Everything Is Going To Be Turned Topsy-Turvy

THE IDIOSYNCRATIC FILM DIRECTOR THEO ANGELOPOULOS IS GETTING READY TO TURN EVERYTHING TOPSY-TURVY WITH ‘ANOTHER SEA’, THE LAST FILM IN HIS 20TH CENTURY TRILOGY.

Theo Angelopoulos came to Adana as guest of honor of the 17th Golden Cocoon Film Festival. Patting aside viewers’ curiosity about The Weeping Meadow (2004) and The Dust of Time (2008), I was determined to ask about the ending of the 20th century trilogy. But we touched first on Greek-Turkish friendship and how that friendship relates to cinema. A good thing we did too.

You’ve been to Turkey several times for festivals and lectures. Istanbul, Izmir, Adana… Have you had a chance to see any Turkish films?

I’ve had an opportunity to see several Turkish films since my first visit to Istanbul, especially the year I came as jury chairman for the 8th International Istanbul Film Festival.

Are there any Turkish directors to whom you see yourself as close, or, even if you don’t, who attract your interest?

Nuri Bilge Ceylan is the Turkish director that interests me the most. I find his way of doing things and his cinematic language very close to my own.

Is there any chance of a joint Greek-Turkish production?

Of course. What’s more, it’s imperative. This is one of the roles/functions of cinema: to provide opportunities for special cooperation. A new generation of film-makers is growing up in both countries, and they have a lot in common. Family is one of their most prominent themes. 

They are part of a trend to question and try to understand the family. We saw a divided family in Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s film, Three  Monkeys. The Greek director Dog Tooth has also treated a similar theme. A common past forces people to ask common questions.

Do films that focus on individual stories satisfy a director, one of whose raisons d’être is to follow history?

I was influenced by history because I lived in a period of dictatorships, civil wars and upheavals. When your life passes amid a slew of incidents, it leaves marks on you.

Usually they are marks of trauma. But at the same time those things also make a person more free and open up windows for reading the world. A personal story can be just as effective as an historical event, because while you are following a person’s story you can digress and say a lot of things. The world revolves more around minor than major utopias now. It’s only natural that personal journeys should come to the fore in film.

You have made strenuous efforts to prevent history from being forgotten. Has the anger you feel towards history subsided a little?
We are a generation condemned to repeating the mistakes of history. We have paid the price of forgetting many times. We cannot understand the future without learning about the past.  We can’t even understand our own day if we don’t know the past. But this should not be through anger or a sharp-edged point of view.

Even if it’s the continuation of a trilogy, how does it feel to start a new film?

As always, it’s like falling in love for the first time… Still the same excitement, the same enthusiasm, the same desire…

What is the last film going to be like? What is it going to describe? And how?

I have a finished text in hand. Originally the name of the film was Tomorrow. I changed it to Another Sea. I had the idea of shooting it in black and white but then gave up on that. There is one thing that hasn’t changed: The woman in the lead role is called Eleni as in the first two films.

This time the story takes place in a barracks in Piraeus where Albanian, Afghan, Pakistani, Somali and Algerian refugees live. The protagonists are trying to find the symbolic home they have in their heads. I focus on the concept of home because these people have to be on the move all the time.

The more they change places, the more they think they are going to arrive at the home they have in their mind, if only for a moment. What they are looking for is actually a place where a balance is struck between themselves and the world. That balance is very hard to find. Even more, it’s very rare. The problem is not the things lost in war but that upset balance.

I personally have not yet been able to find the place where I can live in harmony with myself and with the world. These feelings of being lost are actually there in the first two films as well. The grandfather in The Dust of Time reaches out his hand to Eleni, to reestablish old balances, balances with the past. But in the third film everything is going to be turned upside-down.

I DON’T WANT TO DIE!

Theo Angelopoulos’s relationship with the cinema started with a bad dream. Still a small boy in the post-war years when many people were flocking to the cinema, Angelopoulos still remembers the first film he ever saw, Angels With Dirty Faces, directed by Michael Curtiz. In the film the protagonist yells “I want to live!” as he is being led away to the electric chair by two guards. Angelopoulos had nightmares about that scene for a long time.

ANGELOPOULOS FILMS

Forminx Story
The Broadcast
Reconstruction
Days Of ’36
The Travelling Players
The Hunters
Alexander The Great
Voyage To Cythera
Athen, Return To The Acropolis
The Beekeeper
Landscape In The Mist
The Suspended Step Of The Stork
Ulysses’ Gaze
Eternity And A Day
Trilogy 1: The Weeping Meadow
Trilogy 2: The Dust Of Time