After arranging to meet a friend, a man is let down by his lift and has to make his own way to his friend’s house by walking across a strange city whilst in desperate need of the toilet. Here is our review of Greek director Fanis Topsachalidis’s micro comedy Zipper.
Considering Ancient Greece is the birthplace of theatre it is surprising that the Greek film industry does not have a similar legacy. It was way back in the 6th century BC when a priest by the name of Thespis introduced a new activity which can be clearly defined as the birth of theatre. He stands in front of a crowd and engages in some dialogue with the chorus. He becomes, in effect, the first actor and ever since actors in the west have been proud to call themselves “Thespians”.
I have a feeling that the reason Greek films have not necessarily made their key international breakthrough is probably due to the history of modern Greece being filled with stories of war, government corruption, and persecution. Yet despite all of that, Greek cinema has managed to produce some flourishes even though it has occasionally been hampered by the various wars and political situations that have arisen.
My knowledge of Greek film is limited, however, Fanis Topsachalidis’ 5–minute comedy Zipper made me think briefly of Thespis, not just because of the Greek connection but because the story focuses on one actor who is on his own and simply reacting to what is going on around him in a completely alien environment. Like Thespis standing alone on his stage, our protagonist has never been in this position before. He doesn’t know what to expect from it, what reaction he is going to get from the people there and has no experience of dealing with this brand new situation he finds himself in. Plus, although I wasn’t around when Thespis was doing his thing, much like our character in Zipper I can well imagine Thespis too was bursting to go to the toilet.
Opening in a bus station we meet our protagonist waiting for a ride, he takes a phone call and we find out that his ride has let him down and he will have to walk across the town to his destination which is a good few miles away. We also find out that he has drunk a lot of water and is now desperate to relieve himself. It’s a relatable film in the sense that at some point we have all been in this same situation. Desperate for the toilet in a strange town.
The cinematography is clever, using a number of tracking shots and long shots that elongate the distance that our hero has to walk making it seem much further than it actually is. This gives the film a certain sense of jeopardy that the guy just isn’t going to make it.
The opening tracking shot as we follow him to his first toilet stop shows Topsachalides has a great eye for the streets and the roads he is working on while the basic soundtrack that mainly consists of short sharp blasts of noise is effective in conveying the confusion and shock of our protagonist’s dilemmas while the brief score allows us and the character a moment of relief.
Nothing much happens in Zipper, however at 4 minutes 50 seconds long it doesn’t drag too much either and there are far worse things around that last for a lot longer. However, as a quick piece of sketch comedy, it looks great, is completely innocent and comes across as a harmless bit of fun, and there is nothing wrong with that, is there?