Theo Angelopoulos: The Philosopher of Film Gazing at His Homeland Through the Fog

  ”Let the passing of time become poetic”, this is the artistic belief of Greek national treasure film director Theo Angelopoulos. Some people call Angelopoulos the poet of film and philosopher of the screen, and it is really appropriate. In his films, there is always a strong poetic feeling. Monotonous colors, dark and damp environment, depressing and sad melody, endless wandering, and fruitless pursuit constitute the tragic tone of Angelopoulos’ films. However, in this ubiquitous tragic atmosphere, Angelopoulos showed his own understanding and expression of human nature and the external world from the perspective of modern people’s survival, leading the audience to think more deeply about time and history. and life.
  Angelopoulos was born on April 27, 1935 in Athens, Greece, which has a splendid civilization and a long history. His father was a shopkeeper and his mother was a typical housewife. During the German occupation of Greece in World War II, Angelopoulos’ father was arrested by the German army for being a liberal. After his father was taken away by the German army, he began to write poetry for the first time to relieve his sorrow. The poems of the Greek poets Sephiris and Cavafy had a great influence on him. The experience of reading and writing poems had an important impact on Angelopoulos’s later film concepts, making his films contain poetic flavors full of philosophical meaning. Later, his father was sentenced to death, and Angelopoulos saw his father being guillotined. This incident left an indelible trauma in his young mind, which directly affected the theme of “seeking roots” that he relentlessly pursued in his later movies. After the end of World War II, another civil war broke out in Greece. After the civil war, Angelopoulos studied law in Athens and spent all his spare time watching movies. It was during this period that Angelopoulos saw the opposite He deeply influenced the French director Godard’s film “Exhaustion”. Because of military service, Angelopoulos did not receive a law degree in Athens. After completing his military service, Angelopoulos moved to Paris, France with his parents. Angelopoulos, who has always been obsessed with the shock caused by “Exhaustion”, decided to study literature, film studies and anthropology at the Sorbonne University in Paris. In 1961, he first studied at the Sorbonne University in France, and then transferred to the French Film School, but was expelled from the school because of a dispute with the professor’s views. In the summer of 1964, Angelopoulos returned to Athens from Paris. At this time, during the violent dictatorship of the Greek military government, Angelopoulos clashed with the police in Athens. This incident made Angelopoulos decide to stay in Athens. He wanted to experience the suffering that politics brought to the people. On the recommendation of a friend, he went to the leftist newspaper “Democratic Power” to write film reviews. Later, the “Democratic Force” was seized by the military government. He came together with several Greek New Wave directors and cooperated to make a film that escaped political censorship. After two years, he made a 23-minute work “Propagation , which was Angelopoulos’s first film. In 1970, after traveling around Greece, Angelopoulos decided to shoot his feature film debut “Reconstruction”. “Reconstruction” tells about the state of the people and the trial process after a murder case occurred in a mountain village in Greece. The film won the International Film Critics Award in the “Director’s Fortnight” of the Cannes Film Festival at that time, and was hailed as the first film in Greek film history to describe Greek society with great ambition. Angelopoulos’ career as a director
  In 1972, 1975 and 1977, Angelopoulos successively filmed “The Years of 1936”, “The Wandering Artist” and “The Hunter”, which are known as the “Greek Trilogy”. “The Years of 1936” won the International Film Critics Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 1973. The film is adapted from the assassination of a trade union activist in 1935. At that time, Greece was in a period of military dictatorship. The conflict between the Conservative Party, which had achieved the restoration of the monarchy, and the Greek Communist Party, which had the support of the trade union people, was irreconcilable, and the society was in turmoil. “The Wandering Artist” won both the New Film Forum Award at the Berlin Film Festival and the International Film Critics Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1975. Through the various experiences of a wandering troupe performing folk plays in various parts of Greece, the film shows the social state of Greece in the violent shock of the two world wars and the civil war. “Hunter” is based on a social news in Greece in the late 1970s. A group of farmers in a village in Macedonia found a body on the snow. The deceased was a guerrilla exiled in Eastern Europe after the Greek Civil War. He risked stealing The danger of crossing the border, going through hardships and wanting to return to his hometown, but died of exhaustion on the journey. The film was nominated for best film at the Cannes Film Festival in 1977 and won the first prize at the Chicago Film Festival in 1978. The “Greek Trilogy” focuses on social reality, describing and thinking about the struggle of group consciousness in social turmoil. The artistic achievements of the trilogy established Angelopoulos’ status in the international film industry. In 1980, Angelopoulos collaborated with Italian and German film companies to shoot the film “Alexander the Great” about a communist utopia in an almost mythical way. One of the sources of inspiration for the film is the real historical story, namely the Dilesi massacre in 1870: a group of British nobles and diplomatic officials were hijacked by bandits in Dilesi on their way home from visiting historical sites, and the Greek government was subject to protection. They tried their best to negotiate at any ransom, but in the end no agreement was reached, so the bandits massacred all the hostages. The entire massacre exposed the decline of the Greek regime, and it also made the British take advantage of the fire with the excuse of revenge by force, demanding a monopoly on Greek mining, and the local landlord class in Greece also provoked conflicts between the government and the bandits in the incident, trying to profit from it. The ugliness and despicability of various political aspects are clearly exposed in this incident. Angelopoulos expressed his concern and thinking about the current situation of Greek society from the perspective of modern people on the basis of historical facts. The film won the Venice Film Golden Lion Award and the Film Critics Award that year.
