– Theo Angelopoulos: A tribute

7 02 2012

Theo Angelopoulos left us some days ago, but it seems that only his physical presence has passed away. His films will always be here, continuing to reveal the inner dialectics of our existence. In Angelopoulos’ cinema, the landscapes of Greece join the neighbourhoods of the world and offer ground for universal symbolism, haunted by the presence of the people whose deeds and desires clash with the inevitable hopelessness of their fulfilment.

In an Angelopoulos’ film, the story evolves on the borderline, where presence and absence, need and desire, time and place, individual and collective, emotion and conscience, meet, collide and coexist in a silent or a melodic way. Its beauty and power come from the universality of these encounters.

In Angelopoulos’ films, space turns into time. Space is no more the story’s setting. It is a depth of field inside which a man’s life experiences are inescapably attached to historical memory and burdened by emotions created by such memory. His films are works of art, where, at first reading, the viewer reads the landscape and spaces as the scene where certain narrative actions take place. Afterwards, a second reading transforms these spaces into independent worlds. In these worlds, the colour references, symbolisms, rituals, historical memory and aesthetic references compress into images, which, entirely free now, trigger off an ongoing reflection on their own constituent components. As it happens with the classical painting masterpieces of the old masters, the first time you lay eyes on them, your mind tries to understand the narrative and comprehend the facts. Afterwards, however, when these first mind games have settled, art comes into the picture (composition, colour qualities, line intensity and correlation of forms), and everything begins to create another truth, a truth in itself, inside which the gaze seeks to submerge, over and over again. A truth that offers the viewer something much more than just a simple aesthetic experience, but rather, a sort of conscience universe (albeit a vague one), to help him in his endeavour to conquer the truth regarding all these questions that drown him.

Perhaps the people in Angelopoulos’ movies are not able to change the course of history. Perhaps they are not even real people, but visual forms trapped somewhere inside a sort of heroic desperation, somewhere in between their desires and their duties. Perhaps their actions are left incomplete and hanging in a constant feeling of absence, loss or defeat. Nonetheless, their conscience is always alive and hovers above the facts, inside the space-time, the parameters of which it tries to understand, and keeps struggling, often hopelessly, to find this world’s meaning in the dialectical relations that are making it up, and further tries to find its own place in this ongoing quest. A quest that forms a cultural shelter inside which, like in every other important form of art, the subject — in this case, ourselves — envisions, even if briefly, something from the deeper meaning of its existence. And this is extremely precious in the hard and cynical time that we live in…

Thank you Theo Angelopoulos, and for all of this, we hope you have a great journey!

Because, we too, often feel as though we are strangers in a world that we cannot accept. We too are trying to balance ourselves. Thank you for your valuable contribution in this effort of ours.

 (translated by Angeliki Coconi)

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Το παραπάνω κείμενο είναι η Αγγλική μορφή του άρθρου μου της 31 Ιανουαρίου με τίτλο “Θόδωρος Αγγελόπουλος: Φόρος Τιμής” όπως δημοσιεύθηκε στον κινηματογραφικό τόπο Unsung Films (www.unsungfilms.com) σε μετάφραση Αγγελικής Κοκκώνη.

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