Though one of the major figures in contemporary world cinema, Greek director Theo Angelopoulos has yet to gain critical favor across the Atlantic, where his latest Cannes triumphs, 1995's Ulysses' Gaze and 1998's Eternity And A Day, have met with a chilly reception. Many complain about his insistently deliberate style: A typical Angelopoulos shot can last for nearly five minutes, as he studies a carefully composed tableau with creeping, glacial camera movements. Adjusting to his somnolent approach rewards the patient, but it's only half the challenge posed by The Travelling Players, a four-hour political epic that's impossible to fully comprehend without being well-versed in both modern Greek history and Aeschylus' Oresteia tragedies. Made in 1975, under the watchful eye of a right-wing military dictatorship, Angelopoulos' defiantly subversive film follows a nomadic acting troupe that bears witness to a country ravaged by civil war. Their failed attempts to stage a harmless folk pastoral lead to sober reflection on their personal histories, each profoundly affected by Greece's numerous conflicts and divisions from 1936 to 1952. For Leftist sympathizer Angelopoulos, the shift from Nazi Occupation to field marshal Marcel Papagos' prevailing dictatorship was virtually indistinguishable, just one oppressive model replacing another. His firm grasp of politics and theater—and how their tragedies are bound throughout history—gives The Travelling Players enormous thematic complexity and relevance, however difficult it is to understand at times. But even the most clueless outsider can still soak in the magisterial beauty of Angelopoulos' images, which mournfully depict corroded buildings and emptied streets while celebrating the country's enduring natural beauty.