When film-maker A... (Keitel) returns, after 35 years in the US, to his hometown in Greece for a retrospective of his work, he takes the opportunity to pursue an obsession: to track down the missing three reels of the first film footage ever shot (by the Manakia brothers) in the Balkans. His odyssey, from Ptolemais through Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania, to Belgrade and Sarajevo, allows for a meditation on changing borders, national identity, and the relationship of film to historical and political reality. Angelopoulos' stately epic is hugely ambitious, and despite some art movie clichés - A's encounters with various women, each played by the same actress - and some clumsiness in the English dialogue, by and large it succeeds. Constructed from long elegant takes, and moving fluidly between naturalism and tableaux-like theatricality, it's a mesmerising work of arresting beauty and impressive emotional power.
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