, listening to taverna music
with her new beau. The sort of dazed indignity of Anna's position-typical of young girls from poor families
who are routinely indentured to bourgeois households-is recreated in the film's unhurried pacing, where
urgency lies deeply buried. Voulgaris's film is a triumph of intelligence and compassion.
"

- Peter Pappas

"Born in Athens, Voulgaris studied at the Stavrakos Film School and, like many other Greek filmmakers of his generation,
began his career as an assistant at Finos Film Studios. Voulgaris had already worked as an assistant director in over
twenty productions when he made a promising debut with two short films -- The Thief and Tzimis o Tigris
(Jimmy the Tiger, 1966) -- and an ethnological documentary, O Chorus ton Tragon (Dance of the Goats,
1969). In 1970, while the country was firmly under the fascist military regime of the Colonels,
Voulgaris completed The Engagement of Anna. This film was among the first and most
distinctive manifestations of a different and dynamic cinema which would come to be
known as New Greek Cinema.
"

- The Museum of Modern Art

"The Engagement of Anna. Today, the dynamic action of feminist movements in western Europe, the USA, and
(after the fall of the dictatorship in 1974) Greece, and the phenomenal development of gender studies in cinema,
including feminist critic approaches, allows us to examine issues through the perspective of gender; however,
this practice was anything but self-evident in the Greece of the early Seventies. At that time, and in his
debut as a feature film director, the decision of Voulgaris to place Anna΄s story in the heart of the
narrative is particularly valuable and substantially innovative; much more so because the issue of
gender had been left out of the political agenda of the Greek Left, and the request for
democratisation was being expressed by the New Greek Cinema mainly through
political allegory. Anna is a pariah in the system.

She is a woman, a servant, and an internal migrant, a peasant who left her village for the city. Anna is subject to class
oppression, cultural oppression, and gender oppression. The engagement is a social institution which, together with
marriage, defines one aspect of the management of women΄s fate. As will happen in Brides, the lives and desires
of women are managed by others; apparently, Voulgaris became preoccupied with the concept of management
of women΄s lives quite early on. I would readily employ the working hypothesis that, although The
Engagement of Anna was made before the fall of junta in 1974, it belongs to the period after it.
As some sort of herald, it touches on certain subjects which were clearly and articulately
expressed following the feminist movement revival after 1974; later, they were brought
to the fore through women directors Tonia Marketaki, Frida Liappa and several others.

In the late years of the junta, Anna's character—as conceived by Voulgaris and Koumantareas and played by Vagena
—outlines the oppression of female desire, the submission of the female gender, the inhibitions of women against
breaking through the walls of their prison, and frustration as a component of women΄s fate.
"

- Yianna Athanassatou

"One of Greece's most respected veteran directors, Pantelis Voulgaris--who's virtually unknown outside Europe--has
earned a reputation as a subtle prober of his country's social strata and a sensitive observer of the psychological
shifts in everyday life. His debut feature, The Engagement of Anna (1972), which opens the Film Center's
mini retrospective, serves as a lucid introduction to his main thematic concerns and his understated yet
insightful visual style. Much of the film's action takes place in a courtyard of a bourgeois family in an
Athens suburb, as family members gather for the first meeting between the maid Anna and her
suitor. Gradually their posturing, bantering, and asides--presented as casual cinema verite--
reveal a hypocrisy and condescension beneath the altruistic facade. In contrast, Anna, the
poor village girl who's been "adopted" by the grandmother, is shown as an island of
seriousness and quiet strength; her docility only strengthens her moral appeal.
The film's mood darkens after Anna and the prospective bridegroom spend the
night out on the town: the family now suspects the worst and demands that
Anna remain a servant and a spinster. With compassion but also a critical
distance Voulgaris unfolds Anna's anguish in having to choose between
her future happiness and the needs of her two families. Her choice is
a harsh indictment of a class system in which a working-class girl is
always a sacrificial lamb. In the excellent ensemble acting--which
at times seems improvised--Anna Vayena's portrayal of Anna
stands out as an excellent study in stoicism.
"

- Ted Shen


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Watch the film and post your thoughts on or around Saturday, June 15th. Or sooner. Or later. Just participate!

