Athens.- He was known for his slow and dream-like directing style and had enough stamina at 76 to be working on his latest movie. But award-winning Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos was killed in a road accident Tuesday after being hit by a motorcycle while walking across a road close to a movie set near Athens’ main port of Piraeus.
The driver, who was also injured and hospitalized, was later identified as an off-duty police officer.
The accident occurred while Angelopoulos was working on his upcoming movie “The Other Sea.”
The ‘elegiac poet’ of Greek cinematography with a career spanning more than four decades, Angelopoulos was born in April 1935, and studied law at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, and after his military service went to Paris to attend the Sorbonne where he initially studied French philosophy, cinematography and ethnology, but soon dropped out to study film at the Institute of Advanced Cinematographic Studies (IDHEC) and the Musee de l’Homme Paris-based Museum of Man) research center.
Upon his return to Greece in 1964 and up until 1967 he worked as a journalist and film critic for the newspaper Dimokratiki Allaghi (Democratic Change), while in 1978 he was a jury member at the 28th Berlin International Film Festival.
Angelopoulos became involved with cinematography in 1965, making his first short film, “The Broadcast” in 1968, which was presented at the International Thessaloniki Film Festival and won the Greek Critics’ Award.
This was followed by a series of political feature films in the 1970s about modern Greece. His first feature film, “The Reconstruction” (I Anaparastassi, 1970), which marked the dawn of modern Greek cinema, also won the top award (Critics’ Award) at the International Thessaloniki Film Festival, as well as the awards for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Film and Best Actress, while it further received several distinctions abroad, including the 1971 Georges Sadoul Award as “Best Film of the Year Shown in France” and the 1971 Best Foreign Film Award at the Hyeres Film Festival.amna
He developed a trademark style marked by slow, episodic and ambiguous narrative charasterised by long takes such as in The Travelling Players, which consists of just 80 shots in some four hours of film, which frequently contained meticulously choreographed and complex scenes involving numerous actors.
Considered by some respected international film critics as one of the world’s greatest directors, Angelopoulos was awarded an honourary doctorate by Essex University in the UK in July 2001.
Angelopoulos’ films have enjoyed impressive acclaim internationally, receiving some of the most envied awards abroad:
“The atmosphere, symbolism and historical context of his cinematic storytelling went beyond the art form that he worked in and inspired young filmmakers,” Greek President Karolos Papoulias said Wednesday. “(This) occurred at a time when he was extremely creative and the country was in need of his insight, making his absence all the more painful.”
Survived by his wife Phoebe and three daughters, Angelopoulos is to be buried Friday at Athens’ First Cemetery.
Greece’s state Ambulance Service, meanwhile, has ordered an inquiry into reports that paramedics arrived at the scene of the accident 45 minutes after they were called.
Described as mild-mannered but uncompromising, Angelopoulos’ often sad and slow-moving films mostly dealt with issues from Greece’s turbulent recent history: war, exile, immigration and political division.
It was not until 1984 with “Voyage to Kythera” that his scripts were written in collaboration with others.
Angelopoulos attracted mostly art-house audiences, using established actors including Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau in two of his most widely acclaimed films, “The Bee Keeper” and “The Suspended Stride of the Stalk.”
His bleak landscapes, slow editing pace and long spells without any dialogue meant his movies did not always please filmgoers or critics.
American film critic Roger Ebert wrote of “Ulysses’ Gaze”: “There is a temptation to give ’Ulysses’ Gaze’ the benefit of the doubt: To praise it for its vision, its daring, its courage, its great length. But I would not be able to look you in the eye if you went to see it, because how could I deny that it is a numbing bore?”
In a rare television interview last year, Angelopoulos said his next film was to be about Greece’s major financial crisis. He publicly called on rival political parties to work together to try and ease the hardships facing many Greeks.
“I remain a leftist in total confusion,” he told state-run NET television.
Several months later, the country’s two main rival political parties agreed to form a coalition government to tackle Greece’s enormous debt problems.
“This is an emergency situation. We must realize this. So we must all examine what can be done — the left and right. This is my plea,” he said in the interview. “I am afraid of what tomorrow will bring.”
– “Days of ’36” (Meres tou ’36, 1970): 1972 Best Director, Best Cinematography Awards, Thessaloniki Film Festival ; International Film Critics Association (FIPRESCI) Award for Best Film, Berlin Film Festival. – “The Travelling Players” ( O Thiassos, 1974-75): 1975 International Film Critics Award (FIPRESCI), Cannes; 1975 Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress, Greek Critics Association Awards, International Thessaloniki Film Festival; Interfilm Award, “Forum” 1975 Berlin Festival; 1976 Best film of the Year, British Film Institute; Italian Film Critics Association “Best Film in the World”, 1970-80; FIPRESCI: One of the Top Films in the History of Cinema; Grand Prix of the Arts, Japan; Best Film of the Year, Japan; Golden Age Award, Brussels. amna – “The Hunters” (I Kynighoi, 1977): 1978 Golden Hugo Award for Best Film, Chicago Film Festival. – “Megalexandros” (Alexander the Great, 1980): 1980 Golden Lion and International Film Critics Award (FIPRESCI), Venice Film Festival. – “Voyage to Cythera” (Taxidi Sta Kythira, 1983): Best Screenplay and International Film Critics Award (FIPRESCI) Best Film Awards, 1984 Cannes Film Festival; Critics’ Award, Rio Film Festival. amna – “Landscape in the Mist” (Topio stin Omichli, 1988): 1988. Silver Lion Award for Best Director, Venice Film Festival; 1989 Felix (Best European Film of the Year) Award; Golden Hugo Award for Best Director; Silver Plaque for Best Cinematography, Chicago Film Festival. – Ulysses’ Gaze (To Vlemma tou Odyssea, 1995): Grand Jury Prize and International Film Critics’ Award (FIPRESCI), 1995 Cannes Film Festival; Felix of the Critics (Film of the Year 1995). – Eternity and a Day (Mia Aioniotita kai Mia Mera, 1998): Palme d’Or, 1998 Cannes Film Festival; Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.