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With Ulysses' Gaze

· Greek film maker Theo Angelopoulos dies in a street accident ·

It is truly symbolic that the death of Theo Angelopoulos happened on the same day that an artist once very personal like Marin Scorsese was celebrated by the Academy for a product, bowing slavishly to any technological innovations within the industry.

The great Greek director worked at the other extreme. He seemed to enjoy going against the fashion, even too much, enough to attract constant criticism. Such was the case with The Beekeeper (1986), a film inaugurating his long partnership with Tonino Guerra, or Eternity and a day (1998),

but secured him the Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, confirming how difficult it is to put his films in a box.

One can say that in almost all cases his tone is extremely contemplative, that narrative rhythm, slower than life, which made it difficult for the general public, it was definitely not the manner of a surly and old fashioned author.

The most precious legacy of his work continues to be the capacity to travel along that ever so subtle line between self and world, to know how to tell the story of a people through the interior life of a single hero. Take Ulysses' gaze (1995), the story of an exiled film maker who returns to Greece to search for the Country's first film. He pursues his illusion through the Balkans, war-torn and lost in the aftermath of other illusions. This film becomes a journey in which personal and collective memory intertwine.

In that sense, Angelopoulos became the spokesman of a generation in claiming the right to a story, and in denouncing the aberrations that deprive people of it. Only in this way did he end up resembling some of his fellow countrymen, in a place where belonging to Europe's nouvelle vagues was little more than a chronological coincidence and the work of Brecht was an elective affinity at which the director arrived on other ways, strictly cinematic. Like this, his famous use of long sequence shots ended up incidentally making his film coincide with the theatre. Indeed, it is in the theatre that The travelling players (1975) caught the attention of European critics. On the stage the classical tragedy and the vicissitudes of the Greek people are woven together.

Though perhaps not necessarily the best known, the stories of traveling, fleeing, searching, migrating, are the most representative of the great Greek artist. And the hint of travel was already coming from the title of his latest film, in the process of being made, The other sea , of which little is known. We know at least that it was the story of a father and daughter, and that it was about the new generation, maybe about the new people in the grip of current events.

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July 23, 2019

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