DROPBOX | KG

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Past Trips:

Class Trip #1: Distant Journey (Radok, 1949) | snapper
Class Trip #2: Nanami: The Inferno of First Love (Hani, 1968) | Das
Class Trip #3: The Policewoman (Sapinho, 2003) | charulata
Class Trip #4: Freeze, Die, Come to Life! (Kanevsky, 1989) | Bandy Greensacks
Class Trip #5: The Perfume of the Lady in Black (Barilli, 1974) | Trip
Class Trip #6: Weddings and Babies (Engel, 1958) | snapper
Class Trip #7: The Man with Three Coffins (Lee, 1987) | Notes from Underground
Class Trip #8: Malina (Schroeter, 1991) | Shieldmaiden
Class Trip #9: Bad Luck (Munk, 1960) | B-Side
Class Trip #10: The Girl with the Suitcase (Zurlini, 1961) | JediMoonShyne

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Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:15 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

Also, please watch The Girl with the Suitcase if you ever had any intention of doing so. I'm delaying this one until the 15th for good reason.

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Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:19 pm
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ooo looks delicious


Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:19 pm
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looks great!


Wed Jun 05, 2013 3:06 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

excited!

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* Ordinary Matter / Frampton
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Wed Jun 05, 2013 3:34 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

Haha, just noticed the typo in the title. I'll fix that tomorrow, I guess

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Wed Jun 05, 2013 3:38 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

those engaments

even when it was the bears i knew it was them

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Latest notable first-time viewings:

* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston
The Love Witch / Biller
Edward Hopper / Peck
Les signes / Green
Time and Tide / Hutton
* Ordinary Matter / Frampton
Vertical Features Remake / Greenaway
* Chickens / Amiralay


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Wed Jun 05, 2013 3:48 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

In!

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Wed Jun 05, 2013 4:55 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

I'll try my best to make this one since I failed to do so last time. Also, this films interests me more. Sorry, Jedi.

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Wed Jun 05, 2013 5:25 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

Fixed

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Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:17 am
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

Remember, try to watch on or before Saturday the 15th (this coming Saturday)

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Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:51 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

Didn't forget about this; grabbing now.

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Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:16 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

I like that it's short.

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Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:18 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

Trip wrote:
I like that it's short.

This has become a feature of my viewing these days. Like, I feel as though I enjoyed Shinkai's latest more because it was so short.

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Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:47 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

I think that's an important feature of Class Trip films

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Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:58 am
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

i said i'd watch this, but i probably won't lol

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Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:28 am
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

That's because you're 12 years old and what is this?

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Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:30 am
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

true

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Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:41 am
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My computer was stolen, will try to get to it by Sunday my time

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Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston
The Love Witch / Biller
Edward Hopper / Peck
Les signes / Green
Time and Tide / Hutton
* Ordinary Matter / Frampton
Vertical Features Remake / Greenaway
* Chickens / Amiralay


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Fri Jun 14, 2013 7:07 am
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

Watching now. Hopefully I'll be able to write something later.

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Sat Jun 15, 2013 2:17 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

Also watching now

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* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston
The Love Witch / Biller
Edward Hopper / Peck
Les signes / Green
Time and Tide / Hutton
* Ordinary Matter / Frampton
Vertical Features Remake / Greenaway
* Chickens / Amiralay


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Sat Jun 15, 2013 3:41 pm
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I cant as my computer was stolen.

