Beekeeper, The (1986)

The second film of Angelopoulos’ ‘Trilogy of Silence’ sees acting icon Marcello Mastroianni deliver a quiet, wrenching performance that is one of his very best. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review #2,397

Dir. Theodoros Angelopoulos
1986 | Greece | Drama | 117 mins | 1.37:1 | Greek & French
Not rated – likely to be R21 for sexual scenes and explicit nudity

Cast: Marcello Mastroianni, Nadia Mourouzi, Jenny Roussea
Plot: Following the wedding of his daughter, stone-faced beekeeper Spyros makes an annual journey from the north of Greece to the south, travelling along with his hives. En route, he meets an erratic, young female drifter, with whom he strikes up an unusual, self-destructive relationship.
Awards: Nom. for Golden Lion (Venice)
Source: Greek Film Centre

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Human Connection; Loneliness; Ageing
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Slow
Audience Type: General Arthouse

Viewed: MUBI
Spoilers: No


I’ve been dying to see the works of Greek master Theodoros Angelopoulos.  After catching Landscape in the Mist (1988) seven years ago in 35mm, a film that stunned me with its nuance and poetry, The Beekeeper is only my second film of his. 

As the middle piece of his ‘Trilogy of Silence’, The Beekeeper stars Italian acting icon, Marcello Mastroianni, in one of his very best performances, delivering a quiet, wrenching display as Spyros, an old beekeeper who must travel with his bees from Northern to Southern Greece to meet the spring. 

It’s an annual ritual and a tradition passed down by his father and grandfather.  However, family is all but an alien concept to him.  His estranged daughter is marrying out and his wife doesn’t seem to love him anymore—both dynamics are captured succinctly in the terrific opening wedding sequence. 

“I was waiting. Through the window, I watched the tree. It was spring.”

As a sort of road movie, Spyros encounters a young female drifter (Nadia Mourouzi in her acting debut) who tags along with him in hopes of being fed and sheltered. 

This surrogate father-and-daughter thread anchors much of The Beekeeper, as they seek connection in a seemingly loneliness existence. 

Shot in a poetic, deliberately-paced style that Angelopoulos would continue to perfect throughout his career, The Beekeeper is ultimately a meditation on the melancholy of ageing, the reminiscing of the past, and a desire for youth—the latter quite literally if contentiously depicted through the two main characters’ sexual urges for each other.

Grade: A-


Trailer:

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