THEO ANGELOPOULOS is the most celebrated filmmaker in contemporary Greek cinema. He is also one of the few masters of the world cinema of the auteurs to emerge in the decade of the `60s. Angelopoulos belongs to the modernist movement that began with Antonioni and included Rocha, Jancso, Oshima, Bertolucci, the Taviani brothers, Wenders. Most of them have gone, or have fallen silent or have chosen to follow lesser routes. He is always present on the bulwarks, wins awards at major festivals, with a film every two or three years, films that are landmarks in an unwavering and renewable course. Why? Because he traverses the great crises of our time, man's confrontation with ideologies, his defeat and his persistent and painful comeback and finds ways of giving this progression creative form. Man as conscience in the maelstrom of history: and, gradually, man as spiritual core and philosophical entity vis-a-vis history. Gaze and existence, in the end, poetry.

Already in his first film Reconstruction, the drama of a wife who murders her husband, is examined through a dual perspective: As the result of the devastation wrought on rural Greece by immigration, but also as distrust of the ostensible socio-psychological causes. The almost documentary-style realism with the amateur actors provides a creative contrast to the theatricality of the repeated reenactments and with the systematic alternations of «past-present»

The historical-political trilogy Days of '36, The Travelling Players and The Hunters established him as a pioneering and insightful investigator of political-historical events, with the creation of a dynamic form that could be regarded as cinematically equal to the Brechtian method. The turbulent history of Greece from 1936 to 1977, with its complex bloody clashes of left and right, Greeks and foreigners, with dictatorships and wars, with the occupation, the civil war and social persecution, unfolds in an extraordinarily composite model: Time is recycled, the constant movements of the camera unite space, time and diverse actions, the long shots, the lack of continuity, the evocation of "off camera" action, the unorthodox use of music, songs and silence, create a fictitious ritual. The spectacle within the spectacle, but also the theatricalization of historical events, the reference to mythical archetypes, all make the most of the thematic, linguistic and stylistic elements, both metaphorically and symbolically, in order to produce distance, conscience, at the same time as artistic emotion. History can be read materialistically, Angelopoulos tells us and be endowed with meaning.

Yet the decade of the '70s ends with new signs of crisis. In Megalexandros, the fictionalization of an historical incident with a bandit who becomes a charismatic leader only to degenerate into a bloody tyrant, focuses a critical eye on the utopia of absolute social justice. The myth self-destructs and the corruption that comes with absolute power destroys the Revolution.

With the sounds of creaking in the foundations of the communist regimes beginning to echo, the political refugee who returns (Voyage to Cythera) belongs nowhere. Totally alone in his own homeland while his film director son, in an ever increasing quandary, is unable to find the Logos, with which to tell his story.

A new phase begins for Angelopoulos. In The Beekeeper politics recede even more before elegy and memory. Tradition is dying and what then? The two children will search for their father and the tree of happiness beyond the filth of the world (Landscape in the Mist) - even beyond borders, as the ones that divide the engaged couple, that turn away refugees, that give rise to hatred, borders that are both external and internal, in this despair at the end of the century (The Suspended Step of the Stork).

In Ulysses' Gaze, the hero "A", traverses the turbulent Balkans and sails up the currents of history, searching for the pristine gaze of those first filmmakers. Angelopoulos' renewal is both internal-thematic and expressive at the same time, in a third dimension that is intellectual and existential. He intensifies his criticism of ideology as false conscience and attempts to replace it with the hero's anguished personal quest, redoubled as a result of the creator's intense scrutiny, somehow superimposed on the long, eerie, now meditative shots. It is the persistent attempt to perceive significance where there is no hope of it, to depict that which cannot be depicted, the courageous infiltration into the enigmatic labyrinth in the full knowledge that there is no way out. This impact may emit a sense of the unattain-able, but it also radiates the artist's vision of the sublime.

The journey continues subjectively. History is carried on by the individual but is constantly clad in its invisible veil. The questions that have no answers, the gestures that find neither response nor consummation, the actions that produce no results, the pursuit of harmony that is never won. Everything is incomprehensible and desolate, therefore the sadness of a constant, inexpressible loss, the longing for a paradise that never was. And yet... A journey that perpetually begins, a perpetual farewell, but also a perpetual mourning process (in the psychoanalytical sense) quite literally the work of mourning. The work is the making of the film, the long shots, the liberation from the gaol of sadness, with the creation and the work of art, the film-gift. And the cycle begins again, painful, persistent and purifying - for an Eternity and a day, his last film (unknown to us as we write this text) which was just screened in the Cannes Film Festival.

Advisor to the Minister of Culture Film Critic

"Angelopoulos can be counted as one of the few filmmakers in cinema's first hundred years who compel us to redefine what we feel cinema is and can be."

"In Greece, it is said, common people love and speak poetry. Angelopoulos, very uncommonly, finds poetry in corruption, betrayal, and witness: in children estranged from their father, in a country estranged from its heritage, in love's paralysis, the impossibility of art, the mists of death... above all, in the rich and resonant silence around him: that silence of history, of the land, of the mountains, ocean, and sky... all viewed with the fixed gaze through which, like Conrad, he finally makes us see."

"One is not surprised that there should appear in Greece a film director for whom poetry and philosophy are one, for whom knowledge enlivens aesthetic perceptions, for whom, finally, cinema is at once an interrogation and an affirmation. But it is beautiful that an artist is able at the same time to sing about the world and to question it."

"History and power are in the center of his universe, where the harms of all kinds of totalitarian ideology are clearly manifest. However, the ironic wisdom avoids didacticism in favor of a personal poetic medication, an evocative epic and lyrical reflection on the history of Greece."

Theo Angelopoulos is widely regarded as one of the most distinctive contemporary filmmakers and a highly idiosyncratic film stylist. His work, from the early 1970s to The Beekeeper, Landscape in the Mist, The Suspended Step of the Stalk and the recent Cannes prize-winner Ulysses' Gaze, demonstrates a unique sensibility and a preoccupation with form (notably, the long take, space, and time) and with content, particularly Greek politics and history, and notions of the journey, border-crossing, and exile. This new collection of essays surveys his entire cinematic output and presents a discussion of his major films, themes, and concerns. The contributors argue that Angelopoulos' sustained oeuvre has kept alive the tradition of postwar modernism--the cinema of Antonioni, Jancso, and Ozu--in the largely hostile environment of the 1980s and 1990s. A major work for students and researchers on contemporary European film. "The Last Modernist's strength lies in its melange of critical thought. The seven essays and one interview present compelling judgments about Andropoulos's art, and the cultural, historical, and political processes that it involves.... essential reading."

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