Ulysses' Gaze (1997)
Winner of the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, this drama centers on the Balkan conflict as viewed through the eyes of a filmmaker named A (Harvey Keitel). Director Theo Angelopoulos wrote the screenplay, drawing from personal experiences. A is a Greek émigré director who returns to his homeland after 35 years in the U.S., ostensibly to screen his latest film, which is so controversial that it attracts religious protests. In fact, A's real purpose is to search for three reels of undeveloped film that may be the first ever shot by pioneer Balkan filmmakers the Manakis brothers, who documented simple circa-1900 peasant life. A's Homeric journey includes flashbacks into past historical events. He travels by taxi to Albania, where he enlists the help of a film archivist (Maia Morgenstern, who plays all four female roles). She joins him on a train ride to Bucharest, Romania. An extensive flashback chronicles A's childhood under Communism in Bucharest. His next stop is Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, where he is directed to Sarajevo. Angelopoulos mixes scenes shot during the actual Balkan war with historic re-enactments and dreamscapes to examine the role of the artist in political upheaval. ~ Michael Betzold, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for Ulysses' Gaze
Magisterially filmed, this movie demands at almost every instant to be regarded as a masterpiece, though for me it's too full of itself and its own virtue. Still, I can't deny it's an experience worth having.
Constructed from long elegant takes, and moving fluidly between naturalism and tableaux-like theatricality, it's a mesmerising work of arresting beauty and impressive emotional power.
The overall effect is genuinely entrancing, with a sense of tragic inevitability that gives meaning to the film's maddeningly attenuated rhythms.
This grim travelogue through a landscape of despair lacks internal power. It feels labored and portentous.
Modernist stylization has its place in narrative film, but in this case less would have meant much more.
If you looked up in a reference book why most people hate foreign films you would probably see pictures of Ulysses’ Gaze staring back at you.
This ambitious film fails to compel. Too many closeups of disposed Lenin statues.
While it's beautiful, even graceful, and though its heart is in the right place, there's just as much to condemn as there is in its favor.
Journalistic fairness compels me to note that this film won a Special Jury Prize at Cannes. However, I strongly suspect that those judges were cowed more than won over. We don't have to make the same mistake.
It has a remoteness, with the viewer always the observer, not the participant.
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