We cannot escape history One of the Hunters in The Hunting Party
Publisher’s note: Meres Tou ’36 (Days of 36) and other films on Greece currently showing at GOMA at South Bank Brisbane.
Over the weekend of 16-17 April, I saw Angelopoulos’s films: O Thiassos (The Travelling Players) 1974-75 and I Kynighi (The Hunters). The former, a masterpiece of four hours, and the latter, a more staged stylized film.
Together, the three films tell the terrible history Greek people had to face before, during and after World War II. Why did such a progressive people end up with such lousy right-wing governments?
Clearly a socialist, Angelopoulos portrays hard choices taken by ordinary people during this period. In the Travelling Players, reality keeps interfering in the plays put on by a small company of actors. Angelopoulos employs beautiful music and dance (even the fascists can trip the light fantastic) staged with references to Greek theatre and ancient myth.
In The Hunters, Angelopoulos shows how, if you do not face up to your past, you keep repeating it. Partisans agree to bury the body of their leader, a Che-like figure, without telling anyone what happened. This pact comes back to haunt them. At least South Africa had reconciliation, not that it helped them much.
Before he died in a car accident not long ago Angelopoulos was planning on making a film about the financial crisis. This would have been interesting because I doubt filmmakers today would get away with what Angelopoulos did in the 1970s. Pressure to conform in the Arts is so much stronger now.
Please find synopses and links provided by GOMA below. More of Angelopoulos films are coming up, see the GOMA website for details.
For those that missed these great films there are DVDs available at GOMA.
18 April 2016
O Thiassos (The Travelling Players)
Everything is shown through the perspective of simple people – the same people who have to bear the effects of these events. The film is a popular epic much more than an analysis of recent Greek history… the story covers the period between the overt dictatorship of a general to the veiled dictatorship of a field marshal, who was viewed by many Greeks, exhausted by all the catastrophes they had experienced before, as a liberator.
The dictatorship is embodied in the formal structure of the film. Imposed silence was one of the conditions under which we worked. The film is… made in such a way that the spectator realizes that censorship is involved.
Days of ’36 is a political thriller that unfolds after a Conservative Member of Parliament is taken hostage at a prison.
Based on real events, it begins with the murder of a trade unionist at a public rally and the imprisonment of a former police informant. Proclaiming his innocence, Sofianos is visited by a government official (and former lover) who he takes hostage in an attempt to secure his release.
The event sparks a crisis for the authorities and their indecision with how best to deal with the situation reflects a sense of political uncertainty: if the government gives into Sofianos’s demands, it faces losing the support of the ruling Democratic Party, while the Conservatives threaten to vote against the government if he is not immediately released.
Set on the eve of General Ioannis Metaxas’s dictatorship of Greece from 1936 and made midway through the country’s military junta from 1967–74 , Angelopoulos’s film is a critique of repressive attitudes, accusing both past and incumbent dictators of the same violent enforcement of social order.