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The Owl's Legacy

May 31 - June 2, 2019

The Owl's Legacy

(Dir. Chris Marker, 1989)

New restoration! Los Angeles premiere!
Co-presented by Laemmle.


3:30 PM & 7:00 PM


4:00 PM & 7:30PM*


Laemmle Ahrya Fine Arts
8556 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90211

Yanai Initiative logo_edited.jpg
Yanai Initiative logo_edited.jpg

Long unavailable, Chris Marker's 13-part series The Owl Legacy is an intellectually agile, engaging, and sometimes biting look at  ancient Greece, its influences on Western culture—and how many eras have  reinterpreted the Greek legacy to reflect their own needs.

Each  of the 13 episodes is centered on a potent Greek word: from “democracy”  and “philosophy” to “mythology” and “misogyny”.  Marker convenes and  films symposia—meals featuring wine and thoughtful conversation—in  locales including Paris, Tokyo, Tbilisi, Berkeley and an olive grove on  the outskirts of Athens. Footage from these banquets is interspersed  with archival materials and interviews (often featuring a stylized or  distorted owl image looming in the background). Marker’s diverse group  of informants includes composers, politicians, classicists, historians,  scientists, writers, filmmakers, and actors. Together their  contributions form a compelling (and sometimes contradictory) cultural  and historical exploration for each theme.

After screening on European television, The Owl's Legacy was unavailable for decades—the result of objections from funders the  Onassis Foundation, who took offense at comments made in the series  about modern Greece. Now it has been restored and is finally being  released. The Owl's Legacy continues  to serve as a powerful reminder of the ongoing impact of ancient Greek  culture and the ways in which we continually recast it to suit our  beliefs. (Icarus Films)

*Note: The Owl's Legacy will screen in two parts: Episodes 1-7 in Part 1 and Episodes 8-13 in Part 2.

TRT: 340 min.


Friday May 31, 2019
Part 1: 7:30 PM

Saturday June 1, 2019
Part 1: 4:00 PM
Part 2: 7:30 PM

Sunday June 2, 2019
Part 2: 4:00 PM


- Episode 1

'Symposium,'  or the Received Ideas: In Paris, Tbilisi, Athens and Berkeley  historians have played with reconstitutions of the “symposium” – the  Greek banquet – around tables laden with food and wine.

- Episode 2

'Olympics,'  or the Imaginary Greece: Greece's inheritance was recomposed in  contemporary mythology. This sometimes led to terrible misappropriations  for the benefit of totalitarian ideologies – of which Nazism was born.

- Episode 3

'Democracy,'  or the City of Dreams: What does the word “democracy” specifically mean  when it refers to ancient city-states or to our current political  systems?

- Episode 4

'Nostalgia,'  or the Impossible Return: Ithaca is the iconic distant home that no one  should forget: such would be the universal lesson of Homer's Odyssey.

- Episode 5

'Amnesia,'  or the Sense of History: Built on the testimony or “autopsy” – which  literally means “seeing oneself” – our conception of History has deeply  shifted since Herodotus.

- Episode 6

'Mathematics,'  or the Realm of Signs: The geometrical space and the mathematical  language constitute a universal legacy the Greeks have bequeathed us  with. How do we articulate its perfect logic to the complexity of  contemporary sciences?

- Episode 7

'Logomachy,'  or the Root of Words: All the meanings of “logos” originated from a  small territory between Ephesus and Patmos. According to Aristotle the  human animal fights with a specific weapon: speech... Logos’ destiny  would it be the “logomachy”? The fight over words.

- Episode 8

'Music,'  or the Inner Space: A cross between imitation and creation, the search  for the beautiful and harmonious animates the artists’ personal quests –  including with cutting-edge technology – as well as it serves great  collective schemes – religions in particular.

- Episode 9

'Cosmogony,'  or the Use of the World: This reflection over creation – divine  cosmogony and man's creativity – takes us from the Greek statuary art to  the Acropolis’ Korai on show in Tokyo. This takes us on towards the  Gorgon – a mirror of death.

- Episode 10

'Mythology,'  or the Truth of Lies: There are a set of myths to which we constantly  refer ourselves. We will question their genesis, their place in psyche,  their transmission, their nature.

- Episode 11

'Misogyny,'  or Desire's Traps: The Greek conception of sexuality was very different  from ours. What did the Greek think of desire in a world where  heterosexuality and homosexuality – far from being opposites – were  models of existence that were different but compatible?

- Episode 12

'Tragedy,'  or the Illusion of Death: The great figures borne out of Greek  tragedies help us fathom the founding mechanisms of human practices –  all the way to a society like Japan, that is so apparently far from  ours.

- Episode 13

'Philosophy,'  or the Owl’s Triumph: Around the metaphorical – but also very real –  figure of the owl; entwined reflections upon the place of thought in  daily existence and public action – sometimes with and sometimes against  the Greek legacy.

Glorious! Something for the ages; at once illuminating and confounding, heady but playful.

- J. Hoberman, The New York Times

It is talky, pedantic and adorable. I love it.

- Charlie Markbreiter, Artforum

A testament to the extraordinary omnivorous mind of this defining film essayist.

- Nicholas Elliott, Film Comment

The best symposium on ancient Greece you'll ever sit in on.

- Ben Sachs, The Chicago Reader

The  primary pleasure of the series, which is incredibly inspiring, is  linked to this great banquet of participants, the sum of knowledge they  invoke, but above all to the playful flows the editing establishes  between their ideas, constructing a formidable network of meanings,  historical and cultural perspectives––a veritable encyclopedia of  development.

- Mathieu Tuffreau, Le Monde

(Available to download after screening date)

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