An Eternal Odyssey: The Complete Theo Angelopoulos

Human destiny. [...]

Human destiny. Eternal return. Flowing in the vein of Theo Angelopoulos (1935-2012), the accents of these themes reign over all his works in variations and fugues. In a life of cinematic odyssey, he navigated distinctive aesthetics of myth and empathy, transposing us into a deep exploration and contemplation of exile, displacement and homecoming – a national and personal journey that fated to never end.

His early childhood memories innately reflect a broader national trauma. The agonising experience of searching for a missing, or even non-existent, father becomes a metaphorical concept in his work, from Journey to Cythera to Landscape in the Mist, that evokes the effects of war, emigration, and authoritarian society on families and communities. Simultaneously a tribute to and a reincarnation of the Greek epic poem, the emotional odyssey is also a yearning for reconnecting with the cultural past, while contemplating self-identity, artistic pursuit and ideological disillusionment, as seen through the characters of Alexander, or simply “A”, in Ulysses’ Gaze, Eternity and a Day and The Dust of Time.

Deeply immersed in Hellenic culture, his films are coded with classical references, transfiguring Byzantine images and mythical personalities in Greek Tragedy to probe the roots of contemporary Greek society. Like the travelling players who live through the turbulent times of the 20th century, the last modernist sought to capture the human toll of its tragic legacy, in his monumental fusion of history, myth and memory that is incisive and deeply moving.

An epic poet of the cinema, Angelopoulos redefined the slow pan, the long take and tracking shots through his magisterial elliptical style, spatial coexistence and languidly unfolding narratives, providing “more freedom” for viewers to ponder upon his historical and political allegories. Failed idealism articulated through the elegiac image of Lenin’s dismantled statue; transcendence across borders conjured by the line of yellow jacketed refugees on the telephone poles; or dreams of hope evoked in the lone tree in the mist – all these emblematic imageries of poetic realism encapsulate Angelopoulos’ distinctive gaze of estrangement, and vision of redemption.

The sudden arrival of the Angel of Death left his odyssey to The Other Sea unfinished. Yet, nothing ever ends. The end is where he starts from.

PS As if living through the journey, the cancellation of our first quarter programme is to make a new beginning. We go with films that have their own lives: see, they return, and bring us with them.

Special thanks to Theo Angelopoulos Film Production and Theo Angelopoulos family.