Theo Angelopoulos Dies Aged 76

Greek director killed in road accident

Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos has died aged 76. The Athens-born director was killed in a road accident in the port city of Pireas.

Angelopoulos was in the middle of shooting his new film, The Other Sea, with Italian actor Toni Servillo (Il Divo) when the accident happened. It was to be his first film since 2008's The Dust of Time.

The director took the path less travelled to the big screen. Initially a law student in Athens, he headed to Paris to study literature at the Sorbonne before making plans to attend Paris's prestigious School of Cinema. Instead, he returned to Greece and worked as a journalist and critic until his paper was banned by the ruling junta. It was then that he turned to filmmaking, making a politically-charged trilogy that spanned Greek history from 1930 to 1970. It included acclaimed drama The Travelling Players (1975), which won him notice overseas and laid the foundations for a well-respected filmography.

Eternity And A Day, in which Bruno Ganz's terminally ill writer looks back forlornly over his life, typified Angelopoulos's keen eye for languid meditiations on the past. It snagged him the Palme d'Or in 1998 and went some way to making up for missing out three years previously with Ulysses' Gaze. On that occasion, bitterly disappointed to be garlanded with the runner's-up Grand Prix, he told the Cannes crowd: "If this is what you have to give me, I have nothing to say."

It was an unusual strident outburst from a man who will be remembered for his dreamlike and poetic films. "For all of the difficulties, frustrations and hardships", Angelopoulos once said, "filmmaking is, finally, a human adventure".