In the hot plains of central Greece, the Orthodox monasteries of Meteora are perched atop sandstone pillars, suspended between heaven and earth. Down in the valley, the eternal cycles of farm life – birth, milking, slaughter – provide a stark contrast to their ascetic world. The young monk Theodoros and the nun Urania have devoted their lives to the strict rituals and practices of their community. A growing affection for one another puts their monastic life under question. Torn between spiritual devotion and their human desire, they must decide which path to follow. Continue reading
Greece, 1654. A seriously wounded Janissary arrives at a cloister situated on a cliff, and the sisters take him in and care for him. Sister Anthi, one of those who tends him, falls in love with the soldier and eventually helps him escape. The central focus of the film does not come out of its historical context but is derived from the relationship between the two main characters and, above all, from the quest for freedom and identity for young Anthi. The initially silent sister, hiding a surprising secret, discovers heretofore unknown desires that lead her to a radically altered view of herself. Continue reading
A sergeant meets Evdokia, a prostitute, and marries her. The harsh light, the rocks, the barren landscape, and the strenuous military training on the one hand, sexuality and prohibition on the other. The environment has a negative effect on the young couple’s relationship and the sergeant will try to free himself of their bond. Linked in a common fate that governs their lives, the two lovers rebel against a social system which is more powerful than they are. The heroes of the film are living on the borderline of a surrealist world which is typically Greek and where absurdity constitutes an everyday element of reality. This is a key film on modern Greek society and one of the most important works of Greek cinema.
In Greece, the film is mostly known for the popular instrumental piece “Zeibekiko of Evdokia”, written by Manos Loizos. Continue reading
Angelopoulos moves his forces like a juggernaut to stage formidable set-pieces, coups de thιβtre that impress with their vast scale without necessarily engaging our emotions. In his most remarkable feat, he constructs a low-lying town in a dry lakebed only to drown it for a spectacular inundation. There follows a floating funeral on a water-borne raft, players posed beside the open coffin, as a flotilla of boats proceeds with a flourish of black flags. Prows part the water as the camera glides ahead, like a courtier preparing the way, but a sudden change of angle confronts us with a massive phalanx of figures reflected in the floodwater, with blue sky streaking the top of the frame. Continue reading
Eternity And A Day traces the final days of Alexandre (Bruno Ganz), a celebrated Greek writer who is terminally ill, as he prepares to leave his seaside home forever. While packing, he finds a letter from his long-dead wife, Anna (Isabelle Renauld), who wrote about an enchanted summer day they spent thirty years ago. From that point, Alexandre embarks on a mystical journey through his past and present. Continue reading
One of the most beautiful, poetic films ever made. The opening scenes are pure, unbeatable art. Rather than the unwinding of the complex narrative itself, it is the visual power of the images that Angelopoulos offers us that make this work so disturbing and beautiful. You have to watch the film as a series of paintings, poems, installations and performances rather than a conventional movie. The acting is superb, especially Harvey Keitel’s performance, one of the best that this great actor has ever delivered. Especially memorable is the scene in which an old woman is taken for a ride to her hometown in Macedonia by Keitel. The woman left Macedonia before the advent of Communism and is now returning to her country for the first time in decades. Since her absence, her place has been transformed in a nightmarish communist city, filled with gray, impersonal, concrete buildings. We see the woman helpless and bewildered in an environment that she no longer recognizes, while Keitel goes away. A powerful metaphor of the fast and tremendous transformations suffered by the Balkans during the 20th century. Continue reading
Kinetta. A defunct Greek resort town, inhabited during the off-season by migrant workers. A plain-clothes cop, with a passion for automobiles, tape recorders and Russian women, investigates a series of recent murders in the area. He enlists the help of a photo-store clerk, a loner type who is a part-time videographer, and a young hotel maid, who will be performing the role of the female victims. This oddball trio engages in a succession of murder re-enactments, directed by the cop with exhaustive attention to detail but questionable scientific purpose.
“Something of a hybrid between Tsai Ming-liang’s eccentric, temp morts snapshots of human idiosyncrasy crossed with the glacially paced visual abstraction of Sharunas Bartas by way of Philippe Grandrieux’s murky, destabilized, and defocused gaze”