On New Year's Eve, a bourgeoisie group of hunters finds the frozen body of a long dead WWII partisan fighter. They spend the night debating what to do with it, which reveals their sins from the war and leads to their symbolic punishment.
It is New Year's Eve. 1976. On a Greek island a party of bourgeois hunters comes upon a body, buried in the snow and miraculously preserved by the cold. By his uniform, he appears to be one of the thousands of partisans killed during the civil war and the hunting party, a group of the ruling elite, must now decide what to do with the body. When they disinter it, blood begins to flow from the wounds in the partisan's body and they carry it back to the lodge where the inquest begins. The film becomes a biting commentary, an extraordinary allegory for the persistence of guilt in which Greece's post-war Right is placed symbolically on trial in a series of tableaux in which the hunters are faced with their re-created sins. Merging poetic metaphor and historic reconstruction each member of the hunting party views the body on the makeshift bier: the colonel and his wife, the businessman, the ex-prefect of police, now a publisher, the ex-partisan who is now a wealthy contractor, the ...Written by
The copy in Cannes festival in 1977, run's longer 02:51:27 vs 02.23.21 (167min vs 144min). The longer version release in a chinese DvD bootleg produce a certain quiproquo when the official DvD release went out in UK and France. The Swiss editor Trigon-film confirm that the shorter version is considerate as the director's cut. The director removed some scenes that already been in the film or in the figures. See more »
Powerful, surreal examination of politics, time, guilt and memories
A striking, powerful follow up and companion piece to the epic 4 hour "The Traveling Players", Angelopolous further refines his complex visual style, jumping backwards and forwards in time, often, remarkably all in the same shot. (There are several very long takes here that are simply astounding, tracking us right out of the 1970s into the1960s and then the 1940s and back again).
A group of hunters in 1977 find a communist revolutionary, dressed in period clothing, freshly shot to death in the snow. But how can this be? All the Communists were executed or exiled back in 1949.
The subsequent surreal exploration of the past and present – of each character and of Greece itself – is a challenging statement on guilt, denial, moral confusion and self- deception.
This may be the best of all Andropolous' films at making multiple time periods dance together in the same scenes, often in the same shot, sometimes in the same frame (!). He uses cinema in a unique way to examine how the past shapes the present, and how we in the present re-shape the past in our memories.
And while this is all quite serious, the film also has a bleak sense of humor that shows its head now and again.
A difficult, but tremendously rewarding film.
Note: There seem to be two versions of the film in existence, both supposedly 'approved' by the director. A 143 minute version (available on the new Artificial eye Andropoulos box set) and a longer 168 minute version, which I have not been able to find with subtitles, although there are non-subtitled Japanese and Chinese DVDs. This review is based on the Artificial Eye version.
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