Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
Original title: Trilogia 1: To Livadi Pou Dakryzei
France/Greece/Italy/Germany, 2004. Theo Angelopoulos Films, Greek Film Center, Hellenic Radio & Television, Attica Art Productions, Bac Films, Intermédias, Arte France Cinéma, Classic, ZDF/Arte, Canal+, Istituto Luce, Rai Cinema, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen, Eurimages, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali. Story by Theodoros Angelopoulos, Screenplay by Theodoros Angelopoulos, Tonino Guerra, Petros Markaris, Giorgio Silvagni. Cinematography by Andreas Sinanos. Produced by Theodoros Angelopoulos, Reinhold Elschot, Peter Nadermann, Meinolf Zurhorst. Music by Eleni Karaindrou. Production Design by Kostas Lambropoulos. Costume Design by Ioulia Stavridou. Film Editing by Giorgos Triandafyllou. Toronto International Film Festival 2004.
Theo Angelopoulos is one of the most powerful and challenging filmmakers in world cinema, and this first part of what was a highly anticipated trilogy shows him at the top of his form; sadly, he was filming the third entry when he died after being hit by a car. The aim of the three films was to describe the turbulent history of Greece from 1919 to the present, all told through the human adventure of one woman named Eleni (from which the country derives its name). She arrives in Greece as a toddler with her adoptive family after the Greeks of Odessa are driven out of Russia, then grows up to fall in love with her adoptive brother. She runs away with him after her forced marriage to her adoptive father, setting into action a long line of sometimes melancholy, sometimes wholly tragic experiences that end just after the Greek Civil war that followed World War II. Filmed with Angelopoulos’s trademark long takes and quiet atmosphere, the film is enriched by beautiful music, hypnotic cinematography and a fascinating story. The characters are much easier to connect to than in the director’s most famous film (at least in North America), Ulysses’s Gaze, and the story much more involving. Those completely unfamiliar with Greek politics might find the story a bit confusing at first, but eventually it will make itself clear to you.