CULTURE

The all-weather Thanassis Vengos

“He was always running around. After filming, he would often come back home and start dusting. When we asked him why he did that, he replied that it calmed him. He is terribly stressed about everything and he claims that if you aren’t stressed, you aren’t an actor. Every time he appears on stage he has a lot of stress, which sometimes shows. It is part of his character…» This might be the first time that Vassilis Vengos, the comedian’s eldest son, has had the chance to talk about his father; his rare insight into his father was filmed by Yiannis Soldatos, whose documentary «An All-Weather Man» received a prize from the Ministry of Culture recently. The production is a live tribute to comedian Thanassis Vengos, featuring the words of his numerous directors and colleagues (including Nikos Koundouros, Grigoris Grigoriou, Theodoros Angelopoulos and Pantelis Voulgaris, among others) and scenes from the actor’s films. The film is currently showing at cinemas in Athens. Naturally, Vassilis Vengos’s presence adds a different and sensitive touch to the film. From his own perspective, the comedian’s son returns to what he knows of his father’s early years and shares his thoughts: «I would say that my father is one of the few people, maybe the only one, who ‘benefited’ from his stay at Makronissos. Had he not gone there, he would not have met Nikos Koundouros and quite likely he would have remained, to this day, a very good leather goods manufacturer.» Thanassis Vengos’s first work as an actor, not widely known, feature prominently in the narrative: «His main colleagues, who helped him build the Vengos character we all know today, are Panos Glykofrydis, who is also a family friend, Errikos Thalassinos and Vassilis Georgiadis,» said Vassilis. «It was at that point that he felt restricted because he realized he wanted to do more, something he was unable to do under the circumstances at the time, so he founded his own film company.» Things did not go as planned and Thanassis Vengos had to close his company in 1967 for financial reasons. A modern Karaghiozis Vassilis Vengos gave a calm evaluation of his father: «Vengos stems from the character of [the traditional, shadow-theater comic character] Karaghiozis; he is a modern Karaghiozis. He is definitely influenced by him, though I don’t know to what extent.» «In all his films, my father depicted the modern Greek man who tries to survive by all possible means but never using trickery or deceit. Maybe this is one of the main differences between him and Karaghiozis.»