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Travelling Players [Import]

Eva Kotamanidou , Aliki Georgouli , Theodoros Angelopoulos    Unrated   VHS Tape
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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5.0 out of 5 stars A study of corruption and innocence Jan. 27 2004
Format:VHS Tape
One of the world's finest directors, Theo Angelopoulos made The Travelling Players in 1974 under the hardline rule of Greece's military junta. Set between 1939 and 1952, it follows a group of itinerant actors touring a pastoral folk drama, getting caught up in the political events of the period. It's a miracle the military police allowed the film to be completed since it is so clearly critical of Greece's troubled history. Four hours long, and composed of only 80 shots, this is no zingy date movie, but it's a great protest film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars REMARKABLE Oct. 31 2003
Format:VHS Tape
I wrote a Master Thesis on this film, concentrating in the subject of the long take. It is written in French. Going through each sequence shot several times was an exhilarating experience.
Distributors should release all films by Angelopoulos. Of course, there are a lot a deals to be made with the GREEK FILM CENTER, one of the financers of Angelopoulo's films.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant if difficult film May 2 2011
By K. Gordon TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:VHS Tape
A flawed masterpiece from Angelopoulos, the first of a number of great
films of his you can pick at if you want. It's tragic that one of the best
modern film-makers is virtually unknown here in the U.S., and that
so few of his films are currently available.

First and foremost, 'The Traveling Players' is a technical achievement;
almost 4 hours long and only about 80 cuts in the whole film! It goes
against all we've gotten used to in film story-telling, and does it brilliantly.

The story follows a troupe of actors back and forth through the years
1939 to 1952. They're thrown about by the violent, sometimes absurd
tides of Greek history, with victory over the Nazi's giving way to the
rise of local fascists at home.

The film is very Brechtian and distanced in style. We hardly get to
know the characters at all, despite the running time. It's much more
interested in the great tides of politics and time than individuals -
which is both its strength and its weakness. I was always interested,
sometimes horrified, but rarely touched emotionally. Also, some of the
good/bad of the politics felt simplistic.

That said, despite its length, I will re-watch it. I suspect I'll
appreciate the amazing scope of it's vision and the bravery of it's
style even more without expecting to get caught up in the people in a
conventional way.

If you have the chance, get ahold of the 'New Star' DVD, which was only
in release a short time. The transfer was supervised and approved by
Angelopoulos, and certainly looks wildly better than the commonly found VHS
tape.

Update:Update: Artificial Eye has released a series of box sets of Angelopoulos' films
in the UK.
Read more ›
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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All the world's a stage Oct. 9 2005
By Tintin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
Greek film director Theo Angelopoulos is one of the most influential and widely respected contemporary filmmakers, yet his films are still largely unknown to the American public. There are several reasons for this seeming lack of popularity, the main one being that Angelopoulos' films are the antithesis of action films: his cinema is a cinema of contemplation. Angelopoulos forces the spectator into the role of co-author and co-voyager as he or she must contemplate the images and events as they unfold on the screen. The fact that Angelopoulos holds a deep fascination for Greek myths, history, and culture, for the most part unfamiliar to the American audiences, does not add to his films' popularity in this country.

Angelopoulos came to international attention with the release in 1975 of O Thiassos (The Travelling Players). The subject historical epic is the adventures of a group of actors traveling across Greece from 1939 until 1952, performing Golfo, a traditional 19th Century Greek classic tale of unrequited love. In this way, the film covers the last days of the Metaxas dictatorship, the beginning of the World War II, the German occupation, the Liberation and the arrival of the English and the Americans, and the Civil War. Greece's political history and the actors' lives are being woven together along this journey.

