The Owl's Legacy: Tragedy, or the Illusion of Death

The Owl's Legacy: Tragedy, or the Illusion of Death

“The institution of tragedy plays a fundamental role in a democracy.” --Cornelius Castoriadis

Greek tragedies were originally like TV shows before the age of streaming. They were performed once, and only once says scholar Oswyn Murray. But despite their transitory nature, they embraced themes that have spoken to humanity for centuries—and across cultures.

This episode looks at the particular cross-cultural pollination between Greek and Japanese theater. A Japanese woman remembers first engaging with Greece through Theo Angelopoulos’s film The Traveling Players, based on the myth of the House of Atreus. Angelopoulos and writer Vassilis Vassilikos find affinities between the rhythms of Noh, Kabuki, and classical Greek drama. Meanwhile, actor and theater director Alexis Minotis argues that in the modern world, only Greeks can truly understand the Greek tragedies—a position belied by the clips seen throughout the episode from a Japanese production of Medeaperformed in the ancient theater of Epidaurus, and lauded by Greek actor and Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri.

“We should raze the Sorbonne and put Chris Marker in its place.” —Henri Michaux

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." —Le Monde

“Why did we have to wait so long for this electrifyingly intelligent film?” —Le Point

“Thirteen words to uncover an entire civilization and reestablish its considerable influence on our modern societies.” —Les Inrockuptibles

“With erudition, Chris Marker questions in each episode what remains Greek within us.” —Philosophie Magazine


Main credits

Marker, Chris (film director)
Peck, Bob (narrator)

Other credits

Music, Eleni Karaindrou [and 3 others]; camerapersons, Andreas Sinanos, Jimmy Glasberg, Peter Chappell; editing team, Khadicha Bariha, Nedjma Scialom.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Historical Anthropology
Ancient Greece
Chris Marker


"The Owl's Legacy"; Icarus Films; France; Chris Marker; Ancient Greece; culture;

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