Acropolis museum cuts film after Church's protest

Visitors look at the temple of the Parthenon from inside the new Acropolis museum in Athens June 21, 2009. REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s new Acropolis museum will drop some scenes of a short film by director Costa Gavras after protests from the country’s powerful Orthodox Church, the museum’s director said Sunday.

The row over the film, which informs visitors about the history of the 5th century BC Parthenon temple and depicts early Christians ruining the monument, erupted just weeks after the opening of the new Acropolis museum in June.

The Greek-born filmmaker, famous for movies such as the Oscar-winning “Z” and “Missing,” contributed a 1 minute and 40 second animation film showing figures in robes hacking at the temple to the museum’s 13 minute video presentation.

“We don’t want to offend anyone,” the museum’s director Dimitris Pantermalis told Reuters. “We will exclude this piece from the material he (Gavras) gave us,” he said, noting that a 12 second scene would be edited out of the film.

Greek media said the Church had protested to the museum. There was no official statement by the Holy Synod.

“What the clergy did back then, smashing the marbles, they are doing today (to this film),” Gavras said on the private MEGA TV channel. “If they want to show it this way ... my name can’t be on the film.”

The Acropolis museum, inaugurated after years of legal battles and missed deadlines, was built partly with the aim of housing the marble sculptures removed from the Parthenon by Britain’s Lord Elgin in 1806. The so-called Elgin marbles are exhibited at the British Museum in London.

Greece’s Orthodox Church officially represents more than 90 percent of the 11 million strong population. Early Christians tore down statues and temples in a effort to eradicate paganism.

Reporting by Renee Maltezou, editing by Elizabeth Fullerton