Directed by Georgios Dimitropoulos| Reviewed by Rohan Bhattacharya
The magical effect of nature in our lives is not unfelt. The sense of overwhelming calmness as we gaze at the mountains or the ocean, and the distinct feeling of belonging when we are surrounded by plants and trees is very much a part of who we are. Humans and nature are inseparable; our connection with natural forces is an intimate one. Director Georgios Dimitropoulos’s ‘Melissanthe’ tries to validate our connection with nature by presenting a story that dates back a millennium. Humans have loved and feared nature; our admiration came with the creation of gods and mythical creatures that personified Mother Nature in her various distinct forms. Melissanthe, the nymph of the flowers and bees is one of those divine creatures.
The story is presented with a poem-like grace. Dimitropoulos presents to the viewers a story of nature and its suffering through the character, Melissanthe. The beautiful and graceful nymph Melissanthe is a force of nature; her beauty and grace are unmatched, and she is able to enthrall not only humans, but the gods themselves. Despite her many qualities, she is showcased to harbor love for nothing but her flowers and bees. She spends her days nourishing and nurturing them; helping them grow and sustain even in the dreadful winter months. Her eyes yearn for the sight of her beloved bees, and her heart beats to the rhythm of their fluttering wings. With a beautifully written script and the sheer beauty of Sabine Crossen’s voice, the character of Melissanthe is brought to life. The visuals flow like the steady tide of the ocean, blending in with the voice in the most magical of ways. Despite the love she bears for her flowers and bees, Melissanthe is distracted by the divine presence of the god, Pan. She pushes herself away from her children and proceeds to dedicate herself to winning the God’s heart. This doesn’t end well for the nymph as she is shunned by Pan.
Dimitropoulos’s script doesn’t simply tell the story of Melissanthe, it tells the story of humanity. A race of apes that was so closely tied to Mother Nature is now the force that ravages it. Melissanthe speaks of abandonment, and the human desire to indulge in temporary pleasures. Pan, the god of wind is known to be lustful and controlling; despite knowing the risks associated with wooing such an entity, Melissanthe is unable to forsake her desires. This is quite reminiscent of how humans tend to destroy Mother Earth and her resources to help facilitate their own selfish desires. The story brings with itself themes of conservation of bees, and spreads awareness about their dwindling population. It is not that the bees have lost goddess, it is just that humans have forgotten the importance of these little creatures. They have fallen prey to pollution and deforestation. Destruction of plant life has snatched from them their homes, and places where they could feed and prosper freely.
The director’s visual treatment of his film, ‘Melissanthe’, is quite magical. The audience can find themselves entering a realm starting from the very first shot of the start-shaped sun. The shot is then followed by numerous surreal visuals of nature, and a figure radiating light interacting with flowers, water and trees. The edit flows beautifully with the background score, enhancing the sense of vibrancy and gracefulness in the tone of the film. Even when the narration takes a gloomy turn, the rhythm within the shots make us anticipate for a hopeful end to our protagonist’s predicament. It is quite astonishing how Dimitropoulos has managed to capture the various elements of the nature-park so vividly with his camera; it almost feels as if the audience is there, observing Mother Nature nurture life. The short film is a treat to all our senses: the mind, the ears, and the eyes. We are truly sent to a realm closest to the divine while experiencing this short film.
Rohan Bhattacharya is a video editor, filmmaker and writer. His film Komorebi won the second prize in ‘South Asia Japanese Language Short Film Competition,’ organized by The Japan Foundation, New Delhi and his latest film “Tsubaki” has been screened at the Tokyo Short Film Festival in Japan. His production house Sunkaku Productions makes movies in Japanese language to create a bridge of culture between India and Japan.