The first in a proposed trilogy of films from veteran Greek writer-director Theo Angelopoulos, The Weeping Meadow tells the story of orphaned girl Eleni (Alexandra Aidini), adopted by a Greek family returning to their homeland in 1919 after the Russian Revolution. We follow Eleni through adolescence, marriage to her musician half-brother Alexis (Nikos Poursanidis), and motherhood, and see how her life and those of her husband and twin children are ripped apart by World War II and the ensuing Greek Civil War.
Angelopoulos draws on all manner of Greek myths surrounding wandering, passion and exile in The Weeping Meadow - in interviews he has described his female protagonist as 'the Eleni of myth, the Eleni of all the myths who is pursued... but who also pursues absolute love'. The film though is no arid exercise in historical recreation, and those without any prior knowledge of Hellenism shouldn't be dissuaded.
"MESMERISING IMAGES WITHOUT DIGITAL EFFECTS"
Favouring his trademark lengthy travelling shots, Angelopoulos and cinematographer Andreas Sinanos conjure up a range of mesmerising images created without reliance on digital effects: hundreds of white sheets billowing on washing lines, the interior of an opera house converted into a makeshift refugee settlement, a vast floating funeral procession with black flags attached to the rowing boats, and the waters practically closing over a flooded village.
Water is a crucial motif in The Weeping Meadow, where history itself resembles a force of nature, shattering societies and arbitrarily sweeping away the lives of human beings: Angelopoulos keeps off-screen the most harrowing events, such as Alexis's experiences in the Pacific campaign, concentrating his focus on an increasingly grief-stricken Eleni. Occasionally confusing in its plotting, it remains an imposing and visually accomplished work.
In Greek with English subtitles