While we see many classic movies issued on DVDs, certain cinematic masterpieces are not yet available in our digital era. This unfortunate list of omissions includes films by the unique Greek director Theo Angelopoulos, co-founder of the European Film Academy and a living classic: The Traveling Players (1975), Landscape in the Mist (1988) and The Ulysses' Gaze (1995).
As the seminal French New Wave ended, only Angelopoulos was able to offer an innovative approach to cinema, along with unsurpassed cinematic images based on Hellenic myths. A legend of the European cinema, Angelopoulos attributes his success to a very special time, a revolutionary era that has passed never to come back.
Theo Angelopoulos was born in 1936 and started out in the movie industry as a critic. He made his first movie in 1963. A pro-Communist leftist, he picked up his early awards for passionate films in which he meticulously reconstructed real-life events, investigated a crime and, later, delved into the metaphysical essence of being and the symbolism of Ancient Greek mythology.
The Traveling Players (1975), The Hunters (1977), and Alexander the Great (1980) gained him worldwide recognition, along with awards at international film festivals in Cannes, Chicago, and Venice.
Below, the director whose very name movie connoisseurs pronounce with a sense of awe speaks to DE I while preparing to shoot his new film - luckily for us - in Russia.
- I started with poetry. I published my first poems when I was 16. I had always thought I would become a poet or a novelist.
- All Greeks write poetry, but good poems are few and far in between. Generally, the Greeks are very strange people. Their roots, and their past and future are in Odyssey. They always want to emigrate, and, when they’ve gone, they long for Greece.
- Homer was a brilliant scriptwriter, much better than Hollywood scribes are. He came up with a happy end to what - according to various versions of the myth - was a tragic story. In his poem, Odyssey came back, found his Penelope and lived happily ever after.
- I lived through a very turbulent period of Greek history. When I was five, the Nazis occupied my country. When I was nine, a civil war broke out in Athens. My family was split into two parts, and my blood relatives ended up fighting one another on the different sides of the barricades. Those events gave me a very personal material.
- Once I decided never to return to Greece. I came back to visit my parents, immediately found myself in the middle of a demonstration and was brutalized by the police for no reason. Therefore, I decided to stay, check things out and understand what was going on. There was something in the air at that time, something we call “spirit of freedom.”
- One’s influences are not important; what matters is that he or she can speak their own artistic language. If this does not happen, the person’s creative experience can never translate into poetic material.
- My movies never have an ending; I never even use the phrase “THE END” as the film comes to a halt. Each of my films is what they call «a work in progress» in English… If I were to express my artistic work in a nutshell, I would say that I know literally two, maybe three things, about myself and about the world.
- This profession is very special: when you go out to the stage, all the maladies stop, even toothache.
- Today a very new kind of audience came to the cinema and theatre. Let me be not the judge but the healer of the audience. There is the audience that is tired of cataclysms and engaging in self-defense. In addition, there are people who had never come to theaters before and only visited casinos. It is a pity that the time when every play was an attempt to say the truth about Soviet politics in form of a fable, is over. People would stand in queues on winter nights, setting fire to keep warm. This is definitely not what the modern audience wants. However, we are still the helpers in social development, it is not by occasion that the theater is called the “Temple of Arts”. Just as church heals souls, the theater should do likewise.
- I can state it straight that I lie down to sleep and I wake up with a blessing to my destiny and to God for everything that happened in my life. It is this awe and human gratitude are very important, they save you of many dangers. I analyze my life and I understand that everything that has not happened is something I never needed.
© DE I / DESILLUSIONIST #06. “THEO ANGELOPOULOS: VERDICT TO DIRECTORSY”