Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Original title: Mia Aioniotita Kai Mia Mera
Greece/France/ Germany/Italy, 1998. Paradis Films, Intermédias, La Sept Cinéma, Canal+, Classic, Istituto Luce, Greek Film Center, Greek Television ET-1, Westdeutscher Rundfunk, ARTE, Cineguild Entertainment Group. Story by Theodoros Angelopoulos, Screenplay by Theodoros Angelopoulos, Tonino Guerra, Petro Markaris. Cinematography by Giorgos Arvanitis, Andreas Sinanos. Produced by Theodoros Angelopoulos, Eric Heumann, Amedeo Pagani, Giorgio Silvagni. Music by Eleni Karaindrou. Production Design by Costas Dimitriadis, Giorgos Ziakas. Costume Design by Giorgos Patsas. Film Editing by Yannis Tsitsopoulos. Cannes Film Festival 1998. Toronto International Film Festival 1998.
God forbid Theo Angelopoulos should ever make a movie that doesn’t follow a quiet man in a grey trenchcoat; and God forbid that I should complain when a film of his isn’t confusing enough, but that was, oddly, the feeling that this film inspired. Bruno Ganz (strangely cast and dubbed in Greek) has discovered that he is terminally ill and decides to walk away from life completely, attempting to say goodbye to his daughter before going on a “trip” from which he won’t return. Life calls him back into the fray when he crosses paths with an Albanian orphan whom he saves from human traffickers, and puts him on a journey whose experiences take him back in his memories to the times he shared with his late wife. It’s about as beautifully conceived and smoothly filmed as Angelopoulos’ films always are, this one featuring gorgeous photography of Greek islands that belies the cold, northern climates that the auteur usually favours. Its lighter tone also leaves it devoid of the dramatic resonance that made The Suspended Step Of The Stork so very good, with Ganz failing to connect with the audience thanks to bad dubbing, and his relationship with the ghost of his wife amounting to very little as she’s too much of a symbol and not a character in her own right. It might be the most accessible and least frustrating of Angelopoulos’ works, generally easy to follow and satisfying in its conclusion. By this point, however, after enduring four hours of Travelling Players and staring endlessly at Ulysses’ Gaze, we are better prepared for a challenge and disappointed to not be given one.