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To June 25
Few filmmakers can cover an entire 13-year narrative in a single shot, but for Theo Angelopoulos, a shot is no small thing. A master of time and space, the Greek writer-director favors long takes, stately camera movements, and elegantly choreographed compositions. The Travelling Players (pictured)—the 1975 epic whose opening sequence travels from 1952 to 1939 without an edit—contains a mere 80 shots in 230 minutes (cutting, on average, only every three minutes). A monumental fusion of history and allegory that follows an acting troupe through an era of political turmoil, The Travelling Players opens this seven-film retrospective. It’s arguably the highlight of the series, although 1988’s two-hour Landscape in the Mist is just as good and somewhat more accessible. A road movie about two children in search of a fictional father, it journeys through a land that is, characteristically, wintry and mysterious. The boy is named Alexander, a name that’s among Angelopoulos’ recurring motifs: 1980’s Alexander the Great is about a 19th-century bandit who tries, and fails, to become a political leader; the Alexandre in 1998’s Eternity and a Day is a dying writer who befriends an Albanian orphan. The program concludes with 2004’s disappointing The Weeping Meadow, whose visual sumptuousness is undercut by an unusually artless script. “Theo Angelopoulos: Myth and History” opens Saturday, June 3, and runs through Saturday, June 25, at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th Street & Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 842-6799. (Mark Jenkins)