Since I am getting close to the next landmark number in my watching of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and I decided to try and watch a landmark in Greek cinema. At least, I am getting close to 600 as I am writing this in late April. Since the list will likely have been updated by the time this post goes up I can only hope I remain in a similar position.
With a runtime of nearly 4 hours The Travelling Players is one of the longest single films on the 1001 list and is arguably the most acclaimed film to come out of Greece. And yet the entire film left me fairly cold.
Looking at the synopsis of the film it would appear that The Travelling Players should have really appealed to me. A combination of The Band’s Visit and a film depicting the history of Greece between 1939 and 1952. However, as an outsider who knows little to nothing about mid-20th century Greek history it was not entirely accessible.
For the first part who are these travelling players? Sure, they are a performing troupe who tour Greece and we see a lot of these events happening around them and sometimes it effects them personally. The problem is that it took a very long time for there to be any way to try and discern between the members. By the time that happened I was bored with this film and it just lost me.
What also didn’t help, and I know this is a me thing, was the incredible amount of long shots (with the average shot in this film being 2-3 minutes) and a very small amount of closer shots – it just felt (at least to me) that a substantial part of the human equation in a story like this was missing. Considering part of The Travelling Players is during Nazi occupation that surely is a negative.
Then again, critics loved this. I have obviously missed something here. You can’t like everything that critics like, otherwise there would be no difference in film taste.