The on more personal and unique perspective than political

            The
director of Ulysses’ Gaze (1995), Theo
Angelopoulos is one of the most popular director of Greek cinema. Also, he is
one of the most important contemporary representatives of artistic cinema. Angelopoulos
has a politic aim and followed a path of Marxist idea throughout in his films.

He describes his ideological thoughts by using emotional and poetical language and
visions in his poetic cinema. In his cinema career, Angelopoulos, like most of
the great filmmakers, continued a remarkable aesthetic harmony in his output.

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There was always a slow, thoughtful movement to his films, highlighted by his
twisting, single-take camera movements, usually floating across empty landscapes
that suggest a time and place out of step with the modern world, and this was
accomplished by a gloomy musical composition by Eleni Karaindrou. In his film Ulysses’
Gaze, he focuses on more personal and unique perspective than political views. In
the film Ulysses’ Gaze, A (Harvey Keitel), is a Greek filmmaker and director
himself, coming to his homeland from US after 35 years of absence to attend the
reveal one of his film, which is so controversial that it seduces fanatic
religious protests. Actually, A’s real aim is to search for three long reels of
undeveloped film that may be the first ever shot by pioneer Balkan filmmakers
the Manakis brothers, who recorded simple peasant – rural life. A’s journey
contains flashbacks into his past and historical events. He travels by taxi to
Albania, where he enlists the help of a film archivist (Maia Morgenstern, who
plays all four female characters). She accompanies him on a train, road to
Bucharest, Romania. An extensive flashback narration A’s childhood under
Communism in Bucharest. His next stop is Belgrade, where he is directed to
Sarajevo facing with the war of Balkans. This essay will analyse scenes from
Ulysses’ Gaze in terms of film techniques and meaning.

            The
first and opening scene of Ulysses’ Gaze begins with a flashback to one of the
Manakis brothers, Yanakis Manakis. When the camera goes panning along a pier,
an old man who used to be assistant of Yanakis Manakis, tells A a story that
Manakis had wanted to take a photograph of sailing blue ship. Then we see two
men, Manakis and his assistant on the pier. Manakis is having a heart attack
and died while he is photographing blue ship. When the scene starts panning
from left to right the color of the scene changes from the past’s black and
white to present’s color film. Also, we can understand the time of flashback by
the clothes of the Manakis and his assistant. While Manakis is in 1900’s
clothes, his assistant is in today’s clothes. Angelopoulos caught a small but
big point by the difference of clothes in this scene instead of using some
special effects to address flashback. At the same time, the assistant of
Manakis tells A the story merely by walking a few steps toward A, as the ship
leaves the pier. In this scene, with few slow, horizontal camera movements and
long take shot, Greek director Angelopoulos shows how simple camera movements
can create a complex plot with a simple dialog from the Manakis’ assistant. As
soon as Manakis’ assistant finished his speech, A starts walking with panning and
gradually zooming camera, and looking through the ship and say “…the three
reels, the journey…” this catchword is also summarising the film. The journey
of first gaze. When we look at the Keitel’s character A undoubtedly stands for
Angelopoulos. Greek director mirrored himself to A. Angelopoulos first wanted
to give A’s role to Al Pacino but when he saw Harvey Keitel’s performance he
wanted to give him this character. Keitel is a great spontaneous actor and good
at reflecting his thoughtful soul with his slow measured acts so that he
perfectly fit the A’s character. We can see A’s actions, thoughts for the “three
reels” in the following scene, where he returned to his roots Florina for the
opening his latest film The Suspended
Step of The Stork (1991) -which is actually Angelopoulos film- the film is
screening in the Florina square because the film is banned by the fanatic
protestants and they don’t allow people to watch it at the cinemas. For this
reason, people are standing with umbrellas in rainy night listening the film in
the streets. This scene is an example of long take shot when three-minute
lateral tracking shot passes the umbrella-holding peoples of Florina, a camera
movement that is perfectly combined with the periodic ringing of the city’s bells.