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The Owl's Legacy: Olympics, or Imaginary Greece

The Owl's Legacy: Olympics, or Imaginary Greece

“Every European era has formed its own image of Greece made up from its own imagination. There is so much self-projection and misinterpretation.” -- Cornelius Castoriades

We begin with the personal. In interviews, classicists Manuela Smith and Oswyn Murray, singer Angélique Ionatos, and filmmaker Theo Angeolopoulos discuss the sometimes unconscious ways ancient Greek thought have permeated their lives and work. (And Ionatos notes that those who fetishize ancient Greece either idealize or ignore contemporary Greeks.)

From there, the episode looks at this phenomenon writ large—exploring the exploitation of ancient Greece to promote current ideology. As early as the 2ndcentury CE, the Church began recasting ancient Greeks as proto-Christians. But it was the German re-imagination that had the deepest—and most destructive—impact. The Nazis saw themselves as heirs to the Greeks. Against the backdrop of chilling footage from Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia, this episode shows how philosophy, neo-Paganism and Greek aesthetic ideals were used to promote Nazi visions of purity, culminating in the displays of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.

“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 4 others]; camerapersons, Andreas Sinanos [and 4 others]; 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; ,doc,art; history; shod

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