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JOURNEY TO CYTHERA

Greece / Italy / UK / West Germany, 1984 (MIFF 1985)

Director: Theo Angelopoulos

The latest film from the great maverick of Greek cinema is both an affirmation of his tremendous talent and a marked development in his career. Still passionately concerned with the socio-political history of his native country, his style still wedded to measured and complex long takes, his structure here is nevertheless simpler in form. The latter part of the film, in particular, is imbued with a humanistic warmth barely hinted at in his earlier work.

The title of the film is metaphoric; Cythera itself - a large island south of the mainland, populated mainly with elderly people who have returned from abroad to live on their pensions - is never glimpsed. The story is filmed in Athens and various rain-soaked mountain locations around Piraeus.

An old Russian Civil War fighter returns to Greece from years of Russian exile, and steadfastly refuses to come to terms with his past or present With his family he returns to a mountain village where he has property claims and promptly finds himself ostracised, and the target of assault, when he refuses to join the other villagers and sell his land to developers. The land is crucial in the plans to turn the area into a ski resort, and without it the other villagers cannot effect a sale of their own properties. As the old man's behaviour causes increasing embarrassment to developers and community alike it draws the attention of the authorities When he is unable to prove his Greek citizenship they move to deport him.

The film has a dense visual texture (John Gillet in The Economist found its camerawork possibly the most impressive at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, "a festival of great cameramen") and the finale, however “unrealistic", has the essential qualities of a fable and many have found it painfully moving.

See also...

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VOYAGE TO CYTHERA

After more than three decades' exile in the Soviet Union, a declaration of political amnesty means that Spyros, an elderly Commu­nist rebel, can at last return to his homeland. Yet in doing so ... More »

THE BEE KEEPER

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