Sunday, March 17, 2013

604. O Thiassos/The Travelling Players (1975)

Running Time: 230 minutes
Directed By: Theo Angelopoulos
Written By: Theo Angelopoulos
Main Cast: Eva Kotamanidou, Aliki Georgouli, Vangelis Kazan, Stratos Pahis, Maria Vassiliou
Click here to view the trailer


After years of searching for it and three sittings to finish watching it, I can finally mark "The Travelling Players" off my list, courtesy of twenty-three, ten minute YouTube links, totaling nearly four hours. The end result was one of the damndest things THE BOOK has put me through.

To be 100% honest with you, I'm not entirely sure I can even put forth a synopsis for this one, because for the most part I had no idea what was even going on in this one. I tried my best to follow along (as I always do) but I was lost within the first half hour and it didn't get any easier to follow along. The characters, for the most part were nameless. I guess they had names, but they weren't repeated enough and therefore I didn't recollect them, which made it hard to follow along. From what I got, the film is basically about a group of traveling actors (players) who go from town to town, to put on a play called Golfo the Shepherdess. Every time they try to actually put on a show, however, they're interrupted by some significant event in history - I do believe on one occasion they're interrupted by the Nazi invasion. From what I could gather, the film takes place throughout the course of roughly thirteen years. When the film starts, we see the players arriving in Aegion (a Greek city) circa 1952. However, the film's final shot shows the players arriving in Aegion (same city) in 1939, which, as you can gather, tells us that the film is told in a severely non-linear form and throughout the picture we change years sporadically and always without warning. There, that's my best shot at telling you what "The Travelling Players" is all about.

Let me tell you why I don't want to rip this film apart though, even though I totally should. Because the damn thing looks better than 90% of the movies I've watched for THE BOOK. According to THE BOOK Angelopoulos, along with cinematographer Yorgos Arvanitis, prided themselves on, and I quote, "flowing, precisely choreographed long takes". Get this: The film, and remember it's about four hours long, only implements about 80 takes. 80 TAKES! That's unbelievable. Oh and what marvelous, sometimes breath taking takes they are, as it's beautifully obvious that Angelopoulos and Arvanitis took the time to make sure they got the best shot. If you're a sucker for a beautiful film, then forget everything I just said (or tried to) about the plot and watch this, because if your jaw drops easily, be prepared to hold it up. I can't stress enough how gorgeous this film looks and I've included an extra photo just to remember it by - like taking pictures while on vacation.

Other than that, the film was a total miss for me. There was ENTIRELY too much singing - and seriously folks, must we have subtitles for singing? I mean, if it's not absolutely essential to understanding the plot, can't we just listen to the song, without having to try to read the words and correlate them to the singing dialogue of the actors? Speaking of dialogue, there wasn't much (unless you count singing) which may have been another reason I had a hard time keeping track of characters, because if the characters did have names, they simply weren't used that much. Again, I reiterate that I'm no history buff, so movies that pertain to pieces of world history that I'm completely unfamiliar with, usually bore me. I'd say even if you are familiar with the history of Greece, during the time period of 1939 to 1952, you'd still have a hard time keeping track of the film flip flopping from year to year with no notice. Watching this, however, did remind me how good "Landscape in the Mist" was and since it looked really good too, I may have to revisit that one someday - without looking, I feel like I was much too hard on it. I will also say that despite my extreme dislike for this picture, I did do an IMDB search for Theo Angelopoulos after I was finished and added four of his movies to my watchlist, because - and I can't stress this enough - this film looks SOOO good.

RATING: 3/10  ...But much like a pretty girl with a sock full of rocks for brains, looks only get you so far. When you factor in the extreme length and my dislike, this really was yet another example of pure torture reigned upon me by THE BOOK.


March 17, 2013  11:36pm
Happy St. Patrick's Day


  1. Regretably, I can find nothing to disagree with you on this. You have got just about all the things i would say..
    Such a dissapointment too.. I so liked 'Landscapes',Long, beautiful languid takes and - for me- a good dollop of history/politics should have been right up my street..
    As you say, the disjointed chronology was so hard to follow.. I suspected that, if you are Greek, the clues are all there.. maybe in the music (the equivalent of playing 'love me do' to show it is now 1963), maybe in snatches of news on the radio or newspapers (like hearing Nixon talk in the backround, or a headline saying "another recount in Florida" would). The clothing seemed to always look the same...
    I really do not mind long films.. but I'm afraid, as you did, this became a chore...

    1. Glad we could agree on another one Ray. I too have no problem with long movies, but this really got to be a huge chore after only about an hour in (probably before that). I'll just say that I'm glad it's behind me and keep looking ahead.


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #66: La piscine/The Swimming Pool (1969)

Running Time: 120 minutes Directed By: Jacques Deray Written By: Jean-Claude Carriere, Jacques Deray, Alain Page Main Cast: Alain Del...