FROM WIKIPEDIA: A successful Greek filmmaker A (Harvey Keitel) is returning home and sets out on an epic journey across the battered Balkans in search of three lost reels of film by the Manaki brothers, the pioneering photographers who introduced movies into the Balkans at the beginning of the century.
The search for the reels of film works as a metaphor for a search for the common history of the Balkan countries. It is also a reflection on the impossibility of finding new fora of communication.
The magic realist of the Balkans, Theo Angelopoulos ushers in a different Greece through his films, a different humanity: one that suffers from melancholia at the breakdown of democratic state policies; where Odysseus returns in the twentieth century to find a nation that mocks its classical past, thrives on repressive state policies and dictatorship, and corrupt and dynastic measures. Angelopoulos makes nostalgic journeys into the past and weaves – much like the Manaki brothers to whom he paid a tribute in Ulysses’ Gaze – epic cinema out of the fragments of ordinary life. His exiled travelling people never fully make it back to their Ithaca. Through their “gaze” of the embittered landscape, and through the Nietzschian concept of eternal return, the hierophants of Odysseus desperately try to preserve humanity through imagined beauty. Hence it is only in Angelopoulos’ lens that fellow inhabitants of Sarajevo venture out on a foggy evening, when the smog renders it impossible for the snipers to carry out their mission, and remark at the beauty of the world, and be swayed wordlessly by classical music in a bombed-out, open air, makeshift amphitheatre.
The film ends in Sarajevo, where A finds both the lost reels and his true love (Maia Morgensten), who is executed by a death squad. The director laments both the lost love and the impossibility of building a new solidarity in the Balkans.