Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Theo Angelopoulos killed in road accident

The dreadful news emerging from Greece tonight is that filmmaker Theodoros Angelopoulos has been killed in a road accident, aged 77. Apparently, he was struck by a motorcycle while shooting his latest film, The Other Sea, in Piraeus and, despite being rushed to hospital, he died of head injuries.

Above is a clip from Angelopoulos’ Travelling Players (1975), the best Greek film ever made – ‘a meditation with three dimensions: history, myth and aesthetics’, according to Dan Georgakas – and below is an excerpt from an interview Angelopoulos gave to Andrew Horton in 1995, and published in The Last Modernist: The films of Theo Angelopoulos.

‘Seferis is my favourite modern poet. Long before I became a filmmaker, I was interested in poetry. I began writing poems when I was sixteen, under the influence of Cavafy, Seferis and Odysseus Elytis in Greece and also T.S. Eliot, Rilke and others. By 1950, I was deeply into their poetry, which was not taught at school, I might add (except some of Cavafy). Then in fiction I was deeply influenced by James Joyce, Stendhal, Balzac and Faulkner. In Greece, I liked Papadiamantis, who is not known even by Greeks now!

‘So it’s more accurate to say that I spent my youth with these influences rather than with cinema. And perhaps I was slow to discover cinema, because in our culture, literature, especially poetry, has always been first, and even music has been ahead of cinema. Yes, I was quoting Seferis and referring to him in Alexander the Great and also in Ulysses’ Gaze, when Nikos, the old friend tells Harvey Keitel that the first thing God made was the journey. That is a line from Seferis. Likewise, when Harvey says “in my end is my beginning”, he is quoting Eliot.’

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