Landscape in the Mist

Theo Angelopoulous, Greece/France/Italy, 1988, 127 minutes

Road movies are not a novelty in Angelopoulos' cimema. From his universally acclaimed The Travelling Players to The Bee-Keeper, his characters have always been engaged in endless journeys in mainland Greece. But whereas some of his previous work suffers from overlong sequences, Landscape in the Mist maintains a balance of time, evoking perfectly the duration of the long but wholly unpredictable journey.

Two kids search for their father whom they've never met. Travelling north in rural Greece, they encounter a plethora of characters and images, allegories on the state of the country. An uncle who's unwilling to take custody of the kids, a truck driver who rapes the little girl, and young Orestes who is working for a group of travelling players and emerges as an oasis in a climate of hostility and exploitation are all presences incapable of filling the traumatized experience of the kids.

The bleak and desolate atmosphere of the film leaves the kids exposed in a landscape of misty images, captured beautifully by Arvanitis' excellent photography. A dying horse on the snow juxtaposed with a marital celebration, a gigantic hand emerging from the sea, and an old man playing sad tunes on his violin construct an impressive but often disturbing imagery. Angelopoulos' treatment of rape, where by seeing nothing you "see" everything, is the most sensitive refrence to the issue I've ever encountered on the screen, rendering a comparison with pathetic films such as The Accused or Cape Fear very interesting.

Landscape in the Mist, overtly influenced by Antonioni's filmaking , may not be a masterpiece but it's a film which works well on all levels, with gleaming performances by the two kids. Having received the Golden Lion Prize at the Venice Film Festival, it's undoubtedly Angelopoulos' best film since The Travelling Players.

Review by Spiros Gangas
Taken from EUFS Programme 1992-93