The Owl's Legacy (Dir. Chris Marker, 1989)
Dates: May 31 - June 2, 2019
Times: 4:00pm & 7:30pm*
Location: Laemmle Ahrya Fine Arts
Address: 8556 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. 90211
New restoration! Los Angeles premiere!
Co-presented by Laemmle.
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
Part 1: 7:30 PM
Saturday, June 1
Part 1: 4:00 PM
Part 2: 7:30 PM
Sunday, June 2
Part 2: 4:00 PM
'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.
'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.
'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?
'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.
'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.
'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?
'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.
'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.
'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.
'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.
'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?
'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.
'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