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Greek master filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos's latest opus, the first in a planned historical triptych that begins in 1919 Odessa and will end in present-day New York, marches out a stunning succession of set pieces. The camera travels around and through a village that springs full-blown from the interstices of the narrative, catching the activities of people and animals in frescoes of surpassing depth, such as a funeral procession of boats bearing black-clad villagers and black-dyed flags floating in formation down a river. Unfortunately, instead of the usual larger-than-life male figures—Marcello Mastroianni, Harvey Keitel, Bruno Ganz—of Angelopoulos's recent films, we get a distractingly vapid couple who tend to drain the emotional resonance of these extraordinary, ever-shifting tableaux. In Greek with subtitles. 178 min.

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