Landscape in the Mist

Landscape in the Mist ★★★★½

Ocean blue skies light an infinite terrain before wisps of mist permeate the firmament, obscuring the view of two children lost within an unknown landscape. The camera swoops and seesaws back and forth, occasional intimacy is tempered with great distance, characters emerge seemingly out of nowhere through the haze like ancient apparitions wandering the Earth for eternity, a constant journey without an end point.
In Theo Angelopoulos' poetic road drama, a film that moves with sinuous grace - a young girl named Voula and her younger brother Alexandros are on a mission to find their (possibly nonexistent) father but don't always know if they're going backwards or forwards. A series of train rides take them to deserted towns and windswept beaches where ambivalent strangers offer both hope and violence.
Like Victor Erice's magical ' The Spirit of the Beehive', this is partly a tale of lost innocence. Where Ana's discovery of blood on a stone signifies her awakening to the brutality of the outside world, here Voula is forced to learn about nature's evil in a way that is shockingly invasive.
'Landscape in the Mist' seems predominantly about disorientation - the desire to escape without knowing where to go, the feeling of leaving and never arriving. Cities pass by in a blur, everything is untouchable and fades away as if we are witnessing a series of mirages.
Favouring a less is more approach to narrative, Angelopoulos is also a discerning aesthete with spacious images offering a stunning panorama of the surrounding environment. He's a director that demands patience, sometimes fixating on a moment for a seemingly inordinate time, but when the shot is this gorgeous it almost feels like a waste to move on too quickly. At times opaque and mystifying, but mostly utterly spellbinding.

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