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Past and present intertwine as A., a film director in his fifties finds himself becoming a part of the film he is making, a chronicle of the tumultuous life and enduring love of his parents Spyros and Eleni. The historical events that marked their lives have their present day parallels. For Spyros and Eleni it was the Second World War which separated them after he immigrated to America in search of a better life as a musician and the Greek civil war that kept them apart when she ended up in the Soviet Union along with other political exiles. For A. it is the Vietnam War, which forces him to flee to Canada and the fall of the Berlin Wall, which signals the birth of a new era.
A. himself was conceived on the day of Stalin’s death in the brief moment his parents had together when Spyros went to Tashkent – illegally with another man’s name – in the hope of smuggling his beloved out of the Soviet Union. Caught by the police Spyros is arrested and Eleni sent to Siberia where she is reunited with Jacob, the German Jew she first met in Tashkent and a pivotal figure in both her life and Spyros. Throughout her ordeal in Siberia he never leaves her side even when it comes to choosing between joining the other Russian Jews heading for Israel in 1974 or following Eleni to New York where she goes in search of Spyros. For Jacob the choice was a bitter one since Spyros and Eleni are ultimately reunited. The new life that Spyros has made for himself and which Eleni discovers, cannot keep him apart from her and he follows her to Toronto where she has gone to be with her son. A. was only a little boy when his mother had managed to get him out of Siberia and sent him with Jacob’s sister to his father in the United States.
Years later, in Berlin where he now lives A. greets his parents who arrive from the States. It is their first stop on their way to Greece after deciding to return home. There is an emotional reunion with Jacob, who had since returned to Germany and comes to greet them. The three of them wonder in the streets of Berlin caught up in the New Year’s Eve festivities, and dance to the music. But their joy is marred by the news that A.’s troubled young daughter Eleni has disappeared. A. had been desperately and unsuccessfully searching for her. When the police finally locate her she is perched on the railing of a bridge at the intersection of two highways. It is the first time we see young Eleni and it is her grandmother, the other Eleni, who finally talks her into coming down off the railing as A., his estranged wife and the police stand helplessly by. But the toll on the old woman, who has already shown signs she is unwell, has been too great and she collapses. In A.’s apartment where they have taken her, Jacob comes to see her but finds her asleep. The final scene between the three is played out. With Eleni asleep in the next room Jacob and Spyros share one last drink like in the old days in New York. It is the final parting. An emotional embrace and Jacob leaves.
On the riverboat carrying him away in the rain Jacob goes up to the deck. Tormented by the memories of his recent voyage of memory to Poland to the camp where his parents died and letting go of the only woman he has ever loved. Slowly he lets his body slip into the empty space and disappear in the swirling waters of the river. Back in the apartment Eleni has risen and is setting the table, a place for each of her loved ones. She calls out to Jacob but he is not there. Finally she collapses with a look of peace on her face. By the time A. comes with a doctor it is too late. Spyros approaches his dead wife calling out her name and saying he has come to take her but it is with young Eleni that he walks hand in hand through the open balcony door, and out onto the avenue that stretches out before them, airy and fluid as a watercolor…
Source: Cinema Soleil
The first public performance
of the Dance Theme for Angelopoulos’ new film
“I skoni tou hronou” (The dust of time)