Thursday 6 December 2012

Ulysses' Gaze [1995]

Ulysses’ Gaze, the second chapter in his “Trilogy of Borders”, can be seen as a culmination of Theo’s body of work. Aesthetically challenging, deliberately paced, inherently ambiguous and metaphorical, and clocking at nearly 3 hours – this might not make for easy viewing, but a satisfying one nonetheless for those accustomed to Theo’s style. A Greek filmmaker (Hervey Keitel), residing in the US for long, has returned to his country of origin purportedly to screen a movie of his. But the real reason for his homecoming is to unearth three undeveloped reels by the pioneering Greek filmmakers, the Manakis brothers. And thus begins an audacious and fascinating journey – a journey that is as deeply spiritual as it is excruciatingly physical – during the height of the devastating Balkan War. The journey, moving seamlessly between past, present and alternate realities, also takes him back to the days of his long-lost childhood. In one astounding sequence, the changing fortunes of his family, over the course of a number of years, are shown in a single-take. The most unforgettable moment in the film, though, would easily be the transportation of a gigantic statue of Lenin through Danube. The thematically complex film, therefore, was as much a lamentation over the horrors of war, as it was an elegy on history, memory, time and lost innocence. The hauntingly beautiful images and the melancholic score made this a ravishing audio-visual experience as well. Keitel distinctly looked like an outsider in the film, which, methinks, was Theo’s intent on casting him in the first place. It also had Maria Morgenstern portraying three distinctly different ladies, and the Swedish thespian Erland Josephson in a small but vital role.

Director: Theo Angelopoulos
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Political Drama/Road Movie
Language: Greek/English
Country: Greece

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