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January 26 , 2012

Theo Angelopoulos

“The sources of Angelopoulos’ inspiration are the language and landscape of his homeland, its music and its gestures… It is not language, however, that is predominant in his epic versions of the world, but the camera’s view of persons and landscapes. Sound, unseen and outside of shot, is almost as important as the visual component of his films. Angelopoulos not only revives memories of the silent movie by the beauty of his compositions, his depth of focus, the movement and arrangement of his sequence shots; he has also renewed the sound film in a way matched only by Godard, making full use of its imaginative, meditative, evocative possibilities – like the Russian mystic and romantic Andrei Tarkovsky.”
- Wolfram Schütte in the liner notes for Music for Films (1991)


Film director Theo Angelopoulos (1935-2012) created a universe of his own in films which, as the New York Times noted its obituary, were “the antithesis of Hollywood studio fare.” Much has been written in the last few days about Angelopoulos’ work, as the press takes stock of a long creative life. A highly influential artist, Angelopoulos’ early films and later his “Trilogy of Silence” – “Voyage to Cythera”, “The Beekeeper” and “Landscape in the Mist” – also had an impact on aesthetic ideas at ECM. “Angelopoulos looks at things in silence,” said Manfred Eicher in a 1990 interview. “His sense of time, the long shots and the images of Giorgos Arvanatis had a profound influence on me. I saw his films and wondered if it could be possible to achieve something comparably ‘auratic’ in music production.”

For two decades now, ECM has issued Eleni Karaindrou’s albums of music composed for Angelopoulos’ films. They are more than ‘soundtracks’, as Angelopoulos explained in a note in Horizons Touched in 2007: “There are moments when you hear a piece of music, have a chance conversation with someone or read a text and you get the unexpected feeling of communication at a deeper level, of a common language. In Eleni Karaindrou, I found a musical language which seemed to come into being at the same time as the images in my films. Sounds that were mine before they were born. This is why the way we collaborate has – or at least I think it has – its special characteristics.”

ECM discs with music for Angelopoulos’ movies include Music for Films, The Suspended Step of the Stork, Ulysses’ Gaze, Eternity and a Day, The Weeping Meadow, and Dust of Time . The live Elegy of the Uprooting, with concert recordings of Karaindrou’s film themes, is available in both CD and DVD versions.