Doménikos Theotokópoulos known as "El Greco" is considered one of the most important painters in the history of the Western world, and his career, which alternated between the Byzantine style of Crete, where he was born and the mannerism of his latter years in Italy and Spain. El Greco, despite embracing the spirit of the Counter Reformation in his painting, continued to include many elements stemming from Greek Orthodox tradition during his final period in Toledo. In pictures such as El Expolio (‘The Disrobing of Christ’), the painter makes use of Byzantine iconography, although this was not necessarily done consciously.
"El Greco" is the 2007 film by Greek director Yannis Smaragdis. It did very well in Greece but less so elsewhere. Shooting took place in Heraklion on the Greek island of Crete, Toledo (Spain) and Athens (Greece). Vangelis provided the musical score for the film. It is the second time Vangelis and Smaragdis worked on a film together, after their successful cooperation during the production of "Kavafis" in 1996. It is no coincidence either, as according to Smaragdis “it was his (Vangelis) idea, as well as some Cretan businessmen who provided the initial funding to begin production.” The subject is not new to Vangelis either, as in 1995 he dedicated a entire new album to the paintings of El Greco ("FOROS TIMIS STON GREKO") to raise funds for the purchase of Theotokopoulos' painting 'Saint Peter' by the National Gallery (Alexandros Soutzos Museum) in Athens.
According to Smaragidis: “It is the epic story of a Greek artist who refused to compromise, a fighter for freedom. It is a journey of light which tries to transcend the darkness of its times and reach the realm of the divine. I was born in Heraklion in Crete, 300 meters away from the house of El Greco. I lived under the sky that gave birth to him, I was baptized in the sea in which he swam, I loved the same Cretans that brought him to the world and I yearned for the same journey beyond the sea that entraps our island, Crete. The Cretans are a strange clan of Greeks with their own distinct characteristics. They are uncompromising and free but also great lovers of the pleasures of life and adventure. This strange and creative individual, El Greco, in whom lives the great soul of his land, has won international recognition by preserving the characteristics of his clan during the hardships, and did not yield even before his greatest adversary, the Holy Inquisition. He is a hero that draws the juices of life, strange and fascinating, who fought against the darkness and ignorance of his time and won. A positive figure who can become a role model for the people of today and tomorrow, and give faith and hope to each of us to find our own way to freedom."
The young British actor Nick Ashdon plays the title role, while the script, based on a story by Dimitris Nollas and Panayiotis Paschidis (from Dimitris Siatopoulos’ book "The Painter of God") has been co-written by UK writer Jackie Pavlenko (together with Smaragdis). The film also features local actor and comedian Lakis Lazopoulos, who plays a Cretan shepherd that was Theotokopoulos' companion and protector in his travels. Smaragdis describes Lazopoulos as “a character who plays the role of the country’s conscience, a reflection of its spirit.”