Volume 20, Issue 2 / February 2016

Theo Angelopoulos: The Praxis of History as Style

Time passes. And in some cases, in cinema at least, it stands still, doubles in on itself and travels in the most unusual of ways. Case in point, it has been over four years since the death of Theo Angelopoulos, and this issue was initially planned as a tribute to his art to coincide, more or less, with the time of his death. If this were created in an Angelopoulos film the time of his death and the time of this tribute would co-exist in the same ‘frame’. But we live in a plain old reality, so here is Offscreen’s tribute to Angelopoulos, a few years late. This special issue contains four essays and an interview with actor Willem Dafoe, collectively celebrating the work of Theo Angelopoulos, who died tragically in a traffic accident on January 24, 2012 while riding his bike home from his own movie set. The issue kicks off with a long essay by Elie Castiel on the aesthetics of the long take in Angelopoulos’ early career masterpiece, The Travelling Players (1975). This essay is an extract from a longer work, Castiel’s Masters Thesis completed in 2003 at Concordia University in Montreal. The thesis (a little over 100 pages long) was written in French, and a great thanks is due to Olga Montes, who took on the challenge of translating this essay to English and produced a text that flows as smoothly as an Angelopoulos long take! Angelopoulos was a director was less concerned with the commercial potential of cinema as with the potential of cinema to bring to life history, in particular Greek and Balkan history. Author Alain Chouinard tackles the complex weave of art and recent Balkan history in his essay, “Historical Argument, Involuntary Memory, and the Subversion of Balkanist Discourse within Theo Angelopoulos’ Ulysses’ Gaze.” The relationship between style and history is also the broad subject of Olivier Bélanger’s “Theo Angelopoulos: On the Road between Story and History,” expanding the terrain to cover a greater number of the Greek director’s films. The final essay is Donato Totaro’s on The Suspended Step of the Stork, which shifts the focus to a consideration of Angelopoulos’ style in comparison to like minded modernist contemporaries, including Andrei Tarkovsky, Miklos Jançso, Michelangelo Antonioni and Bela Tarr. The final piece of the issue is an interview (by Betty Kaklamanidou) with American actor Willem Dafoe, who starred in Angelopoulos’ The Dust of Time (2008). (co-edited by Donato Totaro, David Hanley).

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