With The Weeping Meadow, one of filmmaking's greatest remaining masters embarks on his crowning achievement: a projected trilogy whose goal is nothing less than "a poetic summing up of the century that just ended."
This first panel, spanning 1919-1949, begins with a group of Greek refugees from Odessa settling on a piece of land that was promised to them just outside of Thessaloniki. Led by Spyros, a member of the Greek bourgeoisie and a leading figure of the Greek community in Odessa, the refugees name this land New Odessa.
Here begins the love story between Alexis, son of Spyros, and Eleni, an orphan adopted by Spyros' family during their journey to New Odessa. Growing up together, Alexis and Eleni never quite build the "brother & sister" relationship one might expect, but instead form a deep love for one another that will lead Eleni, like another heroine in ancient Greek tragedy, through all the tribulations of Hellenism and of the history of the 20th century. It's a love that will have to overcome all of the obstacles that are put in its way by the historical events and the socioeconomic dimensions that mark their lives.
Alexis and Eleni's love runs counter to the wishes of the widowed Spyros, who sees in Eleni a future wife for himself. Spyros' personality, which could be characterized as that of the father- master, weighs heavily on Eleni and she in turn agrees to marry him. But her true love for Alexis prevails, and immediately following her vows to Spyros, Eleni and Alexis flee to Thessaloniki and elope.
In search of work, Alexis connects with Nikos, a refugee from Asia Minor who leads a band of travelling musicians. Easily impressing Nikos with his talent as an accordion player, Alexis lands a gig with the band. But history intervenes. With Greece at war, Alexis decides to join a group of musicians about to embark on a tour of America. It's Alexis' hope that he'll be able to remain in the US and, once settled, he promises Eleni that he will send for her and their two young sons to join him. Left behind, Eleni is soon arrested for harboring Nikos, who had been hunted down by the regime as a leftist. Nikos meets a violent death at the hands of his ideological opponents and his friendship with Alexis and Eleni forces Eleni to spend a decade in prison as a political detainee. Yet Eleni's fate is relentless. She was born to love and not to hate. Released from prison, Eleni's search for Alexis and her two sons will lead her to a moment when she'll have to pay the price for her desire to follow her heart.
The ambition of Angelopoulos's concept is matched by the grandeur of his style, which takes his majestically fluid camerawork to new heights of virtuosity and produces a steady stream of stunning images. An ornate theater is converted into a refugee tenement, a tree is festooned with slaughtered sheep, a funeral flotilla glides across a lake's mirrored surface, and an apocalyptic flood drowns the refugees' village, leaving the skeletons of abandoned houses. More boldly than ever, Angelopoulos juggles foreground and background, personal and political, story and history into an epic vision.
170 min., Unrated
In Greek with English Subtitles
THEO ANGELOPOULOS with TONINO GUERRA,
PETROS MARKARIS & GIORGIO SILVAGNI
GIORGOS PATSAS & COSTAS DIMITRIADIS
COSTAS LAMBROPOULOS & NIKOS SEKERIS
A THEO ANGELOPOULOS, GREEK FILM CENTRE, HELLENIC BROADCASTING CORPORATION ERT S.A., ATTICA ART PRODUCTIONS, BAC FILMS S.A., INTERMEDIAS S.A., ARTE FRANCE production with the participation of CANAL + (PARIS), CLASSIC SRL, ISTITUTO LUCE SPA RAI CINEMA (ROME) NETWORK MOVIE REINHOLD ELSCHOT PETER NADERMANN ZDF/ARTE MEINOLF ZURHORST and with the support of the EURIMAGES FUND OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE
Nikos, The Fiddler
Woman in Coffee House
Zissis, The Clarinet Player