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Days of ’36 (Meres tou ’36) and Athens, Return to the Acropolis (Athina, epistrofi stin Akropoli)


Dir. Theo Angelopoulos. 1972, 105 mins. 35mm. With Vangelis Kazan, Kostas Pavlou, Petros Zarkadis. Set in 1936 at the end of the Second Hellenic Republic, Days of ’36, the first film in Angelopoulos’s history trilogy, follows a kidnapping and an absurd government crisis to a deadly conclusion. Much of the film was shot in a former Turkish fort in Crete where communist political prisoners and freedom fighters had been tortured and killed in the civil war following the Greek liberation at the end of World War II. As a result, this film of assassinations and executions glints with a harsh Mediterranean light that pins corrupt bureaucrats and ineffectual politicians against a de Chirico backdrop of public squares, trapping them under floodlights in courtyards at night. Preceded by Athens, Return to the Acropolis (1983, 43 mins. DCP) This film was commissioned as part of a TV series about Europe’s major cities. Although much of Angelopoulos’s cinema is set among the villages of the northern countryside, he was born and raised in the city, so this film finds the director musing on an Athenian past that is variously ancient, national, and personal, including clips from The Traveling Players, The Hunters, and Alexander the Great.

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