In 2012 the legendary Greek filmmaker Theodoros Angelopoulos was shooting a film called "The Other Sea" which was supposed to complete a trilogy which he started with "The Weeping Meadow" (2004) and "The Dust of Time" (2008). Unfortunately, on 24th January he passed away due to which the film got canceled and the trilogy was never completed. Thus "The Dust of Time" remains as Angelopoulos' final film -- his cinematic legacy to us -- which we can observe as a summary of his style, and a reflection of his oeuvre.
Angelopoulos was one of those few surviving masters who had the ability to form a fruitful synthesis of personal and collective experience. He was a poet of time, in an ontological sense, but also a vital interpreter of our time, giving a unique perception of reality which many of us share, but find hard to express. The milieus of his films always exhale misery, but still include breathtaking, ubiquitous beauty. The images of wind, snowfall and rainy roads do not give form to a mere landscape -- for the landscape has a soul of its own. The viewer looks at the landscape, and it gazes back to him. It is an elegiac moment of cohesion with the universe.
In brief, "The Dust of Time" is a story about a film director and his life. There are two different time levels: the director is making a film, in the present, about his parents' life in Europe after Stalin's death in 1953. Knowing Angelopoulos' style, it is not surprising that these two levels are overlapping. However, understanding the details of the story line isn't important. What is essential, is to see and experience. It is as if each image was a cloth, hiding the absolute image that will never be seen. Each image works as a continuity of its own.
The fact that the protagonist of "The Dust of Time" is a filmmaker associates the film with Angelopoulos' two earlier works "Voyage to Cythera" (1984) and "Ulysses' Gaze" (1995), both of which deal with the possibilities of the cinema to depict reality. However, in "The Dust of Time" Angelopoulos concentrates more on man's loneliness with his memories. Another characteristic theme for Angelopoulos is the relation between past and present. In "The Dust of Time", this theme is treated through dialog between the two time levels. In numerous scenes time and space change abruptly, without a word of explanation, as characters from different periods may come in physical contact with each other. It is never clear whether it's dream or real, but such clarity is unessential and would harm the film to a large extent.
In a word, "The Dust of Time" studies the emotion of existential loss. In his poetics of space, Angelopoulos studies thematic contrasts of appearance and disappearance, absence and presence, distance and intimacy. People are constantly separated by objects that are sometimes concrete, sometimes abstract. This is veritably philosophical, but this film isn't "intellectual" by any means. To my mind, "The Dust of Time" can be easily understood on an emotional level. All it requires is an open mind and a soul capable of receiving beauty. The whole film is more like an on-going poetic impression rather than a strict story. During the film, the spectator goes through emotions of despair, remorse and yearning for touch with the characters.
Although these themes are very universal, some viewers find "The Dust of Time" hard to watch. Arguably it is a film that most likely isn't for everybody, but I would still recommend it for anybody since it asks so little, and gives so much in return. All in all, it's a film, made by an aging man, studying the loneliness of being in the universe as the dust of time sweeps across space -- sometimes so quickly that we hardly pay any attention to it; sometimes so slowly that we seem to wither away with it; and sometimes the dust seems to remain stagnant as though not moving at all.
The Dust of Time
The Dust of Time
A, an American film director of Greek ancestry, is making a film that tells his story and the story of his parents. It is a tale that unfolds in Italy, Germany, Russia, Kazakhstan, Canada and the USA. The main character is Eleni, who is claimed and claims the absoluteness of love. At the same time the film is a long journey into the vast history and the events of the last fifty years that left their mark on the 20th century. The characters in the film move as though in a dream. The dust of time confuses memories. A searches for them and experiences them in the present.
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