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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
SPOILER insofar that an attempt is made to interpret the end of the
If John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress" is the greatest work of road literature, Theo Angelopoulos's "Landscape in the Mist" deserves similar status among road movies. I use this association deliberately as far too often this film is merely described as the search of an adolescent girl and her small brother for their father whom they have been led to believe has left their native Greece and is living in Germany.If this was all the film was about it would make little sense, for although set within the parameters of reality (wintry landscapes often brutalised by industry), strange things continually happen; a horse dies in a freezing square at night just as a wedding party is breaking up, people rush from a building as the first snowfall is announced and stand transfixed like statues gazing upwards, an elderly man enters an otherwise empty cafe and plays a melancholy tune on a violin for the small boy who has gone there in search of food, a helicopter slowly draws a giant sculptured hand from the sea until it is poised high above a harbour. And then there is the tiny fragment of photographic negative found in a city street that the boy then carries with him and which seems to show a solitary tree in a misty landscape which in turn becomes the background for the final shot of the film. It is impossible not to interpret the work as anything other than an allegory, like Bunyan's, as a quest for spiritual enlightenment. Only then can we understand that the border between Greece and the North is metaphysical rather than national. As the children cross from one country to another in a landscape completely shrouded in mist shots of border guards break out. Only through the transition between life and death can they reach the place they have been seeking. Since the loss of Satyajit Ray the mantle of the world's greatest director has, in my opinion, passed to Angelopoulos. "Landscape in the Mist" is the most sublime work he has yet given us.
A hard film to watch but an unforgettable experience. I was deeply
moved by the damage done to these children in the raw, emptiness of the
world of this film. Running away through Greece to seek out their
theoretical father in an imagined Germany, they experience confusion,
violation and epic indifference to their real and imagined needs.
Momentary relief and hope is found in the form of a young man traveling
with a theater company, but it is fleeting. The sheer simplicity of
their need remain together and to go to Germany is, by the end, all
that they have.
Angelopoulos, like other artists/poets/philosophers in film, has a very specific vision of the world which he is relating. There are moments in Landscape In The Mist where our trained needs for (Hollywood) film conventions, story structure and even simple answers cries out. Yet this is far from his intent; as with poetry, the film strives to state itself with images and ideas which leave the viewer not simply awed by beauty but also perplexed and emotionally disorganized as to how or what to to feel. To judge Angelopoulos on the same standards as a showbiz product is to miss the point. He believes film is art and not necessarily entertainment. One may dislike that vision but one will invariably be enriched by the journey if one can spend the time watching it with an open mind. Angelopoulos finds funding for his films and makes them for those who care to extend themselves into someone else's vision, not to reward investors by meeting a market need. He is a powerful artist. There are reasons why his films are not well known in the US, but those reasons are also what makes them fascinating, brilliant and rare experiences.
I saw this movie when it was playing in Berkeley in 1990. This is one of the most beautiful and haunting films I have ever seen. Filled with scenes of mythic beauty and magical realism. It is, on the surface, about two siblings search for their father, but it is also about the search for something both less obvious and more universal. It haunted my dreams for months and some of the images in this film have stayed with me to this day. If you are of a philosophical bent and are open to the experience, I believe you will enjoy this film very much.
Every once in a while a great film comes along which seems to transcend the medium, to give one faith in the movies, even hope that everything on this planet is not futile. LANDSCAPE IN THE MIST is such a film. It has garnered a great deal of critical acclaim wherever it has been shown and a top prize at the 1988 Venice Film Festival. LANDSCAPE IN THE MIST is the story of two Greek children, 11-year-old Voula and her 5-year-old brother Alexander, who wander across the start Greek winter landscape as they attempt to make their way, by train and by other means, to Germany. It is almost a mythic quest to find their father, who in reality does not even exist. Around this delicate framework, Angelopoulos has fashioned a work of soaring lyricism, a film of magniloquent majesty, a haunting poem that moves us to the depth of our souls. As with the work of some other great directors like Bergman, Kurosawa, Rossellini, Bresson and Antonioni, Angelopoulos' films require an especially intense effort on the part of the audience not often required or inclined to give itself so fully to a movie that even the consumption of popcorn seems an obscenity. Credit has to be given also to the photography of Giorgos Arvanitis and the impassioned musical backdrop of Eleni Karaindrou who would receive such acclaim for her score for Angelopoulos' subsequent ULYSSES' GAZE. Tonino Guerra, one of Fellini's constant scriptwriters, collaborated on the script.
