O Melissokomos, 1986
Beekeeper opens to a static shot of an extended dinner table
festively covered with a white tablecloth and ornamented with rose
petals that is sitting empty at the center of the courtyard in the
rain, as the sound of Spyros' (Marcello Mastroianni) affectionate
voice is heard recounting to his young daughter the natural selection
process of bees that culminates in the majestic queen's dance. The
guests have retreated indoors for what is revealed to be the wedding
reception of Spyros' daughter - now a grown woman - in the family home.
From the onset, the middle-aged schoolteacher's profound disconnection
is immediately palpable as he shares a prolonged, uncomfortable silence
with his wife (Jenny Roussea) while picking up shards of broken glass
from an overturned tray of wine glasses. Dispirited by his inevitable
separation from his beloved daughter, Spyros separates from his wife
and embarks on his forefathers' traditional vocation of apiculture.
Traveling southward with his bees on an instinctual springtime migration,
Spyros encounters a young hitchhiker (Nadia Mourouzi) who, abandoned on
a rural truck stop, insinuates herself on the resigned and acquiescent
Spyros through intermittent points on his indeterminate journey. Estranged
from an unfamiliar modern world where his generation has become a
historically incidental relic, Spyros attempts to reconnect with
humanity through the promiscuous and rootless young woman and, in
the process, retreats further into the solitude of his dying avocation.
The Beekeeper is a haunting, compassionate, and profoundly
melancholic portrait of isolation, dislocation, estrangement, and obsolescence.
Using episodically contrasting imagery of union and separation, Theo
Angelopoulos provides a sustained visual metaphor for the film's pervasive
themes of fracture and disintegration: the assembly of family members
for a formal wedding photograph that is followed by their individual
departure from the family home, first by the daughter and her new husband,
then the wife and son, and finally, Spyros; the opening sequence of
the extended dinner table that is representationally shown in fragmented
form through repeated shots of empty bistro tables as Spyros re-encounters
the hitchhiker; the image of shattered wine glasses that is repeated
in Spyros' impulsive crashing of his vehicle into a restaurant plate
window in order to reunite with the young woman; the organized matrix
of apiculture boxes during transit that is subsequently shown as individual
containers randomly scattered along a hillside open field (that provides
visual continuity with the overlooking houses of a distant village).
Achieving a visual dichotomy that is both patternistic and deconstructive,
the film serves as an indelible chronicle of the destruction of tradition
and family, the cultural erosion of contemporary Greek society, and
the desolation of the human soul.
2003. All rights reserved.
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