Retrospectiva Theo Angelopoulos
THE BEE-KEEPER (O MELISSOKOMOS) - 1986 - Greece, France - Fiction
director: Theo Angelopoulos
- Spyros, a man soured by a secret, incestuous love for his daughter, on the day of her wedding, gives up his position as a schoolteacher, his wife and his home to take up again the profession of his father and grandfather: to tend the bees. Following the traditional beekeeper`s route, looking for flowers that will produce the best honey, he drives from town to town revisiting his old haunts and comrades relighting and reliving his history in his memory, trying to reconcile his past ideals with a swiftly changing nation that makes him feel uncomfortable. At some point he picks up a promiscuous young hitchhiker who sporadically tags along with him during his journey and seems to represent a new generation without memory and unconcerned with the past.
- Theo Angelopoulos
- Theo Angelopoulos, Dimitris Nollas, Tonino Guerra
- Giorgos Arvanitis
- Takis Yannopoulos
- Eleni Karaindrou
- Marcello Mastroianni, Nadia Mourouzi, Serge Reggiani, Jenny Roussea, Dinos Iliopoulos
- Nikos Angelopoulos
- production company
- Greek Film Centre, ERT-1 TV (Greece), Paradis Films (Paris), Basicinematografica (Rome), Theo Angelopoulos
- 120 minutes
- color, 35mm
A journey to the center of the man
When Theo Angelopoulos finished his first short-film, I Ekpombi (The Broadcast), in 1968, Greece was still learning to live under the violent
military dictatorship that had been set up the year before, overthrowing Constantine II in the process. Since his first films, the former film critic
had been anticipating the dissolution of the Balkans with his melancholic vision, capturing a decadent mythology and its peoples’ exodus.
In the rest of the world, political and social changes were mirrored on the big screen by great filmmakers who refined the language of modern Cinema:
Antonioni, Bertolucci, the Taviani brothers, Glauber Rocha, Oshima. Today, after more than 40 years, some have died, some have stopped filming, and
some have followed different paths altogether.
Angelopoulos has carried on with his same aesthetic vigor, a sense of time that is heavy yet equally refined, the drawn-out long-takes that bring
together different landscapes, times, and the soul’s conditions; a camera that captures the great crises of our time, man’s eternal struggle with his
ideologies, his defeats, and his perpetual return to his roots. In his films, man and his conscience are the ones who shape history and are not
simply dragged along by it. In the same scene, even in the same shot, one can find perspective and experience living side by side; poetry and
One of the director’s quotes sums up well his work’s character: “A film is a meaningful human quest. The meaning only becomes clear when an external
quest can turn into an internal quest”. Unlike road movies, where characters travel with no specific purpose, Angelopoulos’ films are filled with heroes who undertake a personal journey in search of someone or something that serves as a metaphor for a time gone by, a paradise lost, an innocence lost.
In the words of the director: “In a modern world where everything is upside-down, everything seems muddy and hidden by the fog.”
His work could be separated out into three phases: a first phase of historical and political films, made in a time of ideological turbulence in
Western Europe; a second phase where the focus fell upon the characters, with history and politics as the backdrop; and a third, more existential
phase concentrating on human destiny, where themes such as internal and external borders, exile, and the search for forgotten roots make up
fragments of a long and painful elegy.
As American critic Michael Wilmington puts it: “In Greece, it is said, common people love and speak poetry. Angelopoulos, very uncommonly, finds
poetry in corruption, betrayal, and witness: in children estranged from their father, in a country estranged from its heritage, in love’s paralysis,
the impossibility of art, the mists of death... above all, in the rich and resonant silence around him: that silence of history, of the land, of the
mountains, ocean, and sky... all viewed with the fixed gaze through which, like Conrad, he finally makes us see.”
In its 33rd edition, the São Paulo International Film Festival rekindles a relationship of many years and much admiration with this great contemporary filmmaker. The admiration began with Voyage to Cythera (1983), shown at the 8th Mostra. This continued with Landscape in the Mist (1988) and The Suspended Step of the Stork (1991), both screened at the 15th Mostra, and Ulysses’ Gaze (1995, 19th Mostra). Up until 1996, only two of his films had ever been commercially released in Brazil; in that year, the 20th Mostra dedicated a complete retrospective of his work that included 7 films from the beginning of his career never-before-seen in the country. The relationship carried on later with Eternity and a Day (22nd Mostra), winner of the Palme D’Or at Cannes in 1998, and The Weeping Meadow (2004, 29th Mostra), the first part in a trilogy that looks at the origins of Greece in the 20th century. In the 33rd Mostra, as well as watching his masterpieces once again, it’s time to discover a new adventure, the second part of the trilogy, The Dust of Time (2008). Bon voyage.
To learn more about the director, go to www.theoangelopoulos.com