The Films of Theo Angelopoulos: A Cinema of Contemplation by Andrew Horton

By Andrew Horton

Greek movie director Theo Angelopoulos is among the such a lot influential and generally revered filmmakers on the planet this day, but his movies are nonetheless mostly unknown to the yankee public. within the first e-book in English to target Angelopoulos's distinctive cinematic imaginative and prescient, Andrew Horton offers an illuminating contextual research that makes an attempt to illustrate the quintessentially Greek nature of the director's paintings. Horton situates the director within the context of over 3,000 years of Greek tradition and historical past. a bit like Andrei Tarkovsky in Russia or Antonioni in Italy, Angelopoulos has used cinema to discover the historical past and person identities of his tradition. With such far-reaching impacts as Greek delusion, old tragedy and epic, Byzantine iconography and rite, Greek and Balkan heritage, glossy Greek popular culture together with bouzouki tune, shadow puppet theater, and the Greek tune corridor culture, Angelopoulos emerges as an unique "thinker" with the digital camera, and a particular director who's guaranteed to make a long-lasting contribution to the paintings form.

In a chain of movies together with The traveling Players, Voyage to Cythera, Landscape within the Mist, The Suspended Step of the Stork, and such a lot lately in Ulysses' Gaze starring Harvey Keitel (winner of the 1995 Cannes movie competition Grand Prix), Angelopoulos has built a impressive cinematic variety, characterised by way of conscientiously composed scenes and an incredible variety of prolonged lengthy pictures. In an age of ever lowering cognizance spans, Angelopoulos bargains a cinema of contemplation.

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The actual murder in Reconstruction occurs inside the house while we focus on the exterior. The rape of the young girl, Voula, in Landscape in the Mist occurs inside the back of the truck while we remain outside by the highway. Angelopoulos did not have to work with his classical past. As a film­ maker and thus as a storyteller, he could easily have opted to construct narratives that completely avoided any allusions to or reflections of a classical past. But he has not chosen to do so. Clearly he feels very strongly that he is not j ust a filmmaker but a Greek filmmaker.

Theo Angelopoulos 19 20 INTRODUCTION After the Greek civil war, Angelopoulos studied law a t the University of Athens from 1 953 to 1 957. He also wrote poems in a romantic vein influenced by Byron and later by George Seferis and Constantine Cavafy ( see chapter 1 ) . After his military service ( 1 959-1 960), he went to Paris in 1 9 6 1 and studied with Claude Levi-Strauss at the Sorbonne. He next en­ tered IDHEC, the French film academy, from which he claims he was expelled for arguing with one of his professors.

Angelopoulos's similar debt to the Byzantine Orthodox iconic tradi­ tion is not apparent immediately. But like the overall effect of his films, it 28 CULTURE, H I STORY , CINEMA emerges quietly yet steadily for those aware of the tradition. Let us focus on its contribution to The Travelling Players. Consider the framing of the traveling players (fig. 2) by Angelopoulos alongside the Byzantine mosaics from Palermo and the Cathedral of Cefalu of Christ Pantocrator. Of course superficially the film and the mo­ saics are a study in contrast: the mosaics are depictions of spiritual power while the traveling players appear as simple folk of simple means.

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