The Owl’s Legacy is master film essayist Chris Marker’s wildly
digressive, constantly entertaining meditation on Ancient Greece’s
impact on modern thinking and European identity. For two years
in the late 1980s, Marker traveled the world filming conversations
with a variety of scholars, philosophers, and artists (and one cruiseship
operator) and edited them into 13 thematic episodes, each
loosely guided by a word inherited from the Greek, including such
unavoidable terms as “democracy,” “tragedy,” and “philosophy,” as
well as more unexpected entries like “amnesia” and “misogyny.”
The resulting series of films function both as an extraordinary
introduction to the philosophical and political foundations of Ancient
Greece and as a primer in creative, associative thinking, roaming
wide to bring in Simone Weil and Noh theater, the causes of World
War II and—of course—the nature of film-going. In many ways, the
series also presages the age we now inhabit: comparing Athenian
and contemporary democracy, the philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis
concludes that the “representation” most of us settle for is closer to
“electoral oligarchy” than the hard work of participatory democracy in
Athens, while in the last episode George Steiner rages at humankind’s
environmental recklessness.

Chris Marker

Chris Marker

Theo Angelopoulos, Linos
Benakis, Laurence Brauberger,
Cornelius Castoriadis,
Arielle Dombasie, Kostas
Georgousopoulos, Mark
Griffith, Angelique Ionatos,
Michel Jobert, Elia Kazan,
Oswyn Murray, Michel Serres,
Guilia Sissa, George Steiner,
Vassilis Vassilikos, Jean-Pierre
Vernant, John Winkler,
Iannis Xenakis

French, Greek, English; with
English subtitles
340 min. (26 min. per episode)
France, Greece, US release:
2018; copyright: 1989

Icarus Films

$200 for 4 episodes, $450 for
entire series (13 episodes)