10 February 2012 | runamokprods
Powerful, surreal examination of politics, time, guilt and memories
A striking, powerful follow up and companion piece to the epic 4 hour "The Traveling Players", Angelopolous further refines his complex visual style, jumping backwards and forwards in time, often, remarkably all in the same shot. (There are several very long takes here that are simply astounding, tracking us right out of the 1970s into the1960s and then the 1940s and back again).
A group of hunters in 1977 find a communist revolutionary, dressed in period clothing, freshly shot to death in the snow. But how can this be? All the Communists were executed or exiled back in 1949.
The subsequent surreal exploration of the past and present – of each character and of Greece itself – is a challenging statement on guilt, denial, moral confusion and self- deception.
This may be the best of all Andropolous' films at making multiple time periods dance together in the same scenes, often in the same shot, sometimes in the same frame (!). He uses cinema in a unique way to examine how the past shapes the present, and how we in the present re-shape the past in our memories.
And while this is all quite serious, the film also has a bleak sense of humor that shows its head now and again.
A difficult, but tremendously rewarding film.
Note: There seem to be two versions of the film in existence, both supposedly 'approved' by the director. A 143 minute version (available on the new Artificial eye Andropoulos box set) and a longer 168 minute version, which I have not been able to find with subtitles, although there are non-subtitled Japanese and Chinese DVDs. This review is based on the Artificial Eye version.