• Obituary for Theo Angelopoulos (1935 – 2012)

  • By Aliki Kosyfologou | 29 Feb 12
  • Theodore Angelopoulos was the son of a Greek civil war hostage who returned home when Angelopoulos was 9 years old. The absence of his parent and the sense that a great part of the Greek society was left “voiceless” marked his childhood irreparably and had a huge impact on his cinematography establishing its autobiographical character.

    In his first full-length movie, The Representation (1970), Angelopoulos expresses his deep interest in the Greek “mountainous” country while studying the women’s issue in a rural society. But Angelopoulos became an “acclaimed” member of the Greek left intelligentsia as the narrator of the Greek contemporary history from his left point- of-view. The fact that he was struggling to preserve the visionary character of his political orientation in his films, made his work a reference point to the left “collective memory” in Greece. In his trilogy Days of ‘36 (1972), The Travelling Players (1975), and The Hunters (1977) he explored in Brechtian ways the “manipulated” side of the historical facts and made meaningful poetry through them.

    In the middle eighties and later on Angelopoulos chose the alternative route of a less political, considerably self-portraying and impressionist film representation, using photography as his main expressive medium. His latest films could be seen as a call for the worshiping of the image, as a pure form of the “cinema des auteurs”, where the personal vision of the author is being reflected. The idea of filming as a mental activity with an end in itself probably “explains” the long length of his shots.

    Paradoxically, in the aftermath of his death, the Greek bourgeois parties proclaimed him as a “national” representative of Greek modern culture, although none of the films that he made could be seen as consensual or mainstream in relation to the dominant ideology.

    Ironically, his latest unfinished film The Other Sea – he was killed while shooting it – marked his return to politics through film narration. With The Other Sea, Angelopoulos envisioned a metaphor of the complex crisis of the social in Greece and in Europe in his portrayal of a corrupted businessman involved with politics. The filming began on 29 December. The biggest part of it would have been set in Piraeus, where “Theo” tragically and unexpectedly breathed his last.