  From 1984 to 1988, Angelopoulos filmed the “Silence Trilogy” with the sense of finding his father-“Journey to Seyser Island”, “Beekeeper” and “Landscape in the Fog”. It expresses the personal identity of the modern Greeks after experiencing political turmoil and historical trauma, and their search for life consciousness in faith and national tradition. Among them, “Landscape in the Fog” has attracted widespread attention in the international film circle for its fairy-tale beauty, and won the Silver Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival in 1988 and the Best Film Award at the European Film Festival in 1989. The “Silent Trilogy” became a watershed moment in Angelopoulos’ creation. Before that, his films described how people were trapped in historical changes. After that, his films focused on presenting inner and outer exile.
  ”Landscape in the Fog” is a tragic work of Angelopoulos with the theme of wandering and seeking. The 12-year-old sister Ula and the 5-year-old brother Alexander learned from their mother that their father was in Germany. Although this was just a lie made up by their mother, the siblings believed it was true and took the express night train bound for Germany to find Alexander. The father I dreamed of every night. Later they learned from their uncle that they were illegitimate children, but the stubborn Ula refused to accept this fact, so she took her younger brother and continued on the road of finding her father. Because he didn’t have a ticket, he was kicked off the train by the conductor. Coupled with their uncle’s unwillingness to help, they were forced to continue this journey on foot that was destined to have no end. On a mountain road in a small town, they were lucky enough to hitch a ride from Oresti, a staff member of the troupe, and a sincere friendship began. But when they walked on the road again and boarded a truck, things no longer went smoothly. Ula was brutally raped by the truck driver, and then they returned to Oresty’s side. But on the night of departure for Germany, Ula found out that Oreste was a gay man. She took her brother from the bar to the train station and arrived at the German border by car. Soldiers on the border spotted them. At the end, the siblings woke up in a heavy fog, and the younger brother chanted the creation myth of “Genesis” in the “Bible”. The two walked to a big tree, as if they had returned to the Garden of Eden. “Landscape in the Fog” uses the tragic experience of two children to make a painful indictment of modern Greek society, politics, and the ugly appearance of people’s hearts. It seems that only in the foggy paradise after death can the dream be fulfilled, which is very touching. sad.