The Travelling Players is a meditation on history and myth. In this film, Angelopoulos examines the political power elite, monarchist-fascist, supported by foreign powers that had obstructed Greek democracy since at least 1936. This is a continuation of his investigation, which began with Days of '36 (1972), and would continue with Megalexandros (1979). Angelopoulos' views contradict the "official" Greek history and constitute a fundamental revision of history in which the Left, in general, and the Communist Party of Greece in particular, are given their proper places, and are not depicted as the moral threat to Greek democracy. Angelopoulos' main arguments for this revision have to do with the nature of the Greek resistance to the German occupation and the civil war which followed.

In this representation, Greece is no longer the Greece of the travel brochures, with its eternal sunshine and beautiful islands. Instead of the "travel poster" Greece, Arvantis' camera shows us a land with its scruffy homes, rundown kafeneons, crumbling stone walls, and rutted streets. Greece is no longer the cradle of western democracy, but a place where tyranny is deeply-rooted, and its enchanted islands are places of detention, torture and executions. Greece is a land possessed by Hunger and Death.

On a mythological level, the characters play out a modern version of the myth of the House of Atreus. As it is in Aeschylus' Agamemnon, betrayal is a major theme of the film, betrayal on a personal level by some members of the troupe. But on the contemporary historical level, the betrayal is that of Greece, from outside by other nations, but even more tragically, from within itself. Through this parallel Angelopoulos unambiguously suggests the repetitive cyclical nature of human existence.

On the other hand, since Aeschylus's Oresteia also relates the birth of Athenian democracy, it is from this lesson that Angelopoulos, continuing the lesson of Aeschylus, thematically links individual tragedy to the national struggle for freedom.

The camera of Georges Arvantis has been crucial in all of Angelopoulos' films, and The Travelling Players is no exception. Two-thirds of the film consists of exterior shots in subtle, subdued colors, recorded in the drab light of wintry dawns and dusks. The film is shot almost entirely in long shots that are also long takes, many lasting several minutes, and some as long as seven to nine minutes. The retelling of these thirteen years of history, covered in 240 minutes, required only eighty scenes or takes. On several occasions, during some long takes, there is a shift in time, which is meant to underscore the political linkage between the pre- and post-war military regimes. At other times, objects or characters come into the camera's restricted field of view , somewhat poorly framed, and even unpredictably at times, while outside sounds, near or far away, remind the viewer of the existence of an outside, unseen world. Many of these long takes with little action in them often follow moments of intense emotion. They become, in fact, resting points where the viewer can reflect on the dramatic event he or she has just witnessed. There are three particular long takes, in full shots, with the camera immobile, during which three of the main characters, Agamemnon, Electra, and Pylades, each in turn recount key moments in the history of their country. During these monologues, the actors speak monotonously, without inflection or emotion. But other than these three instances when history becomes intimate through these testimonials, history is observed from a distance, without fanfare, without insightful dialogue.

This film is composed as a mosaic of scenes rather than an ordered narrative as Angelopoulos switches back and forth in time and from one character to another. Using these distancing devices is one of the ways by which Angelopoulos forces the audience to reflect on the broader themes, rather than just the individual participants and moments.

There are no leading stars in this film. Although Orestes is certainly an important character, and the second half of the film is Electra's story even more than Orestes', the true protagonist is the group of players itself. As time passes, the group membership changes, but the group itself survives as a living character.

The Travelling Players is a powerful historical epic, if not an unusual one, as far as American audiences' expectations are concerned. I would certainly discourage seeing this as a first exposure to Angelopoulos' films. For those who appreciate Angelopoulos' work, it is one of his finest works, worthy of several viewings. Personally, I give the film a five-star rating, but viewers who are unfamiliar with Angelopoulos' films will give it one star.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All the world's a stage. Oct. 18 2008
By Tintin - Published on Amazon.com
Greek film director Theo Angelopoulos is one of the most influential and widely respected contemporary filmmakers, yet his films are still largely unknown to the American public. There are several reasons for this seeming lack of popularity, the main one being that Angelopoulos' films are the antithesis of action films: his cinema is a cinema of contemplation. Angelopoulos forces the spectator into the role of co-author and co-voyager as he or she must contemplate the images and events as they unfold on the screen. The fact that Angelopoulos holds a deep fascination for Greek myths, history, and culture, for the most part unfamiliar to the American audiences, does not add to his films' popularity in this country.