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Sat Jun 15, 2013 3:46 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

Was your computer stolen

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Latest notable first-time viewings:

* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston
The Love Witch / Biller
Edward Hopper / Peck
Les signes / Green
Time and Tide / Hutton
* Ordinary Matter / Frampton
Vertical Features Remake / Greenaway
* Chickens / Amiralay


TWEET1 | TWEET2 | FACE | BOXD | TUMBL1 | TUMBL2


Sat Jun 15, 2013 3:49 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

Bry should watch movies or stop posting

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Latest notable first-time viewings:

* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston
The Love Witch / Biller
Edward Hopper / Peck
Les signes / Green
Time and Tide / Hutton
* Ordinary Matter / Frampton
Vertical Features Remake / Greenaway
* Chickens / Amiralay


TWEET1 | TWEET2 | FACE | BOXD | TUMBL1 | TUMBL2


Sat Jun 15, 2013 3:50 pm
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snapper wrote:
Bry should watch movies or stop posting


maybe i'll do both

but you'd miss me

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Sat Jun 15, 2013 5:58 pm
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I'm halfway through and gonna finish it tomorrow because I got dragged to a bogan party and its 12:30 and I just got home

BUT its rill good so far

_________________
Latest notable first-time viewings:

* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston
The Love Witch / Biller
Edward Hopper / Peck
Les signes / Green
Time and Tide / Hutton
* Ordinary Matter / Frampton
Vertical Features Remake / Greenaway
* Chickens / Amiralay


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Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:33 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

I actually really liked this one, overall. As far as the caste system in 1970s Greece is concerned, I know only what I've read in reviews of this film, but I love the way Voulgaris portrays the upper class family as alternately -- sometimes simultaneously -- caring and self-interested, but also completely unable or unwilling to recognize Anna as an individual with her own needs and desires.

That quiet moment with Anna and the mirror speaks volumes.

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I'll try to add a bit more once others do

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Sun Jun 16, 2013 2:31 am
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I really really enjoyed this. I like how it is definitely critical of the family and the political/class system they represent but the film isn't necessarily bitter or overly cynical in the way, say, Bunuel would have been. It basically presents this suffocating class bondage as something that exists and is taken for granted, and provides Anna's romance as an alternative by which women and the underclass can maybe escape, or reclaim their destinies. It ends on this frustrated note but then there's that beautiful little pan across Athens at sunset which paints it as such an ambiguous space that you feel anything could happen - maybe she'll meet him at the arranged date, maybe she won't. You feel like there's still a lot of Anna that isn't shown to us and her story continues past the final frame (and Anna Vagena is great at giving this impression, too)

Voulgaris is amazing at speaking these volumes through such quiet images and unfusssy symbolism. He turns simple actions like Anna's beau touching her hair in the cafe into totally arresting moments, and can subvert them on a dime in a way that isn't tacky or puerile or overly cynical (i.e. her hand gliding down his arm before pulling back his sleeve and checking his watch). And I love that he has the courage to make Anna a peripheral character in her own story at points - just as her bosses do. A very clever, beautiful miniature that makes me interested in seeing him work with a more expansive story - might try The Stone Years next

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Latest notable first-time viewings:

* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston
The Love Witch / Biller
Edward Hopper / Peck
Les signes / Green
Time and Tide / Hutton
* Ordinary Matter / Frampton
Vertical Features Remake / Greenaway
* Chickens / Amiralay


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Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:07 pm
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snapper wrote:
Voulgaris is amazing at speaking these volumes through such quiet images and unfusssy symbolism. He turns simple actions like Anna's beau touching her hair in the cafe into totally arresting moments, and can subvert them on a dime in a way that isn't tacky or puerile or overly cynical (i.e. her hand gliding down his arm before pulling back his sleeve and checking his watch).

