ANGELOPOULOS’ ODYSSEY

Veteran Greek director Theo Angelopoulos wrapped principal photography last week in the former Yugoslavia on “The Glance of Ulysses,” his first feature in almost five years.

The arduous shoot began more than a year ago, on Jan. 30,1994. Location work was undertaken in Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Romania and the Ukraine, encompassing 14 languages and dialects.

The production suffered a major setback Dec. 6 when one of the leads, Gian Maria Volonte, died suddenly on location in Florina in Northern Greece. He was replaced by Swedish thesp Erland Josephson.

Written by Angelopoulos and eminent Italo scripter Tonino Guerra, the film is a modern revisitation of Homer’s “The Odyssey,” and undoubtedly the director’s most ambitious work to date.

Harvey Keitel plays a successful film director who returns to his homeland after 35 years in the U.S. He embarks on an obsessive quest to track down never-developed footage shot in 1905 by Balkan cinema pioneers the Manakias brothers. His search leads him to the Belgrade Cinematheque, run by Josephson’s character.

The cast is completed by Romanian thesp Maia Morgenstern, who appears as four different women inspired by femme figures from “The Odyssey.”

Budgeted at approximately $7 million, the Italo-French-Greek venture is co-produced by Amedeo Pagani for Basic Cinematografica, Eric Heumann for Paradis Films and by Angelopoulos’ own production outfit. Giorgio Silvagni exec produced.

Post-production is being rushed to ready the pic in time for an international bow at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, probably in competition. Italo release is slated for May via Istituto Luce. Despite some consternation from his co-producers, Angelopoulos is pegging the film’s running time at three hours-plus. “Certain films need to breathe, like plants,” he said.

The director has announced plans to hand over the material he shot with Volonte to Venice fest topper Gillo Pontecorvo to be presented as a homage to the late Italian actor at the Lido meet next fall.

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