In our modern, kid-centric world, families are bombarded with an infinite array of movies and shows designed to keep your kid in a zombie-like stupor for years on end- a virtual babysitter while parents go shopping, eat at a restaurant, etc. This wasn’t always the case; a couple of generations ago, family-friendly movies were a rare treat. Even rarer was finding a good one- a truly great story that happened to be thematically appropriate for families, yet beautifully written and crafted for all.
O Mikos Drapetis is Greece’s 1968 entry in that category. A beautifully told film about a runaway boy named Alexis hiding out in a seaside town, it’s a rare film that accurately portrays the world from a kid’s perspective without being condescending or patronizing to its young audience. The kids from the neighborhood work together to protect Alexis, hiding him, feeding him, and coming up with clever schemes while the cops are trying to figure out where this young runaway might be.
Mikos is alternatingly sweet, and funny- though in true Greek fashion, there is some good ol’ fashioned melodrama woven into the running theme of the deep love between a boy and his mother. Neither ever give up hope of being reunited, which they do (of course) but not before passionate tears are shed. Most of the film, however, has Alexis spending time hiding with the neighborhod kids, specifically Maria and her brother Nikos.
Whatever pre-pubescent romantic chemistry can exist among kids that age definitely exists between Alexis and Maria, which does a wonderful job taking you back to your first childhood crush- it’s sweet and innocent, but genuine, something rarely found in the contrived Disney films of today. Mikos is the real deal; not a product of corporate demographic test markets, but a story someone actually wanted to tell (namely writer / director Stavros Tsiolis, who went on to make more grown-up dramas after this wonderful, whimsical debut.) The decades have only sweetened this nostalgic picture, one that now feels like a time capsule of innocence we rarely get to savor in our modern age.
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