Mia aioniotita kai mia mera (1998)
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I got a new film to obsess about, a new favorite to push on everyone I know - and to think that I had a copy of this film in my collection for some years! It makes me wonder how many more future favorite films of mine, how many more reflections of my dreams, kin spirits to my soul I have yet to watch in my own collection! This film touched me so deeply that I started to cry while watching it, not because it was sad but because it was so beautiful. Every shot was like a reflection of my psyche. I really don't know where to start to express my love and fondness for this film. Well, first, it is the last film in a trilogy about borders, which stars with The Suspended Step of the Stork (which I have not seen but will watch now or tomorrow) and continued with Ulysses’ Gaze, which I have seen, loved and planed to write a comment on but never got around to. Both films (and it would not surprise me if all of them do) are heavily based on Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. They are about a man who is lost, and looking for him self. In Ulysses’ Gaze the main character travels from one country to another to another... but still these borders he is crossing are just symbols for borders within him self.
In this film the borders symbolise two or three things. For the young Albanian it symbolises the hopelessness he is running from and the hope of the future (what he is trying to run to) and in the life of Alexandre, played brilliantly by Bruno Ganz, it symbolises his last journey to the other side (death). Both are exiles, the Albanian boy is an exile from his own country and Alexandre is an exile from his own life. He has failed to connect to people and missed out on what gives life a meaning. On this (what might be his) last day, he tries to reach out and touch and be touched. He tries to live his life as he maybe should have. Alexandre is in a way Odysseus, looking for his Penelope (his wife) and his home (his life). The Albanian boy might be regarded as Telemachus, the son who looks for his father.
The idea of a poet buying words to finish a poem is so genius that I immediately became jealous of Angelopoulos to come up with it. Apparently he thought it was a true story about the Greek poet, Dionysios Solomos. He kept it in the film even though he found out it was not true because he thought the idea was so poetic. Yes, that it is. It is brilliant!
Now regarding the end. SPOILERS!!! Alexandre buys three words from the Albanian boy (words the boy heard from people in Thessaloniki, a city I have visited and LOVE). These three words say everything we need to know about Alexandre and his wife. She is dead and he is now finally returning to her, an exile going home. Try not to cry during the last scene and if you can then your heart is made out of stone! END OF SPOILERS!!!
I have to say a few words about the cinematography. This is one of the most beautifully filmed movie I have ever seen. Every scene, every second kept me spellbound. There are especially two scenes that struck, one is the end, which is maybe what this film is best known for and the other scene is a scene that will probably mean little for others. It is the scene in the bus. There was something so perfect about it, like a snapshot of life, which starts and ends at the same place.
I guess I don't need to say that I think this film is a masterpiece. 10/10
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In 2 official lists
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This movie ranks #71 in Cannes Film Festival - Palme d'Or
This movie ranks #418 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films: 1001-2000