It's almost entirely free of melodrama, and the lack of any non-diagetic music was a pleasant surprise. The film is made up of subtle moments like the two you mentioned and the mirror sequence I brought up earlier, and you're left to draw your own conclusions about their meaning.

snapper wrote:
And I love that he has the courage to make Anna a peripheral character in her own story at points - just as her bosses do. A very clever, beautiful miniature that makes me interested in seeing him work with a more expansive story - might try The Stone Years next


Yeah, this one made me want to see more, too.
I think only Soul Deep and Brides have English subs, though, unfortunately

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Mon Jun 17, 2013 3:14 am
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

I know I missed three in a row but one of the best Class Trips of the series and no one shows up! Come on, it's 80 minutes

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Latest notable first-time viewings:

* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston
The Love Witch / Biller
Edward Hopper / Peck
Les signes / Green
Time and Tide / Hutton
* Ordinary Matter / Frampton
Vertical Features Remake / Greenaway
* Chickens / Amiralay


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Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:00 am
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

Watch it whenever you can, but if you have any interest at all in the film, you should try to see it. This Class Trip thing is pretty much over, otherwise.

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Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:35 am
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I'd like to do one last Class Trip even if interest is waning, just so I can end it on an even number

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* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston
The Love Witch / Biller
Edward Hopper / Peck
Les signes / Green
Time and Tide / Hutton
* Ordinary Matter / Frampton
Vertical Features Remake / Greenaway
* Chickens / Amiralay


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Mon Jun 17, 2013 3:01 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

Trip
charu
Jedi
Bry
Notes
Maiden!

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Latest notable first-time viewings:

* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston
The Love Witch / Biller
Edward Hopper / Peck
Les signes / Green
Time and Tide / Hutton
* Ordinary Matter / Frampton
Vertical Features Remake / Greenaway
* Chickens / Amiralay


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Mon Jun 17, 2013 3:02 pm
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I plan on watching it today!

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Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:09 pm
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I'll watch it today.

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Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:15 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

Okay!

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Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:18 pm
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I do still plan to watch this. I pay no attention to the watch date thing ugh.

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Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:19 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

Watched it. Thought it was decent. Quite pretty at times, too. And I pretty much echo the sentiments of Bandy Snaps.

Bandy wrote:
I love the way Voulgaris portrays the upper class family as alternately -- sometimes simultaneously -- caring and self-interested

I'd say it was affectionate or caring in a way that a human might treat a family pet (as seen with the kitten, the goldfish etc.) In fact, I thought some of Anna's mannerisms in response to the family bordered on being pet-like as well, particularly the moment with her handbag (around the hour mark). I guess you could compare it to an infant, too.

Snaps wrote:
I like how it is definitely critical of the family and the political/class system they represent but the film isn't necessarily bitter or overly cynical in the way, say, Bunuel would have been.

Yeah. I thought the criticism was mostly littered around as hints in the dialogue, e.g. "It's been a long time. You must have gotten used to it." which was said when moustachioed-magnificence was discussing Anna's situation on their nice little date. It links to a fairly common argument of the conservative stance: that's how it's always been done, so why bother changing it? It wasn't ever obtuse in its criticism, though. It was mostly pointing out the stupidity of the whole thing just by showing it exists. Or maybe that's the beauty of hindsight.

That's all I've got.

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"I thought, well, heaven, all that marble and giltwork, sounds a bit middle class. I would prefer something that was, I don't know, carpeted and had skirting boards, things like that." — Alan Moore

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Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:05 pm
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The pet comparison is a good one.

The old woman lying about Anna swearing at her and then claiming she's "like a daughter" to her is probably the most despicable thing anyone in the family does. There's no way any trust can remain after that.

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Tue Jun 18, 2013 2:40 am
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Did you feel that it was suggested that fat push-up guy was sleeping with Anna before? There was the scene where he went inside to 'fetch' her for the dancing and the camera left them for a while. I thought there might be something going on.

Then there's his creepy awful interrogation of her behaviour on her date. gross

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Latest notable first-time viewings:

* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston
The Love Witch / Biller
Edward Hopper / Peck
Les signes / Green
Time and Tide / Hutton
* Ordinary Matter / Frampton
Vertical Features Remake / Greenaway
* Chickens / Amiralay


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Tue Jun 18, 2013 6:00 am
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snapper wrote:
Did you feel that it was suggested that fat push-up guy was sleeping with Anna before? There was the scene where he went inside to 'fetch' her for the dancing and the camera left them for a while. I thought there might be something going on.