Seen the movie in HK International Film Festival over 16 years ago and still could not stop crying whenever I think of the kids in the movie. Be prepare for a sad story. Yet, the whole movie was filmed so artistically and many scenes are so creative (esp. at the age of the production.) This is the only movie still linger in my brain from time to time. Still miss the kids in the movie and wish to be there to get them out of the difficult situations. It is the power of the movie, the power of the director/writer, the little actress and actor. No more description can replace the movie itself. To fill up lines - being a mom of 2 now after the years, I miss the kids in the movie even more.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Edit: could whoever two people are responsible: what exactly did you
find unhelpful about my review? Thanks.
When I first saw this film it was a random pick out of the library that looked interesting. I had not ever heard of it or read a single review. When I saw it I was convinced that it was one of the best and most beautiful films I had ever seen. Later, when I checked too see other reviews, they were all nasty and gave the film a very painful treatment. Worried, I went to see it again - had I overpraised it? Had I missed some flaws? No, I was right, and I'm sure the people who disagreed were wrong now. The film is still one of the best films ever made. It has been said to be a blend of Fellini and Traffaut - that is a fairly good description on the grounds that it is about kids (Traffaut) and has some fairly Fellini-esquire moments (noticeably, one scene where the children escape a police station because everyone in the station and on the street are frozen in time watching the snow fall). But it wouldn't be fair to neglect Theo Angeloupos (probably spelling error, sorry) own incredible style, one that still seems fresh after many years because of the films obscurity it has been scarcely imitated. The gorgeous photography (by Yorgos Arvanitis) strays almost completely from close ups - in fact, there may not be a single close up in the entire film.
The story centers on two children who run away from their single mother in search of a father her mother says lives in Germany. In reality, we hear her mother say in the beginning of the film, he does not exist. The older adolescent girl overhears this but refuses to believe it, and she takes her much smaller brother on a road trip to the north Greek border. Over one winter they wander through snowy landscapes starkly contrasted against the industrial cities and highways. They almost starve several times, they are occasionally pursued by police, at one point it is implied that the adolescent girl, Voula, is raped. At many times during their journey they encounter a friendly traveling theater actor who gives them rides. The whole film the children are searching for their father, the "Landscape in the Mist" - it can only exist if you imagine it. Sadly, Alexander and Voula do not accept the actor as a father figure, because their determined journey says their father is in Germany, not Greece. If only they had!...unfortunately, it would not have made a difference - the actor has been drafted into the Greek army.
Towards the end of the film they watch with amazement as a helicopter pulls a giant statue of a god-like hand out of large river and flies it towards the faraway city - I wouldn't be given this scene so shamelessly away if it weren't for the fact they show it in the poster anyway...the spoiler warning is also up. But it's really there for:
At the end of the film the Alexander (the boy) and Voula attempt to cross the Greek border by rowing a boat across the river. They are spotted from a watchtower and fired upon. The next morning, it seems they have crossed the river and are wandering through a hilly place where it is so misty they can hardly see ten yards ahead of them. A lone, leafless tree becomes visible and they wander towards it. The camera does not follow them. Fade to black. Have they successfully crossed the border? Have they been shot and died, and reached some kind of afterlife? It's not clear, but we celebrate their victory that they have finally discovered the impossible: a landscape in the mist.
