If Theo Angelopoulos had not fostered such a fertile and creative obsession for Greece?s history and its ghosts, he could have made a film about Franz Schubert?s grand Eighth Symphony, which was never completed. Even incomplete, the Eighth Symphony remains a true masterpiece — a cry of tragic existential angst.
The element of tragedy is yet another thing that allows us to compare the 19th-century Austrian composer to the filmmaker who captured the image of Greece and of the Balkans in the 20th and 21st centuries, not just in terms of the themes he explored, but also in the way that he died, leaving his final work incomplete.
In contrast to Schubert, Angelopoulos intended to finish his film. Yet, on a more profound level, this unfinished element is significant in itself, and it was the focus of a lengthy piece by Peter Bradshaw dedicated to the Greek filmmaker in the Guardian?s film blog, following his death on Tuesday after crossing a road while filming and being hit by a motorcycle: ?This very fact has an enormous irony and poignancy: So much of his work is about the unfinished story, the unfinished journey, the unfinished life, and the realization that to be unfinished is itself part of the human mystery and an essential human birthright and burden,? writes Bradshaw.
Media around the world reported on Angelopoulos?s death, describing him as an auteur of the highest caliber.
In The New York Times, Margalit Fox writes: ?Possessed of a singular style that has long divided critics, Mr Angelopoulos was considered one of the most eminent directors of the second half of the 20th century; reviewers have likened his films to those of Michelangelo Antonioni and Akira Kurosawa.?
Germany?s Der Spiegel describes his works as ?the great melancholy epics of European cinema,? noting that in his films ?it is always winter… and that winter is a mirror of social and political realities.?
France?s Le Monde says: ?Angelopoulos made us travel as people, through time and through the landscape, through matter and spirit. He excels, often in one single camera movement, in conveying different realities and eras, in joining myth and reality, theater and history, the imaginary and the political.?
The UK?s leading Sight