Release Date: September 14th, 2005 (NYC-Lincoln Plaza Cinemas) by New Yorker Films.
The Cast: Alexandra Aidini, Nikos Poursadinis, Giorgos Armenis, Vassilis Kolovos.
Directed by Theo Angelopoulos.
In Greek with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: In early 20th Century Greece, after an exodus, Eleni (Aidini), an orphan who is taken in by Spyros (Kolovos), falls in love and starts a family with Spyros' son Alexis (Poursadinis) throughout the years while war and dictatorship brews. This is the first part of a trilogy.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: The reason why this film is often boring is not because its running time is 170 minutes. There are very entertaining films that are over 180 minutes, such as Lord of the Rings where there is not one minute that drags. Although this film is based on Greek history, it is hard to believe because of how lifeless it often seems. Every minute seems like an hour because the pace is so slow and, often, very little takes place onscreen. The cinematography and tone is very similar to that of Andrei Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice. Both films have many long shots that are difficult to endure because of the far distance, literally, from the characters. The Weeping Meadow also suffers from a plot that often seems redundant. Neither Eleni nor Alexis are memorable characters--it would have been nice to get to them better. It would also have been nice to have more dialogue to at least make the characters more lively and rich in personality. It is very difficult to sense the attraction between Eleni and Alexis because they don't have enough chemistry together. The only real pleasures are a few beautiful shots that look like a painting, i.e. many white sheets blowing in the wind. There is a very effective use of stark colors, such a gray, dark green, black and brown--they truly reflect the harsh times of that period in history.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Many scenes are depressing and full of melancholy--even the last scene ends on a very sad note. The attempt to figure out the poetic meaning of the title is the most thought-provoking part of the film, but that poetry is ruined by a very direct explanation about the meaning from one of the characters in the end. It would have been better to leave the explanation to the smart audience members.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: The meaning of the title is explained in detail without leaving much left to think about. Also, there is very little character development and minimal plot.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 8
THE BOTTOM LINE: A slow-paced, often boring film that fails to pack an emotional punch without enough drama or romance. Good cinematography is not enough if the visuals are not rich enough to tell an engaging story: more dialogue would definitely have helped.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: VHS/DVD
The "W" Menu