Ulysses' Gaze

One could think of this epic odyssey as another self-reflexive Rivertown story: A man known as A (Harvey Keitel) goes against the commercial dictates of his filmmaking career to embark on an obsessive search for the rarest of movies--the Lumière-like footage known to be the first three reels ever shot in the Balkans. Clearly in love with cinema himself, director Theo Angelopoulos designs this autobiographical tale as a near-documentary travelogue of A's "personal journey" to the ends of the earth: that is, to Sarajevo from Greece, through Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Belgrade. Several of the people A meets along the way fondly recall projecting tattered prints on makeshift screens, as Angelopoulos posits film as a gentler timetable of history next to the tumultuous realpolitik of the locations--even though each affects the other. It's a good thing U Film is still reeling, or this beautifully hypnotic, two-year-old Cannes-winner would probably never have made it to town. Bell Auditorium, Monday at 8:20 p.m.

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