aka TRILOGIA I: TO LIVADI POU DAKRYZEI
Movie Review by Alice Castle
Starring: Alexandra Aidini, Nikos Poursadinis, Giorgos Armenis, Vassilis Kolovos
Director: Theo Angelopoulos
Veteran Greek director Theo Angelopoulos’s twelfth feature film is the first of a series of three – an epic trilogy detailing Greece’s history through the twentieth century. The story begins in 1919 where Eleni (Helen – no coincidence a Greek mythological symbol) who will appear in all three films, arrives as a child with her adoptive family. A large group of exiles are escaping from the Red Army who have recently entered Odessa, the Russian Black Sea port which at the turn of the century was once home to a large Greek merchant community. Angelopoulos captures the weary isolation of the refugee with wide, bleak shots – figures in black walking slowly towards the camera in search of a new home with a stark white background. In creating this epic he built an entire village on Lake Kerkini in Thessaloniki which was later flooded for the film.
As the community settles in this flood-prone region somewhere on the steppe – The Weeping Meadow – Eleni grows up and falls in love with her adoptive brother Spyros, a talented musician. The two live in the grandest house in the village and are expected to keep up appearances so they keep their love secret. When it is time for Eleni to marry, she is not permitted to have any choice in the selection of her husband and an elderly widower is selected. As the wedding approaches, Eleni and Spyros are forced to leave their home to seek a life in the city.
Slow paced with subtle acting by the relatively inexperienced Italian actress Alexandra Aidini (Eleni), Nikos Poursanidis (Spyros) and Giorgos Armenis (Nikos) all from the Greek theatre, THE WEEPING MEADOW is a powerful introduction to a modern Greek tragedy.