This Saturday, a monumental historic documentary retells the events that ultimately led to the epic Battles of Marathon and Salamine.
Spotlight on the South Eastern Mediterranean, 2,500 years ago. Under King Darius, the Persian Empire rules over its vast territory with an iron fist. Milet, a Greek township in Asia Minor, enlists the support of mighty Athens and Eretria to revolt against the brutal reign. While Darius destroys Milet and Eretria in retaliation, he sends an offer of allegiance to Athens, which, however, is rejected by its great and influential war strategist Miltiadis. This ultimately leads to the epic battle of Marathon and Salamine ending in the decisive Greek victory which drives out the Persians.
Shot against green wall at the ARTE France studios in Paris, the film features spectacular special effects of sweeping landscapes, battles royales, and legions of soldiers on horseback, taking the viewer right in the epicenter of the events.
We have a rare opportunity to catch up with Marc Duret, who in 2013 was named Best French Film Actor by a leading American entertainment magazine. Perfectly cast as Miltiadis, he brings a gravitas to the role that makes his character spring right back to life. “I very much liked the writing of Stephanie Hauville and the directing of Fabrice Hourlier – a great artistic couple. Also, the costumes Vincent Dumas created were just amazing,” Marc spontaneously remembers some of his favorite impressions of the shoot.
Another aspect he is truly excited about is one that most other actors would shy away from: “Even though narration is in French, the dialogues are in Ancient Greek and Persian. I learned my lines phonetically but speaking English and Italian helped me a lot as the inflection is the same in ancient Greek,” Marc shares with us. Actually, attention to detail went as far as having a choice of accents, either Southern or Northern. “I preferred the Southern one so I did that.” Hardly surprising though that he would welcome the challenge of playing in an unfamiliar language… for over 30 years, screens and stages around the world have been home for this formidable Nice-born actor for whom French, English, and Italian are second nature, and who adores multicultural environments and international productions.
As soon as Marc finished his part in “Athènes”, he jumped forward two and a half thousand years and right into the boots of Napoleon, in “1812, de Feu et de Glace”, another high-profile ARTE production and great TV event to look forward to, scheduled for broadcast later this year.
Meanwhile though, don’t miss “Au Nom d’Athènes”, one of ARTE’s summer highlights, on Saturday, July 12 at 20h45.
Natja Igney is a senior global communications strategist with 1021 Global Communications Consulting. She has a particular interest in theatre and filmmaking.
All images courtesy ARTE