Angelopoulos came to international attention with the release in 1975 of "O Thiassos" ("The Travelling Players"). The subject historical epic is the adventures of a group of actors traveling across Greece from 1939 until 1952, performing "Golfo," a traditional 19th Century Greek classic tale of unrequited love. In this way, the film covers the last days of the Metaxas dictatorship, the beginning of the World War II, the German occupation, the Liberation and the arrival of the English and the Americans, and the Civil War. Greece's political history and the actors' lives are being woven together along this journey.

The camera of Georges Arvantis has been crucial in all of Angelopoulos' films, and "The Travelling Players" is no exception. Two-thirds of the film consists of exterior shots in subtle, subdued colors, recorded in the drab light of wintry dawns and dusks. The film is shot almost entirely in long shots that are also long takes, many lasting several minutes, and some as long as seven to nine minutes. The retelling of these thirteen years of history, covered in 240 minutes, required only eighty scenes or takes. On several occasions, during some long takes, there is a shift in time, which is meant to underscore the political linkage between the pre- and post-war military regimes. At other times, objects or characters come into the camera's restricted field of view , somewhat poorly framed, and even unpredictably at times, while outside sounds, near or far away, remind the viewer of the existence of an outside, unseen world. Many of these long takes with little action in them often follow moments of intense emotion. They become, in fact, resting points where the viewer can reflect on the dramatic event he or she has just witnessed. There are three particular long takes, in full shots, with the camera immobile, during which three of the main characters, Agamemnon, Electra, and Pylades, each in turn recount key moments in the history of their country. During these monologues, the actors speak monotonously, without inflection or emotion. But other than these three instances when history becomes intimate through these testimonials, history is observed from a distance, without fanfare, without insightful dialogue.

This film is composed as a mosaic of scenes rather than an ordered narrative as Angelopoulos switches back and forth in time and from one character to another. Using these distancing devices is one of the ways by which Angelopoulos forces the audience to reflect on the broader themes, rather than just the individual participants and moments.

There are no leading stars in this film. Although Orestes is certainly an important character, and the second half of the film is Electra's story even more than Orestes', the true protagonist is the group of players itself. As time passes, the group membership changes, but the group itself survives as a living character.

"The Travelling Players" is a meditation on history and myth. In this film, Angelopoulos examines the political power elite, monarchist-fascist, supported by foreign powers that had obstructed Greek democracy since at least 1936. This is a continuation of his investigation, which began with "Days of '36" (1972), and would continue with "Megalexandros" (1979). Angelopoulos' views contradict the "official" Greek history and constitute a fundamental revision of history in which the Left, in general, and the Communist Party of Greece in particular, are given their proper places, and are not depicted as the moral threat to Greek democracy. Angelopoulos' main arguments for this revision have to do with the nature of the Greek resistance to the German occupation and the civil war which followed.

In this representation, Greece is no longer the Greece of the travel brochures, with its eternal sunshine and beautiful islands. Instead of the "travel poster" Greece, Arvantis' camera shows us a land with its scruffy homes, rundown "kafeneons," crumbling stone walls, and rutted streets. Greece is no longer the cradle of western democracy, but a place where tyranny is deeply-rooted, and its enchanted islands are places of detention, torture and executions. Greece is a land possessed by Hunger and Death.

On a mythological level, the characters play out a modern version of the myth of the "House of Atreus." As it is in Aeschylus' "Agamemnon," betrayal is a major theme of the film, betrayal on a personal level by some members of the troupe. But on the contemporary historical level, the betrayal is that of Greece, from outside by other nations, but even more tragically, from within itself. Through this parallel Angelopoulos unambiguously suggests the repetitive cyclical nature of human existence.

