- LULU / PANDORA'S BOX
- DAPHNIS AND CHLOE
- FEDRA
- THE FUGITIVE KIND
- THE TESTAMENT OF ORPHEUS
- PHAEDRA
- HERCULES CONQUERS ATLANTIS
- YOUNG APHRODITES
- CONTEMPT
- PROMETHEUS FROM THE VISEVICE ISLAND
- SANDRA OF A THOUSAND DELIGHTS
- THE GOLDEN THING
- THE TRAVELLING PLAYERS
- EURIDICE BA 2037
- IPHIGENIA
- A DREAM OF PASSION
- CLASH OF THE TITANS
- THE YEARS OF THE BIG HEAT
- ENIOCHUS - THE CHARIOTEER
- ANTIGONE
- EDIPO ALCADE
- THAT'S LIFE
- BLADE RUNNER
- VERTIGO
- MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA
- ORPHEUS
- PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN
- ULYSSES
- HERACLES AND THE QUEEN OF LYDIA
- BLACK ORPHEUS
- ANTIGONE
- ELECTRA
- JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS
- GORGON
- OEDIPUS REX
- ILLIAC PASSION
- THE CANNIBALS
- EDEA
- NOTES FOR AN AFRICAN ORESTEIA
- FOR ELECTRA
- PROMETHEUS IN THE SECOND PERSON
- VOYAGE TO CYTHERA
- ULYSSES' GAZE
- MATRIX
- O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?

ULYSSES’ GAZE
TO VLEMMA TOU ODYSSEA
Greece, 1995


Directed by: Theo Angelopoulos. Screenplay: Theo Angelopoulos, Tonino Guerra, Petros Markaris. Director of Photography: Yiorgos Arvanitis. Set Design: Yiorgos Patsas, Miodrag Mile Nicolic. Costume Design: Yiorgos Ziakas. Music: Eleni Karaindrou. Film Editor: Yiannis Tsitsopoulos. Cast: Harvey Keitel (A.), Maia Morgenstern (Odysseus’ wives), Erland Josephson (Preservationist at the Film Archives), Thanassis Vengos (taxi-driver), Yiorgos Michalakopoulos (Nikos), Dora Volanaki (old lady), Mania Papadimitriou, Eva Kotamanidou, Yiorgos Kamberidis, Vangelis Kazan, Yiannis Zavradinos, Mirca Kalatzopoulou. Production: Theo Angelopoulos, Greek Film Centre, Paradis Film, La Gnrale d’Images, La Sept Cinma, in collaboration with: Canal+, Basic Cinematografica, Instituto Luce, RAI, Tele-Mnchen, Concorde Films, MEGA Channel, Channel Four. Length: 176 min. Colour. Grand Prize of the 1995 Cannes Film Festival Jury. FIPRESCI Award at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival. Flix Critics Award.

Travelling prayers
[...] The decade that began with the dissolution of the Soviet Empire now concludes, inconclusively, mired in disasters of that dissolving motion. Set during the Sarajevo siege, Ulysses’ Gaze is about the whole of this century and its ongoing wars, their aftermaths, and rumours of more wars. It situates its unnamed hero (Harvey Keitel) as a watcher traveling along the edge of Europe where the century’s catastrophe recurs now and for decades before almost without relief.
The last 1000 years pushed Greece –Europe’s pivotal ancestral country– to that edge. All this, too, is in the film. Theo Angelopoulos is nothing if not self-consciously a Greek. His serious task is to make us recall that, more than two millennia ago, the great historical and political cycles of Europe began in the Greek experience. Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey, Herodotus’ Histories and the Greek tragedies wrote themselves deepest in the European mind – tales of war and war’s aftermath. Our war-ravaged century besets what Angelopoulos’ Ulysses calls " this area of the world," especially because the epicycle started and continues even now to restart ever again, at that edge.
[...]
The cycle of Homer resumes as Europe burns again to repeat the old tragedy of war. Ulysses repeats his steps after another Asian empire –Lenin’s "Troy," in effect– has fallen to ruin. It is remarkable how well Angelopoulos discovers and mounts powerful iconic images and episodes, using his slow, extremely grave style to carry his themes. There is no trace of contemporary irony in this film. Everything is felt hard, even Keitel’s performance. Although the actor could not be farther from his customary haunts, he has the right walk (remembering a peasant past) and surprising gentleness (of a man who recognises others). Keitel approximates the voice of the script’s protagonist in his hesitance and determination and sorrow. But rather like the actors in Murnau’s Sunrise, Visconti’s La terra trema, or Dreyer’s Ordet, the acting is a piece of another composition.
Angelopoulos is concerned to invoke European consciousness itself. This is a tragic and moral consciousness reaching back to Homer and the tragic playwrights. Its configuration in Ulysses’ Gaze is so old-fashioned, un-liberal, and Greek as to be almost shocking. Here is a director who recasts Homer in the age of the Internet, making a film that regards women as archetypes of mourning, delicacy and patience, in the age of Jane Campion...
[...]
Not an artist of a European centre, Angelopoulos seems as peripheral as De Sica or Rossellini seemed to be in the wrecked "Third World" Italy of 1946. Angelopoulos takes it as his birthright to rewrite Homer, Herodotus and the tragedians as (and through) poets of the 20th century. This is not a mute artist’s gambit, needless to say, and Ulysses’ Gaze assumes the power of gravest European speech at every level – in other words, the power to speak for Europe. For a filmmaker rigorously sparse with dialogue and preferring extremely heavy, weighted silenced distension between cuts, Angelopoulos’ world is paradoxically minimal in its drama, yet dense with signs, statements, and solemn episode. Pathos is imminent everywhere. The prospects are grim, as is the film’s relentless inventory of historical effects: unresolved memories of war, rise and the fall of Communism, and, finally, Sarajevo, where the world loses its solidity and only one object –three reels, a relic of a past– survives the terror. Every step towards this end is humane and serious and given the complete value of its time on the screen. There is finally no Ithaca, no place of return to be found in the ruined movie theatre. Nostalgia means "the wounds of returning." Where the hero arrives at the end, there is blood and death, but the circle is closing on time and, unfinished, still ends. This is what makes a tragic-epic obligatory, memorial to that cycle of time in the contemporary moment. Angelopoulos’ achievement is in meeting the obligation and ensuring that the future will remember the now.

Bart Testa
"Cinemascope", No. 86