The Dust of Time

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The Dust of Time
Dust of time.jpg
Greek promotional poster
Directed by Theodoros Angelopoulos
Produced by Phoebe Economopoulous
Written by Theodoros Angelopoulos
Starring Willem Dafoe
Irène Jacob
Bruno Ganz
Michel Piccoli
Christiane Paul
Music by Eleni Karaindrou
Cinematography Andreas Sinanos
Edited by Yannis Tistsopoulos
Giorgos Chelidonides
Release date
  • 22 November 2008 (2008-11-22) (Thessaloniki)
  • 12 February 2009 (2009-02-12) (Greece)
Running time
125 minutes
Country Greece
Language English
Budget $13,000,000[1]

The Dust of Time (Greek: Η Σκόνη του Χρόνου) is a 2008 Greek drama film written and directed by Theodoros Angelopoulos, starring Willem Dafoe, Irène Jacob, Bruno Ganz, Michel Piccoli, and Christiane Paul.

The film is the second of an unfinished trilogy started with Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow in 2004.[2] The last part of the trilogy had the working title The Other Sea.[3] The trilogy was left uncompleted by Angelopoulos' unexpected death in January 2012.[4]


In 1999, an American film director of Greek descent named A (Willem Dafoe) receives a phone call from his melancholic daughter at the Cinecittà studio. He rushes back to his apartment in Rome, where he finds a letter his mother, Eleni (Irène Jacob), wrote to his father, Spyros (Michel Piccoli), in 1956.

In 1953, Eleni and Jacob (Bruno Ganz), a Jew of German descent, watch the newsreel in Temirtau. Spyros gets there. Spyros and Eleni jump onto a tram, leaving Jacob alone. The tram arrives at the public square in front of the government office, where Stalin's death is announced to the people. That night, immediately after Spyros and Eleni make love on the tram, the two are arrested and taken away separately.

In 1956, in Siberia, Eleni puts her three-year-old son on the train bound for Moscow, where Jacob's older sister will take care of him.

On New Year's Eve in 1973, Eleni and Jacob cross the border from Hungary to Austria. After celebrating the New Year together, Eleni ends her relationship with Jacob, encouraging him to go on to Israel.

In summer 1974, Eleni finally finds Spyros in the suburbs of New York. However, she leaves without saying anything to him after she realized that he is already married to another woman.

In winter 1974, Eleni crosses the border from the United States to Canada. There, she and A meet again for the first time in many years. A drives Spyros over to a bar in Ontario, where Eleni works. Spyros enters the bar and makes an offer of marriage to Eleni. The two hug and kiss each other.

In 1999, Eleni and Spyros arrive in Berlin. Jacob visits the hotel they are staying at. The three go out in the rain and dance to the gypsy music at the station. There, Eleni feels dizzy. Spyros makes a phone call to A and is informed that their granddaughter has been found. Eleni and Spyros go to the old building where their granddaughter barricades herself along with drug addicts and vagabonds. Eleni enters the building and rescues her granddaughter. They go back to A's apartment in Berlin, and Eleni lies down on the bed in her granddaughter's room. After visiting Eleni, Jacob commits suicide by drowning himself in the Spree river.

On New Year's Day in 2000, Eleni dies. Spyros and his granddaughter look out of the window. After a while, the two are seen smiling and running hand in hand under the Brandenburg Gate in the snow.



The Dust of Time was shot over a four-month period, starting in 2007.[1] Filming took place in Russia, Kazakhstan, Canada, the United States, Germany, Italy, and Greece.[1]


The Dust of Time premiered at the 2008 Thessaloniki International Film Festival.[5] It was shown at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival.[6]

The score by Eleni Karaindrou was released on the ECM label in 2009.


The Dust of Time received some positive reviews in the Greek press.[7][8] Peter Brunette of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a mixed review, stating that the plot had improbable situations and describing the film as "a curious mixture of the brilliant and the absurd."[9] Dan Fainaru of Screen International felt that it is Theodoros Angelopoulos' most affecting and personal film in years.[10] Derek Elley of Variety criticized the film as "a tired-looking attempt to say something significant by a 73-year-old auteur who has neither anything significant left to say nor the cinematic smarts to say it with."[11] Vrasidas Karalis found the film to suffer from overplotting, and viewed its "depictions of intersecting temporalities" as inventive but confusing.[12] In the book Cinema of Theo Angelopoulos, Angelos Koutsourakis wrote that "the expository dialogue [...] often comes across as wooden" and stated that the film had a "bristling recalcitrance".[13]

Ronald Bergan was more positive, writing in The Guardian that "the film sometimes veers from the profound to the portentous, from the sublimely ridiculous to the ridiculously sublime. However, these weaknesses fade beside the strength of the great set pieces [...] and the passion of the narrative."[14]

In a press conference for the Greek media, the director was asked about the critics for his film and replied that "the directors are not chosen by the critics or by the audience but by the time" and that for him all of his films are chapters of the same films, "Chapters, as he said, of a big book, about human destiny, about the times passed and about the times coming".[15]


  1. ^ a b c Grivas, Alexis (28 July 2008). "Theo Angelopoulos pulls Dust of Time from Venice". Screen International. 
  2. ^ Bergan, Ronald (25 January 2012). "Theo Angelopoulos obituary". The Guardian. 
  3. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (25 January 2012). "Theo Angelopoulos: one last unfinished tale for chronicler of modern Greece". The Guardian. 
  4. ^ Fox, Margalit (25 January 2012). "Theo Angelopoulos, Greek Filmmaker, Dies at 76". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Bergan, Ronald (25 November 2008). "Angelopoulos pulls the punches at Thessaloniki". The Guardian. 
  6. ^ Program of the 59th Berlin International Film Festival
  7. ^ Maria Katsounaki (2009-02-12). Η Σκόνη του Χρόνου (in Greek). Kathimerini. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  8. ^ Μια ιστορία που σκέπασε η "σκόνη του χρόνου" (in Greek). Imerisia. 11 February 2009. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2009. 
  9. ^ Brunette, Peter (12 February 2009). "Film Review: The Dust of Time". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  10. ^ Fainaru, Dan (27 November 2008). "The Dust Of Time". Screen International. 
  11. ^ Elley, Derek (17 February 2009). "Review: 'The Dust of Time'". Variety. 
  12. ^ Vrasidas,, Karalēs,. Realism in Greek cinema : from the post-war period to the present. London. ISBN 1786720779. OCLC 969376158. 
  13. ^ The cinema of Theo Angelopoulos. Koutsourakis, Angelos,, Steven, Mark,. Edinburgh. ISBN 1474409113. OCLC 907178216. 
  14. ^ Bergan, Ronald (2008-11-25). "Angelopoulos pulls the punches at Thessaloniki". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-01-24. 
  15. ^ "The Dust of Time" (in Greek). SKAI. 2009-02-11. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 

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