On the other hand, since Aeschylus's Oresteia also relates the birth of Athenian democracy, it is from this lesson that Angelopoulos, continuing the lesson of Aeschylus, thematically links individual tragedy to the national struggle for freedom.

"The Travelling Players" is a powerful historical epic, if not an unusual one, as far as American audiences' expectations are concerned. I would certainly discourage seeing this as a first exposure to Angelopoulos' films. For those who appreciate Angelopoulos' work, it is one of his finest works, worthy of several viewings. Personally, I give the film a five-star rating, but viewers who are unfamiliar with Angelopoulos' films will give it one star.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Criterion, where are you? Dec 1 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
This is a perfect film for DVD, and the folks at Criterion should be the ones to do it. And the supplemental material: a time-line of historial events related to the film; a summary of modern Greek history: late 30's to early 50's.
And while we're at it. How about a DVD version of Angelopoulos's "The Suspended Step of the Stork" and "Voyage to Cythera." Criterion, are you listening?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, compelling and rewarding Jan. 7 2010
By Le_Samourai - Published on Amazon.com
A weary, expressionless acting troupe arrives at a near empty train station in a rural Greek village. The itinerant actors have arrived into town to perform a popular, idyllic, pastoral play entitled Golpho The Shepherdess. The actors seem indistinguishable from each other, and only their literary names, derived from the Aeschylus Oresteia trilogy (Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides), provide a glimpse into their true character: the father, Agamemnon (Stratos Pachis); the adulterous mother, Clytamnestra (Aliki Georgouli); the traitorous uncle, Aegisthus (Vangelis Kazan); the avenging daughter, Elektra (Eva Kotamanidou); the revolutionary son, Orestes (Petros Zarkadis); and the self-involved daughter, Chrisothemis (Maria Vasileiou). The Travelling Players chronicles the turbulent recent history of Greece, from the Nazi occupation of World War II to the devastating Civil War between the Royalists and the Communists. Throughout the film, the troupe inexhaustibly attempts to perform the same play from village to village, only to be invariably disrupted by air raids, arrests, gunfire, and murder. Even their attempts to reach the next town often prove to be daunting as they encounter the bodies of executed rebels, are detained by supercilious Allied soldiers seeking entertainment, or are terrorized by their own countrymen searching for partisan rebels hiding in the mountains. Figuratively, the travelling players are transient, anonymous supporting players in their nation's own unresolved history - refugees within their own decimated country - eternally doomed to wander aimlessly through the austere and turbulent landscape, unable to go home again.

Theo Angelopoulos creates a harsh, bleak, and profoundly tragic portrait of the dissolution of the national soul in The Travelling Players. Angelopoulos frames the characters through medium and long shots in order to create a distant camera perspective, and reflects their own insignificance in their reluctant roles as peripheral witnesses to the country's turmoil. The unemotive, Byzantine countenance of the actors, similar to the muted expressions of the characters in Robert Bresson's films, further manifest, not only the ravaged, desolate villages of the Greek countryside, but also the emotional toll of the unending violence. The lyrics of a repeated ballad echoes the hopelessness and melancholy of the wandering players: "You will come back, no matter how many years go by, you will come back, full of remorse, to ask forgiveness, one night in shame you will come back". It is an elegy that mourns the loss of a great love, and solemnly awaits the return of a broken soul despite the ravages of time - a haunting, passionate serenade for a wounded nation still attempting to reconcile with its devastating, self-destructive past.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent cinematography, photography and lyrical music... June 30 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
This is a film, the ultimate film...
A theatrical troupe travels through Greece, while metaphorically travelling through Greek history and all its ups and downs, including military dictatorship, Nazi occupation, and NATO domination. A deeply rich film from acclaimed director Angelopoulos.
If you like pure cinematigraphy, it is an excellent choise.
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