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Movies > ‘Meadow’ looks at 20th century Greece May 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.

Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos remains arguably the most uncompromising director alive. He makes movies his way – stately, slow, serious – and cares not a whit about accommodating changing styles or times.

When this approach produces a masterpiece, such as “Landscape in the Mist” the results are spellbinding. But even when he’s not at the top of his game, Angelopoulos creates his own world.

Greece remains a prime topic for this director, and “The Weeping Meadow” is apparently the first part of a planned trilogy on Greek 20th century history. It covers many years, from 1919 though the end of the World War II, but with large gaps and much left out.

What there is of conventional plot follows two young people, who are not related but have been raised as sister and brother. Their family flees Odessa to return to Greece, where later the girl is betrothed to the older man who has been her adoptive father. She flees with her lover, but a certain measure of shame follows them around, especially after they are joined by the twin sons who were conceived during their teenage years. The shunned older man also follows them around, like a ghost they can’t forget.

Angelopoulos wrote the script with Tonino Guerra, one of Europe’s most reliable screenwriters, and there is more storyline than usual for this director. Angelopoulos is fond of long-held, slowly moving camera shots, often of staggering complexity, a village’s worth of people moving their boats through a flooded town, or a couple approaching a tree that is gradually revealed to have dead sheep hanging from it.

“The Weeping Meadow” mixes the tragic history of the pre-WWII years with elements of ancient Greek myths, and plays it all to native music. Alexi is an accordion player, and his abilities dictate where the family goes, with the temptation of America always on the horizon.There are amazing things in this film, such as the long, sinuous shot that winds through a dance at a beer hall as profound shifts happen in the lives of the characters. It is a difficult movie, perhaps with meanings that will resound mostly with a Greek audience. But for more adventurous patrons of the arthouse, its challenges will bring rewards.

Greek history: The gifted and challenging Greek director Theo Angelopoulos offers a look at the tumultuous history of his country from 1919-1945, seen through the experiences of a family. Nothing is conventional or easy about the director’s style, which favors long, slow-moving shots, but there are rewards to his approach.

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