The Travelling Players (O thiasos) (1976)
Critic Reviews for The Travelling Players (O thiasos)
The Travelling Players is one of the major neglected movie masterpieces of our times.
The stately pace of the film soon becomes compulsive; and the shabby provincial Greece of rusting railway tracks and flaking facades which the slow camera examines is visually beguiling.
Length is part of its problem. A much greater problem is that the political message that is only one of the threads in the first part thickens into hawser dimensions, strangling the film and the audience along with it.
Even the most clueless outsider can still soak in the magisterial beauty of Angelopoulos' images, which mournfully depict corroded buildings and emptied streets while celebrating the country's enduring natural beauty.
With its stately pace and obscure references to mythology and contemporary events, the film requires patience. But its power and intelligence more than repay the effort.
Although there are any number of subtle moments in the film, even its admirers admit it is long and difficult, especially for audiences unfamiliar with its subject matter.
Audience Reviews for The Travelling Players (O thiasos)
This is a VERY big film. It encompasses the various sentiments, turmoils, and livelihoods of the Greek people for more than a decade of one of the most troubled times of the past century. It shows how some people lived and some people simply got by during fascism, invasion, occupation, and civil war. All this by following a small group of actors. It's an ambitious work and not the easiest to watch, but a brilliant film nonetheless.
There is simply so much going on under the surface of this film that I am tempted to start it back from the beginning right now. I'm right on the verge of considering it a masterpiece but it's just to gargantuan to intake in one viewing. The story is wonderfully layered, organically shot and acted, and just all around bursting with little character details. This is only my second dive into Angelopoulos, but I'm surely going to jump again soon. My only minor complaint is the length can be felt harshly at times, but once the film ends and it all comes into place, you understand why it had to be this long.
Great movies can be long, and great movies can be slow, but when it's long AND slow, you better have a damn good reason for it. And Angelopolous does not have a good reason. Endless shots of people walking from one place to another. Another big stumbling block is that it requires some knowledge not only about mid-20th century Greece, but ancient Greek mythology. I won't deny that there are some interesting scenes. But the boring stretches in between are too great, and it's not worth the wait.
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