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The Owl's Legacy

Chris Marker’s mythical masterpiece released for the first time in 30 years. Thirteen Greek words deciphered by artists and intellectuals from different countries in a film in thirteen episodes, all about the influence of Greek culture in our society.

Chris Marker’s mythical masterpiece released for the first time in 30 years. Thirteen Greek words deciphered by artists and intellectuals from different countries in a film in thirteen episodes, all about the influence of Greek culture in our society. 

On the model of the ancient banquet, men and women drink wine by exchanging ideas, filmed by Marker in four places: Paris, Tbilisi, Athens and Berkeley. The director also filmed a series of individual interviews, and used a variety of materials to illustrate his subject.
 
The episodes are organized by themes.

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.

This version has been restored by The Cinémathèque Française.

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The Owl's Legacy: Symposium, or Accepted IdeasThe Owl's Legacy: Symposium, or Accepted Ideas

The first episode in Chris Marker's remarkable series on the impact of ancient Greek civilization on western life today.

Icarus Films ♦ 1989 ♦ 26 minutes
The Owl's Legacy: Olympics, or Imaginary GreeceThe Owl's Legacy: Olympics, or Imaginary Greece
Icarus Films ♦ 1989 ♦ 26 minutes
The Owl's Legacy: Democracy, or City of DreamsThe Owl's Legacy: Democracy, or City of Dreams
Icarus Films ♦ 1989 ♦ 26 minutes
The Owl's Legacy: Nostalgia, or The Impossible ReturnThe Owl's Legacy: Nostalgia, or The Impossible Return
Icarus Films ♦ 1989 ♦ 26 minutes
The Owl's Legacy: Amnesty, or History on the MarchThe Owl's Legacy: Amnesty, or History on the March
Icarus Films ♦ 1989 ♦ 26 minutes
The Owl's Legacy: Music, or Inner SpaceThe Owl's Legacy: Music, or Inner Space
Icarus Films ♦ 1989 ♦ 26 minutes
The Owl's Legacy: Cosmogony, or the Ways of the WorldThe Owl's Legacy: Cosmogony, or the Ways of the World
Icarus Films ♦ 1989 ♦ 26 minutes
The Owl's Legacy: Mythology, or Lies Like TruthThe Owl's Legacy: Mythology, or Lies Like Truth
Icarus Films ♦ 1989 ♦ 26 minutes

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