Then there's his creepy awful interrogation of her behaviour on her date. gross

I just assumed he was a pervert; his manner implying Anna was more of an object to him than a fully-fledged human-being.

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"I thought, well, heaven, all that marble and giltwork, sounds a bit middle class. I would prefer something that was, I don't know, carpeted and had skirting boards, things like that." — Alan Moore

Last.fm


Tue Jun 18, 2013 6:27 am
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Notes from Underground wrote:
I just assumed he was a pervert; his manner implying Anna was more of an object to him than a fully-fledged human-being.


Ohhhhhhh yeeeeeeah

Snap into a Slim Jim!

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Tue Jun 18, 2013 6:30 am
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Bandy Greensacks wrote:

Ohhhhhhh yeeeeeeah

Snap into a Slim Jim!

Dig it!

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"I thought, well, heaven, all that marble and giltwork, sounds a bit middle class. I would prefer something that was, I don't know, carpeted and had skirting boards, things like that." — Alan Moore

Last.fm


Tue Jun 18, 2013 6:32 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
I plan on watching it today!

Somebody didn't stick to the plan.

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"I thought, well, heaven, all that marble and giltwork, sounds a bit middle class. I would prefer something that was, I don't know, carpeted and had skirting boards, things like that." — Alan Moore

Last.fm


Tue Jun 18, 2013 3:04 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

I'm kind of wanting to finish the Class Trip with one more instalment. Maybe something from the 30s as we haven't done anything from that decade yet.

I have four options so far:

To Whom Does the World Belong? Slatan Dudow
A Song of Lisbon José Cottinelli Telmo
Our Neighbour, Miss Yae Yasujirō Shimazu
The Story of a Cheat Sacha Guitry

I'm leaning towards the Japanese one. Thoughts?

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Latest notable first-time viewings:

* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston
The Love Witch / Biller
Edward Hopper / Peck
Les signes / Green
Time and Tide / Hutton
* Ordinary Matter / Frampton
Vertical Features Remake / Greenaway
* Chickens / Amiralay


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Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:08 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

And I'm just stealing the last instalment so I can bookend the project

_________________
Latest notable first-time viewings:

* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston
The Love Witch / Biller
Edward Hopper / Peck
Les signes / Green
Time and Tide / Hutton
* Ordinary Matter / Frampton
Vertical Features Remake / Greenaway
* Chickens / Amiralay


TWEET1 | TWEET2 | FACE | BOXD | TUMBL1 | TUMBL2


Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:09 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

Notes from Underground wrote:
Somebody didn't stick to the plan.

I watched it!

But, watching it and writing about it are two different things.

_________________
“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

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Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:16 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

Pfft

But at least you watched it

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Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:30 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

JediMoonShyne wrote:
I watched it!

But, watching it and writing about it are two different things.

I forgive you.

_________________
"I thought, well, heaven, all that marble and giltwork, sounds a bit middle class. I would prefer something that was, I don't know, carpeted and had skirting boards, things like that." — Alan Moore

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Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:47 pm
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Post Re: Class Trip #11: The Engagement of Anna (Voulgaris, 1974)

Bandy Greensacks wrote:
That quiet moment with Anna and the mirror speaks volumes.

Yes, probably my favourite moment.

I, too, liked this one, and am happy someone else mentioned Buñuel since it's an idea he visited but, yes, obviously with a lot less ambiguity. Given the political state of Greece at the time, one might even forgive Voulgaris for harbouring some kind of agenda, but there's not much of one here: as others have mentioned, there is some criticism of the middle and upper classes in that Anna's family seem to care more about her as an asset than her happiness, but at least she is not treated as a mere object. Has anyone seen The Idlers of the Fertile Valley? It reminded me a little of that, and also somehow Rohmer, perhaps given how the women's garden conversations were framed.

_________________
“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

WCoF I II IIIL'EtàL'Eau한국88ShadowsBerlin thırd ISOLATIONVistaVision


Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:15 pm
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