THE SPOILERS ARE OVER...BUT SO IS THE REVIEW!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is not Angelopoulos' masterpiece (as the DVD would like one to believe), but there are still sequences of enormous beauty and emotion (even if some seem more contrived than organic). In this piece, Angelopoulos readily excels in his portrayal of violence, which is really very disturbing. Angelopoulos is not so successful in relating to the young girl in quite the same, effective way that he handles her younger brother and the young actor going into the army. One is tempted to think this is because he avoids close-ups (especially in the scene where she yells at her uncle), but, on the other hand, the same visual style is applied to the other characters. Perhaps it is Angelopoulos' own personal inability to relate to the young woman's plight in the story. The ending, however, of "Landscape in the Midst," like, "The Travelling Players" is quite transcendent and unforgettable. Even with all of its flaws, this is still one of the most moving pictures ever.
To me, this is one of the greatest movies of all time. Art and a very touching and interesting story combine each other and create this masterpiece with some unforgettable scenes, images and a mesmerizing cinematography. At the beginning, we do not see the mother of the little sisters, only hear her voice. While watching this scene, I thought that it is to make us feel that the sisters are lonely, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about them. In another scene, the sisters visit a man who is probably one of their relatives. However, he looks disturbed when he sees them. The Petrifying truck scene is a story itself. This scene is horrible in terms of content, but enchanting in terms of cinema. And sharp realism. If there is a flaw in the movie, it is the final. It was obscure and not stunning as the rest of the movie. I mean the scene takes place at night. It could have been a bit different, less obscure. Instead of commenting the end of the movie, some say that it is one of the finals that everyone draws their own conclusion, but for such a content or story, it does not seem a good idea. By the way, always, especially critics say this is a story of getting conscious or growing in wisdom, if a movie is about a little girl or boy. Well, this is not actually, the movie is much more than that and much more different. And as you guess, no cliché. The older sister is conscious anyway. She is aware of everything like an adult, even if she sometimes falls. The both sisters are very courageous and at the same time naive. I wanted to help them in the times they need. However, the weather is cold, desolate ways. Unsafe and risky. The vehicles pass them carelessly and don't stop. Probably the best Angelopoulos movie.
Landscape in the Mist is the tale of two Greek siblings (a girl and a
boy) who one day decide to travel to Germany to search for his unknown
father. Fifteen minutes into the film we learn that the father in
question, doesn't real exist. In fact, we also learn from the children'
uncle (her mother's brother) that it all has been a lie as the children
are the result of different love affairs. In most conventional movies,
this early discovery would ruin the plot, hence the rest of film, but
here it becomes the turning point into the children' odyssey since it
fuels up their desire to meet his father. From that towards, the film
shows us thew siblings mixed up in the raw atmosphere of the adult
world, surrounded by bleach landscapes and a misty never-ending who
serves at the only witness for the children descend into adulthood.
There, in the battlefield of an unknown world, our main characters
encounter many challenges, but they all together manage the constant
menace of a number of difficult situations, thanks in a part by a good
natured youngster named Oreste. However, he is not always present for
the children (due to their constant moving) and at the end, one has the
feeling that after all, they are alone to face their fate; which in my
opinion reflects the paradox of a new born child.
Landscape in the Mist is a piece of art, a masterpiece so well crafted that makes think about it even if you haven't watch it in years. It so powerful and yet so sad, like a misty sky in a rainy day. HIGHLY RECOMMENDABLE. IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I seem to have the same reaction to each of Angelopoulos' films; flawed
genius. But in each film, the flaws and what feels masterful is
Mild spoilers ahead...
In this story of a 12 year old girl and her younger brother on a fruitless journey for their non- existent father in Germany what works is the ultimate emotional impact of the piece (it left me in tears), and (as always) the sheer poetic power of some of Angelopoulos' images.
On the other hand, a key supporting character (the youthful actor Oresteis) is thinly written and exists basically as an overly-convenient plot point. Some of the dialogue and ideas feel heavy handed, and some images are lifted from other director's films. And the references to his own earlier film 'The Traveling Players' are an interesting, brave style choice, but also a bit distracting and intellectual. The young girl's acting is mostly terrific, but the young boy feels fake at times, which doesn't help.
There are scenes I'll never forget. Maybe the most disturbing (yet completely hidden) rape scene I've ever seen. But other scenes feel awkward or forced.
This is the kind of film that may grow on revisiting, and I certainly plan to see it again.
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