Thursday, 8 November 2012

Days of '36 [1972]

Days of ’36, Angelopoulos’ second film and the first chapter in his ‘Trilogy of History’ (which also comprised of The Traveling Players and The Hunters), was by far the smallest film in terms of both duration and scope. In fact, though thematically linked, stylistically it was very different from them. Unlike the following two films, which were sprawling and complex chronicles of contemporary Greek history, this was a tightly bound political thriller set during the volatile Metaxas regime. Allegedly based on an actual event, the film concerns a political prisoner accused of assassinating a trade union leader during a public rally and awaiting trial, who holds an influential advocate hostage after getting utterly frustrated of voicing his innocence and demanding a fair trial. This audacious attempt by the convict results in a national calamity of sorts as the delicately held government becomes divided right through the middle as to what its response ought to be – i.e. whether or not to give in to his demands. Theo’s love for marvelous scene constructions through gently roving long takes, which would be used to jaw-dropping effects in the following two films, was noticeable here as well, as also his panache for distancing himself from the players, leisurely pacing, and long stretches of silence. The film was also filled with a number of memorable asides and moments – the failed escape attempt by a the inmates, playing of a song on a hired gramophone for the kidnapper, etc. – that did a fine job in adding to the sense of doom, paranoia, confusion and hopelessness that defined the country in general as well during that era.

Director: Theo Angelopoulos
Genre: Thriller/Political Thriller
Language: Greek
Country: Greece


Sam Juliano said...

Yep, another in this essential trilogy I need to see, and again you have attended it with your typical economic insights.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. Interestingly, this might seem as quite removed from the general feel (particularly in terms of tone & stylistic choices) that one associates with Theo. So yes, do give it a try.