Never let it be said that Greek writer-director Theo Angelopoulos isn't ambitious. His latest undertaking - an "elegy on human fate", no less - is the first in a proposed trilogy of films about 20th-century history. His central character is Eleni (Alexandra Aidini), an orphan girl adopted by a Greek family returning to their homeland after the Russian Revolution in 1919. Eleni later elopes with her half-brother Alexis (Nikos Poursanidis) to Thessaloniki, but their passion and the lives of their children are destined to be ripped apart by World War Two and the ensuing Civil War.
Drawing on various Greek myths, Angelopoulos conjures up a succession of arresting visual compositions: white sheets billowing on washing lines, a vast floating funeral procession. Although the storyline occasionally gets muddled, this remains throughout an imposing and cinematically accomplished work.