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Ulysses’ Gaze (To vlemma tou Odyssea)


Dir. Theo Angelopoulos. 1995, 176 min. 35mm. With Harvey Keitel, Erland Josephson, Maïa Morgenstern. In English, Greek, Romanian, Albanian, Bulgarian, Serbian, and Kurdish with English subtitles. Harvey Keitel, playing a controversial Greek-born American filmmaker, finds himself stranded in a country he has not visited for decades and goes on the hunt for reels of undeveloped film shot in 1905 by the Manaki Brothers, Macedonian photographers who made the first motion pictures in the Balkans. Angelopoulos created this epic tour of post-communist Eastern Europe as both a modern Odyssey and a study of collapse during wartime. Ulysses’ Gaze presents the end of the twentieth century (the century of cinema) as a dangerous failure redeemed only by expressions of mourning or grief; dialogue in the film contains a dedication “to the world that hasn’t changed for all our dreaming.” For Angelopoulos, recording and preserving history on film serves as the only redemption in a world where monumental statues of great leaders end up toppled, beheaded, and sold down the river.

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