It's a Long Road | Chicago Reader

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Veteran Greek director Pantelis Voulgaris's It's a Long Road (1998) is a profoundly moving trilogy of separately titled films, each tracing a turning point late in a different man's life. In the first tale an archaeologist uncovers an ancient tomb in Macedonia, finding a soldier with a silver coin on his lips as payment for Charon, who ferries the dead. So the archaeologist sets off on his own voyage to the other side, a pilgrimage to the desolate outpost where his 20-year-old son killed himself while doing his mandatory military service. The second story is literally a wild-goose chase through the wetlands of the Evros delta, as a trio of young ornithologists follow the last of a vanishing species from Norway to Thrace with the aid of sophisticated tracking devices and also forge new friendships out of old love affairs. But the chase is more primitive and more lethal for a determined poacher and an old game warden. In the last entry, a factory owner whose wife and kids have left him takes refuge in “Vietnam”—a sleazy, hooker-friendly bar in the middle of nowhere that boasts an impressive roster of singers with seemingly limitless repertoires of songs of rage and despair. What extraordinary is that the three vignettes in Voulgaris's anthology—each very different in tone, landscape, and camera style—all conjure with ghosts from the past, whether the long-gone days of Hellenic hegemony, a mythical lost oneness with nature, or the finger-snapping folklore of Zorba the Greek.

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