  Angelopoulos filmed “Cranes and Birds Wandering” in 1991, and launched an exploration of the theme of national border issues and ethnic differences. A politician leaves Parliament from his home and disappears without a trace. Journalist Gregory Karr was reporting on migrants and refugees stuck at the border when he came across a man in the crowd that looked a lot like the missing politician. He also found a small town that was divided into two by a river as a border line, and saw a surreal wedding, with the bride and family on one side of the river, and the groom with relatives and friends on the other. That person has never been identified, and those unfortunate refugees and the divided village have taught Gregory Karr to understand his desperation for sophistication. In 1995, Angelopoulos created “The Gaze of Ulysses” to commemorate the centenary of the film. The story mainly tells that the protagonist is a Greek-American. Return to the hometown and look for the place where life begins. He told his companions about the years he had spent here, nostalgic and sad. In particular, seeing the scene of the believers parading with torches brought back his memories of the brutal war. Finally, he decided to escape. It was snowing heavily, so he asked for a taxi and promised to take an old man back to his hometown to have a look. However, the devastated war ruins left the elderly homeless. The car broke down in the snow, and he could only board the train and move on. In Sarajevo, accompanied by the curator of the film museum, he failed to find a silent film, but fell in love with the curator’s daughter at first sight. He entered the social circle with a high profile, but found that the place had been soaked in the culture of the former Soviet Union, and the melody of “Katyusha” was sung everywhere. He had witnessed the removal of the statue of Lenin, and he was filled with mixed emotions. The film takes a Greek director across borders looking for lost filmstrips as the main line. It reviews the director’s previous creative themes and raises questions about the development of film art. It won the Cannes Film Festival Jury Special Award and the International Film Critics Award. In 1998, Angelopoulos won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival with “Eternity and One Day”. Through this film, the director tried to answer the long-standing proposition about wandering and searching. The speculation on life and time in the film is a farewell to the past of personal existence and a declaration of a new journey.
  ”Eternity and One Day” revolves around the story between an old writer Alexander suffering from cancer and a child. Alexander accidentally rescued a child from Albania. On the journey to send him back to his grandmother, the old writer kept reminiscing about his past. The child casts a spell on Alexander, who ends up seeing his dead wife in amazement. The film is full of oracular revelations, with companions playing in the sea and his mother calling his name from home, echoing the ending. The themes of this film are deep and rich. The old poet wants to find the roots of language and culture, but he always ignores the needs of his mother and wife. His loneliness is actually caused by the lack of emotion rather than the lack of vocabulary. Give me this day!” The “Alexander!” yelled by his mother has long been a deeply ingrained language in his heart. In this film, Angelopoulos not only has an attempt to find cultural roots and rebuild, but he is more concerned about the return of lost humanity.
  In 2004, “The Weeping Grassland” came out. The film tells the rough journey of a Greek exile couple. From the period of the Soviet Civil War in 1919, to the return and settlement from Odessa in Ukraine to the end of the Greek Civil War in 1949, the couple experienced half a year. century of turmoil. First they were driven out of their hometown during the Russian Revolution, and then they were persecuted as political prisoners. They fled continuously and spent a life of wandering. Angelopoulos, the film philosopher, once again started his poetic artistic exploration with the theme of Greek history. In 2008, Angelopoulos filmed “The Dust of Time”. The film tells the moving story of a pair of life-and-death lovers who have gone through the turmoil of the historical background. It mainly focuses on the memories of the past years. Bring out the eternal propositions of history and life, individual and world, war and human nature. In the slow rhythm of Angelopoulos’ pictures, we see three steles of his lifelong focus: time, life, and history. The same scene, similar characters, familiar atmosphere, similar music melody… Angelopoulos’ works are like the continuous development and variation of the same piece of music. Road, rain, snow, fog, children, old people, poetry, long journey, return. These concrete or abstract images and themes reflect his unique artistic pursuit and personal thinking.
  Angelopoulos once said in an interview with the media: “God gives people their own death, and each death has its own inevitability, rhythm, and feeling. If I am lucky enough to choose my own death, I am willing to die in the In the process of filming.” As a prophecy, on January 25, 2012, in the port city of Piraeus near Athens, Angelopoulos was knocked down by an off-duty policeman riding a motorcycle, resulting in brain injury. He was bleeding profusely, and died a few hours after being sent to the hospital. Not far from the place where the accident happened is the filming location of the movie “Another Ocean” he is shooting.
  ”Here I am, on my journey. Most of my wasted years, between the frenzied years of war – still trying to learn the language of images. Every attempt is a new beginning and a different one failure.” This is Angelopoulos’ artistic belief. For Angelopoulos, cinema is a gaze at an era, or more precisely, a gaze at time. No other art form captures the passage of time better than film, yet preserves it, allowing it to repeat itself over and over again. In fact, Angelopoulos’ films are not just autobiographical films. To be more precise, he combines a deeper and more complex cultural dimension, surpasses the detailed description of personal experience and life anecdotes, and constructs a full-bodied film full of personality. full of poetic space-time. Angelopoulos thinks about film in a philosophical way, captures humanity with philosophy, and sculpts the passing time with poetry.

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