Veteran director enjoys the ‘taste of his movies’When the Greek director Theo Angelopoulos was looking around an atomic bomb museum in Hiroshima many years ago, a young man came running to him, screaming and crying.
The corridor was dark but the director could see at a glance that the man was dressed in ragged clothes.
After noting his Korean identity, the young man told the director, with tears pouring from his eyes, “Your film, ‘The Traveling Players,’ is the story of myself, my family and my country.” That encounter was the first time that the master Greek director had met a Korean in his life.
Decades later, the Greek director is visiting Seoul for the first time to introduce a retrospective of his work, with English subtitles, being held at the arthouse theatre Cine Cube through Friday.
Mr. Angelopoulos recei-ved a hearty welcome from the Korean audience in Seoul on Monday.
He was in Korea attending the Pusan International Film Festival, which also ran a retrospective of his work.
Cine Cube will also open two other films by the director: “The Beekeeper” (1986) next week and “Eternity and a Day” (1998) on Nov. 17.
Since his debut in 1970, Mr. Angelopoulos, 68, has achieved worldwide acclaim with his films, in which the director’s critical view is presented through poetic styles.
At the question and ans-wer session with the audience after a preview of “Eternity and a Day” on Monday, Mr. Angelopoulos, who studied film in Paris when he was young, said in French, “Greece and Korea share a similar course of history, suffering from military regimes and wars.”
As a child, the director suffered history’s cruelty, losing his father during the civil war that tore Greece apart in the late 1940s.
He continued, “As a director, I look for something in my country, where ancient sculptures are a part of everyday life and myths float around in the air. What I try to find is a sad and isolated landscape, from which, curiously enough, I draw hope and light.”
He mentioned a scene from the late 1960s, when he was working on his debut film. “I was traveling around the country, and encountered a small village embraced in mist with women walking home.
“The houses built with bricks were wet with drizzle. It was truly a sad moment, but yet there was an old woman singing a song of love. This very moment became a decisive factor for my entire film career.”
Then the director jokingly added, “I don’t shoot whenever there’s sun above.”
Perhaps this explains his 1998 film “Landscape in the Mist,” which won him the director’s award at the Venice International Film Festival.
Films by Mr. Angelopoulos may not be viewer-friendly to those used to fast-paced blockbusters.
His established styles include long takes, which sometimes constitute a whole sequence, and are thus called a “shot sequence.”
There’s hardly a chronological timeline in his films; they usually consist of mythical metaphors.
Asked about his attachment to long takes, Mr. Angelopolous related an anecdote.
“I was having coffee with my longtime Italian script writer. Like any typical Italian, he had his espresso in a few sips, while I took my time with my coffee. Then he asked why I drank coffee so slowly, and I said, ‘You drink your coffee, but I taste my coffee.’ Likewise, I taste my films.”
His answers, as long as his long takes, drew applause from the audience every time.
Describing patience and an attitude that never knows fatigue as qualities required for a director, Mr. Angelopoulos closed the session by saying, “Directing a movie no longer means a job for me. It has become my whole life.”
by Chun Su-jin
Cine Cube is best reached from Seodaemun station on subway line No. 5, exit No. 6. For more information, call (02) 2002-7770 or visit www.cinecube.net