A Dreamy Voyage

In a sense, Greek mega-art-film master Theo Angelopoulos is to world movie culture what Thomas Pynchon is to the modern novel—the work is so sublime and so ravishingly executed, that few of us could be bothered with it. His very excellence defines him as marginal. By his standards alone a slight film, Eternity and a Day nonetheless won the Palme d'Or at Cannes; it's T.A.'s answer to Bergman's Wild Strawberries and Fellini's 8 1/2, a dreamy, subjective voyage through the memory-toggled consciousness of an aging artist (Bruno Ganz, as a famous Greek poet) alone in a crowded, chaotic world. Joining him eventually is an Albanian orphan, freshly escaped from kidnappers looking to sell him to adoptive Westerners; you're never in doubt that the film's melancholic crisis is Europe's, not merely the hero's. And the money sequences are typically breath-catching: Ganz watching the immigrant orphans escaping from a police raid right in the middle of a busy street; the vision at the Greek-Albanian border, as dozens of refugees cling to a huge barbed-wire fence in the blinding snow. Extras include a hunk of French TV that, with Angelopoulos's help, deconstructs the film's famously huge, one-shot finale.

 
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