Scholars' Association News
Issue 22
May 2012


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The Interview
Theo Angelopoulos talks to Christos Godas about his film "The Landscape in the Mist"

The following interview took place during Christos Godas’ postgraduate studies at the Film Department, School of Communication, University of Miami. It was part of a research assignment that focused on the process of shaping the final audiovisual product of a fiction film, from the early script writing till the screening. Part of this research concerned Theo Angelopoulos’ film “The Landscape in the Mist”. The world of Theo Angelopoulos surfaces clearly from the questions and answers of this interview, as well as his stance toward history and the major political and social phenomena. At the same time the great artist himself gives an answer about his chosen form of narration to which he remained obsessively attached against all criticism.

(The conversation took place on December 7, 2000, at 7am U.S. Eastern Time – 2pm in Greece)

Girl’s Voice: Hello. (his daughter)
Christos Godas: Hello, may I speak to Mr. Angelopoulos please?
Girl’s Voice: Who is calling? (somebody picked up another phone connected on the same line)
C.G.: My name is Christos Godas.
Woman’s Voice (his wife): Yes, just a minute please.
Theo Angelopoulos: Hello.

C.G.: Good afternoon over there Mr. Angelopoulos, Christos Godas speaking from Miami.
T.A.: Oh yes.
C.G.: How are you doing?
T.A.: Very well, thank you.

C.G.: I would like to ask you some questions about the changes that you have done from the first draft to the screen.
T.A.: O.K. You want to talk about “The Landscape in the Mist”, right?

C.G.: Yes, yes, of course. I observed that generally you stay on the first draft’s lines.
T.A.: Yes it is true. Even though I use to change a ton of items from script to screen, this is one of the very few scripts that I kept it as it was.

C.G.: One of the main changes is that the mother is absent in the movie. The kid’s mother exists in the script, but the movie is absolutely impersonal opposite to the father, who even though doesn’t appear, has a much more active place in the development of the story. The mother’s absence did happen before the shooting or not?

T.A.: No, no. We shot the scene, but I preferred to leave it out. I wanted to give the meaning of the father under a wider consideration. I wanted to mention the father to throw a symbolical meaning far away from the realism.

C.G.: There is another change in scene 16. The event between the kid that is in his bed because of his broken leg and Alexander (the boy) – they look at each other through a window and laugh at each other- does not exist. Did you shoot it?

T.A.: No, I never shot it. I cut it before the shooting.

C.G.: Please tell me about the surrealistic element in the movie. I mean, what about the scene number 29 in which there is a ladder on the beach that goes to the sky; also in scene number 31 in the script you describe that four scuba-divers pull the marble hand on the surface of the sea. In the movie the marble hand immerges by itself.

T.A.: This is the point of a fairy tale. I go on the same line as I told you before. I mean that the whole story moves on a line of imagination. There is ‘the miracle’ as a main element of the narration. There is a vital meaning of ‘the miracle’ in the story. Also, as you have already seen, I have added a new element in scene 27. In the script there is no description about the huge excavating machine with which the kids come face to face. I decided to add this because the image of this machine works as a dragon of a fairy tail.

C.G.: My impression is that the existence of the players is related with your movie “Travelling Players”.

T.A.: It is a clear reference to the movie, that’s true. You know the kids travel. This is a trip into my world… into a sense of time and place.

C.G.: That was my speculation.

T.A.: It is correct, the reference to the movie “Travelling Players” is conscious and clear.

C.G.: Do the players sign the Greek history? And is the Greek history that is for sale, when they sell the costumes which they wear in the play?

T.A.: Yes, but it is not the end of the history. I don’t share Fukuyama’s opinion about the end of history. What I mean in the movie is there is a disposition for part of the story.

C.G.: I would like you to comment on both the scene in which it snows and the kids escape from the police station and the scene with the horse that dies. Would we interpret this scene as the end of innocence?

T.A.: The scene with the snow… The snow reflects the kids’ desire to go away. The desire is so strong that the imaginary father, or an imaginary sign, produces a miracle: makes people frozen and kids invisible. About the scene with the horse: The entire trip is a trip in the experience. The kids take the taste of life. Their trip is a trip of initiation. That is what the French call with the specific term ‘voyage de initiation’. This is the meaning of the scene in which the boy works to win two sandwiches and by the way he perceives the meaning of work and gain. This is the meaning of the scene with the horse; the kids have their first touch with death. On the same line, there is a series of events that make the two kids feel the taste of life…The same happens in the scene of the rape; Voula perceives the hardness of the world.

C.G.: So when Orestis says to Voula: “It is always like this the first time”, with “it” he means their separations but at the same time he means the first time of love- meaning the rape.

T.A.: Yes, you are correct. This sentence can have both meanings.

C.G.: Did you choose the name Orestis by chance or is it a conscious choice due to any reason, and if yes, what was it?

T.A.: No the name Orestis is a legacy from the “Travelling Players”. This is one version of interpretation. There is a second version too. Because the players travel around Greece and through the time, the young man can be a new actor who plays the role of Orestis. By this explanation it is understandable that these two movies come into each other. The young man can be Orestis from “Travelling Players” - the child Orestis that has grown up.

C.G.: Using the piece of the film in which the landscape in the mist is exposed, cinema is promoted by the medium itself, something that we see often in Nouvelle Vangue and Zac Lyc Godar, particularly.

T.A.: Yes, it is a reference to the medium of cinema but it’s not the only time that I do that. In “Ulysse’s Gaze”, the entire movie is a reference to the art of cinema. This reference exists in “The Representation” and in “The Apiarist” too. In “The Apiarist” I narrate a story which takes place in a film director’s mind. After this he transforms the people of his environment, to the characters of a possible next movie. That people have double existence, double hypostasis, firstly as their role in the first fiction and secondly as their role in the second fiction that exists in the first, which is the movie.

C.G.: The last question is about the very long shot in the scene of the rehearsal. It is 6’10” long shot with extremely complicated movement. Is there any special reason, because you chose to show the Greek story – throw actor’s words- with such a long shot?

T.A.: This is the kind of shot that is very familiar to me. I prefer this kind of shot. Specifically for this shot, everybody was moving around an axle.

C.G.: I suppose that the crew stood behind the bus, because the camera rotates one complete circle and half more, 540 degrees.

T.A.: Camera actors and crew pivot around an axle.

C.G.: Thank you very much Mr. Angelopoulos. What you told me is very helpful for my project.

T.A.: You are very welcome.

C.G.: Thank you very much. I’ll be in Greece on the 14th of December, I’ll be very glad to have a meeting, for a dinner of whatever.

T.A.: I’ll be out of the country on the 14th. How long are you going to stay?

C.G.: I’ll stay for a month.

T.A.: O.K. I’ll be glad too, to meat each other.

C.G.: Thank you again, have a nice afternoon.

T.A.: All the best for you. Bye.

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