Greek director Theodoros Angelopoulos, winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes and the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, died suddenly late on Tuesday evening after suffering a severe head injury as a result of a motorbike accident which occured in Piraeus (near Athens). Highway officials said that Angelopoulos, aged 76, was crossing an intersection in the area of Keratsini (a western suburb of Piraeus) when he clashed with the motorbike. An ambulance was quickly called to scene and he was immediately transferred to the Faliro hospital of Piraeus where he left his last breath.
Angelopoulos studied law at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, but after his military service went to Paris to attend the Sorbonne. He soon dropped out to study film at the IDHEC (Institute of Advanced Cinematographic Studies) before returning to Greece. There, he worked as a journalist and film critic. In 1978, he was a member of the jury at the 28th Berlin International Film Festival.
He began making films after the 1967 coup that began the Greek military dictatorship known as the Regime of the Colonels. He made his first short film in 1968 and in the 1970s he began making a series of political feature films about modern Greece: Days of ’36 (Meres Tou 36, 1972), The Travelling Players (O Thiassos, 1975) and The Hunters (I Kynighoi, 1977). He quickly established a characteristic style, marked by slow, episodic and ambiguous narrative structures as well as long takes (The Travelling Players, for example, consists of only 80 shots in about four hours of film). These takes often include meticulously choreographed and complicated scenes involving many actors. His regular collaborators include the cinematographer Giorgos Arvanitis, the screenwriter Tonino Guerra and the composer Eleni Karaindrou. Angelopoulos is considered by British film critics Derek Malcolm and David Thomson as one of the world’s greatest living directors. Roger Ebert has stated that Angelopoulos must care very little for his audience.