To vlemma tou Odyssea Film Details
Overview: An exiled filmmaker finally returns to his home country where former mysteries and afflictions of his early life come back to haunt him once more.
Review: Up until 1995, all of Angelopoulos’ films had for their subjects Greece, Greek history, and Greek myths. He continues somewhat with “Ulysses’ Gaze,” but this time the filmmaker travels beyond the Greek borders into the neighboring Balkan countries. Angelopoulos was not trained in the method of the Actor’s Studio. More importantly, he believes that shooting in the actual locations of his stories enhances his sense of actually participating in the film itself, and therefore produces better outcomes. Except for the scenes taking place in Sarajevo, which were shot around Mostar, Vukovar, and in the Krijena region, all the other scenes were filmed on location, in Albania, the Republic of Skopje, Bulgaria, Rumania, and Serbia. Angelopoulos wrote the script with the collaboration of Tonino Guerra. In “Ulysses’ Gaze,” history is present, but contrary to “The Travelling Players” where it was the theme, and the group of players rather than any individual character was the “star” of the film, in the present film, history is now relegated to the background, and since “A’s” odyssey through the region is the main story, we see a more conventional character in the personage represented by Harvey Keitel, and also in the different characters who cross his path. However, the dialogues are often stylized, and this gives the actors, especially Keitel, a somewhat “mechanical” delivery, with the exception of Keitel’s last monologue. This is in keeping with Angelopoulos’ intent to occasionally distance his viewers from their emotional responses, forcing them to study and explore the identities of the characters. The Romanian actress, Maia Morgenstern, plays the parts of the four women. These women can easily be identified with the women Homer’s Ulysses came across during his voyage. They also represent all the women whom “A” had loved and lost in past. Erland Josephson’s is, as always, up to snuff. Giorgos Arvanitis, Angelopoulos’s long time collaborator, is responsible for the stunning cinematography. Many of the scenes are long shots that are also long takes, lasting several minutes, Angelopoulos’ undeniable signature. On several occasions, during some long takes, there is a shift in time, emphasizing history’s continuity. The film’s first scene, on the quay of Salonika, is particularly remarkable in its lyrical construction. The music is by Greek composer Eleni Karaindrou. Her compositions for the cinema transcend the soundtrack’s conventions. Her music does not merely accompany the story, it is an essential element of it. The score is a counterpoint to the cinematic action, and establishes an emotional climate, combining with the image to express what cannot be said in words. As the title of the film announces, Angelopoulos is taking us on a journey through the tumultuous Balkan region and on a time-travel through its 20th century history. It is, after all, where “the Great War” started, in Sarajevo, where the film ends eighty years later, among more massacres and mayhem. Angelopoulos considers himself a historian of 20th century Greece, who likes to bring lessons of the Hellenic myths into his discussions. I would like to emphasize that it is useless, and even detrimental to the enjoyment of “Ulysses’ Gaze,” to try to see in this film the retelling of Homer’s Odyssey in a contemporary context. Angelopoulos does not try to recount the Odyssey. Rather, the Odyssey is merely a reference point, and the missing films become the journey’s Ithacan destination. On one level, “Ulysses’ Gaze” is a search for the roots of the cinema of the Balkans, and more generally, of the cinema itself. “Ulysses’ Gaze” considers the importance of film in recording history, and its potential in influencing its future development. Angelopoulos also suggests early in the film, through the events taking place in Florina, that film, not the Hollywood-type schlock, but thought-provoking film such as his can influence people’s lives. The second theme is of course, the odyssey of “A” through the Balkans, and as Ulysses was, “A” must also be clever to overcome all the journey’s obstacles in order to reach his goal, the lost film reels. But this journey is actually the individual nostalgic journey of a man in search of his past, his loves, and his losses. “A,” a Greek-American, left his native country thirty years before. It is said that of all the immigrants who come to the United States, the ones who long the most for their native country are the Greeks. Many eventually return home, and “A” is just one more of them. Finally, the film is also a Balkans history lesson. The voyage goes on its long and weary itinerary over this hostile region, and as it proceeds, we learn about past but also about present events, which tore, and are still tearing this area apart. Although Angelopoulos’ political stand is well known, the film stays clear of any political moral regarding the Bosnian war. Angelopoulos cannot help but be pessimistic in that respect. In Homer’s epic poem, Ulysses returns to Ithaca, kills all the suitors, and most likely, lives “happily ever after” with his Penelope. But in Ulysses’ Gaze, Angelopoulos knows his history well: the real Balkans are not, nor have they ever been, a heaven of peace. So, the war goes on, and “A,” although having attained his Ithaca, is still trapped in Sarajevo, with all of his friends dead. For “A,” the odyssey continues, as he recites Homer’s optimistic lines, which are aimed at the future, “When I return .” What has meaning to Angelopoulos is not so much the goal of the journey, but the journey itself: “The story that never ends.” Angelopoulos’ films tend to be monumental and slow, with striking images and a dreamlike rhythm. His films require audience participation through the viewer’s memories, thoughts, and feelings. In these respects, Ulysses’ Gaze is undeniably an Angelopoulos film, and certainly one of his masterpieces. Notwithstanding most American reviewers, such as Roger Ebert who described “Ulysses’ Gaze” as “a numbing bore,” I highly recommend this film.
Country: Greece, France, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Romania, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Language: English, Greek, Bulgarian, Albanian, Serbian, Romanian, Kurdish, Macedonian, German
Duration: 176 min
Genre: Drama, War
Also known as: Odysseus’ blik,ユリシーズの瞳,O Olhar de Ulisses,La mirada de Ulises,Odysseus blick,Privirea lui Ulise,Odisejev pogled,The Look of Ulysses,The Gaze of Odysseus,Uliso žvilgsnis,Odyssevs’ blikk,Spojrzenie Odyseusza,Um Olhar a Cada Dia,Ulysses’ Gaze,Eullisijeuui Siseon,Το βλέμμα του Οδυσσέα,Le regard d’Ulysse,Ulis’in Bakışı,Odüsszeusz tekintete,Odysseuksen katse,Lo sguardo di Ulisse,To vlemma tou Odyssea,Погледът на Одисей,Der Blick des Odysseus,Взгляд Одиссея