Thursday, January 13, 2011

Waiting for Angelopoulos

"We are past and present at the same time. History is not something that happened once and was lost forever. When we ignore it we are incapable of understanding the present. How can someone comment on what's happening today without relating it to what happended yesetrday or many years ago".
Theo Angelopouos
The Australian film distribution network is not kind to those of us who are fans of the Greek film director Theo Angelopoulos, whose most recent film The Dust of Time is still not available in Australia, some two years after its European release.

Angelopoulos is not well known in Australia, although a few of his earlier films, including Ulysses Gaze, Eternity and a Day and The Travelling Players can be found on the shelves of a few specialist video stores.

The Dust of Time is the second film of an Angelopoulos trilogy (the first was the 2004 film The Weeping Meadow) which explores the sweep of 20th century history through the lives and struggles of ordinary people caught up in larger political and historical events.

These are familiar themes in Angelopoulos's films. His films speculate on the connection between the past (history) and the present, and they speak of the personal and collective wounds, experienced in the present, that have their orgins in political, military and social events of the past. He is one of a few filmakers willing to explore large historical themes and profound questions about human existence and social and political life.

His film Ulysses Gaze is for me his masterpiece. Harvey Keitel plays a Greek born American filmmaker  whose search through the Balkans for a lost film from the WWI era provides the vehicle for Angelopoulos to explore the troubled history of the Balkans, ending at the siege of Sarajevo in the 1990's. Ulysses Gaze won a number of awards at  International Film Festivals in the mid 1990's, although Angelopoulos was outraged that it failed to win the top prize at the Cannes Festival.

Whilst I await for the Australian release of The Dust of Time I can console myself by listening to the film's soundtrack by Angelopoulos's long time collaborator Eleni Karaindrou, who for two decades has scored Angelopoulos's films. Karaindrou continues with her tradition of blending traditional Greek music and instrumentation with classically inspired ensembles and symphony orchestras.

No comments: