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Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos dies in car accident

Athens, Greece: Theo Angelopoulos, an award-winning Greek filmmaker known for his slow and dreamlike style as a director, was killed in a road accident Tuesday while working on his latest movie. He was 76.

Police and hospital officials said Angelopoulos suffered serious head injuries and died at a hospital after being hit by a motorcycle while walking across a road close to a movie set near Athens' main port of Piraeus.

The driver, also injured and hospitalised, was later identified as an off-duty police officer.

The accident occurred while Angelopoulos was working on his upcoming movie The Other Sea. Angelopoulos had won numerous awards for his movies, mostly at European film festivals, during a career that spanned more than 40 years.

In 1995, he won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for Ulysses' Gaze, starring American actor Harvey Keitel.

Greek film director Theo Angelopoulos looks on during a news conference for the movie I Skoni Tou Chronou - The Dust Of Time at the Berlinale film festival in Berlin, Germany in this 2009 file photo.AP

Three years later, he won the main prize at the festival, the Palme d'Or, for Eternity and a Day, starring Swiss actor Bruno Ganz.

Born in Athens in 1935, Angelopoulos lived through the Nazi occupation of Greece during World War II and the ensuing 1946-49 Greek Civil War — recurring themes in his early films.

He studied law at Athens University, but eventually lost interest and moved to France where he studied film at the Institute of Advanced Cinematographic Studies in Paris.

After returning to Greece, he worked as a film critic for a small, left-wing newspaper and started to make films during the 1967-74 dictatorship.

Described as mild-mannered but uncompromising, Angelopoulos' often sad and slow-moving films mostly dealt with issues from Greece's turbulent recent history: war, exile, immigration and political division.

It was not until 1984 with Voyage to Kythera that his scripts were written in collaboration with others.

Angelopoulos mostly attracted art-house audiences, using established actors including Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau in two of his most widely acclaimed films, The Bee Keeper and The Suspended Stride of the Stalk.

Bleak landscapes, the slow editing pace, and the long spells without any dialogue, common in Angelopoulos movies did not always please filmgoers or critics.

The American film critic Roger Ebert wrote of Ulysses' Gaze: "There is a temptation to give 'Ulysses' Gaze the benefit of the doubt: To praise it for its vision, its daring, its courage, its great length. But I would not be able to look you in the eye if you went to see it, because how could I deny that it is a numbing bore?"

In a rare television interview last year, Angelopoulos said his next film was to be about Greece's major financial crisis, and he publicly called on rival political parties to work together to try and ease the hardships facing many Greeks.

"I remain a leftist in total confusion," he told state-run NET television, in the interview given several months before the country's two main rival political parties agreed to form a coalition government.

"This is an emergency situation. We must realise this. So we must all examine what can be done — the left and right. This is my plea," he said.

"I am afraid of what tomorrow will bring."


Published Date: Jan 25, 2012 07:24 AM | Updated Date: Jan 25, 2012 07:33 AM