And, finally, in 2001 it was time for another big surprise. Back in his hometown, Athens, Vangelis gave a huge concert called Mythodea, staged at the temple of Zeus. It was dedicated to the NASA missions to Mars in search for water and proofs for ancient life on the Red Planet.The music itself was not new, but recorded back in 1993. In Athens, while Vangelis played the music live, the stage was built impressively with huge images of Hellenic helmets, the planet Mars named after the Greek god of war from ancient times and the choir was dressed as ancient Greeks. The concert was recorded for televisionbroadcast and is widely released on DVD, CD and VHS. Mythodea was performed by opera divas Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle, the London Metropolitan Orchestra and the 120-member chorus from Greece's National Opera. The concert was criticised for risking the safety of the ancient ruins at the temple. The project had been heavily criticised for its $2.8m (£1.9m) budget, funded by the company behind the 2004 Olympics, as well as being accused of being inappropriate. Panaghiotis Marinis, head of the Greek Society of the Friends of the Ancients:
"It is an improper use of these places (...) they may be archaeological sites but they are also holy places for our religion."
At the pressconference, held just before the concert, Vangelis said:
"Science and mythology were the topics which fascinated me since my early childhood."
Jim Garvin, NASA's chief scientist, said:
"The saga of Martian exploration continues, now enhanced vividly by the music of Vangelis, which captures part of the spirit."
Scaffolding, seating and a giant screen were erected in the ancient grounds to accommodate the performers and the 2,000 spectators. Others were able to watch on a big screen at the nearby Panathenian Stadium - the home of the first modern Olympic games. After the performance, French Education Minister Jack Lang was present due to award Vangelis the French Academy's medal of the Legion of Honour.
In 2002, a year after the concert, Vangelis said about the connection between his music and the space theme:
"I do not try to discribe space, I'm functional working with space. Trying to discribe is a different thing, like science fiction is trying to discribe... you know... space impresses."
2002 Vangelis wrote music exclusively for a play in Hungary, the Shakespeare play The Tempest, in Hungarian called "A Vihar". The National Theater in Budapest, Hungarys capital, was opened with this play. The music was heard by the spectators only and is never released. Listen to a short clip of the performance.
Throughout the world, Vangelis showed an aspect of of life which was never seen before in public. It was known he paints as a hobby, but now his painted art was showed for the first time, he had seen the paining as a private matter. June 5th of 2003 the first exhibition opened at El Almudin in the city of Valencia in Spain. After Spain, the collection travelled to South America.
Some examples of Vangelis' paintings
In 2004, Oliver Stone's movie "Alexander", about Alexander the Great (356 b.C. - 323 b.C.) was released. The film saw a worldwide release in cinemas. An album was to be released in shops everywere in the world, a version with two non-album tracks on it was sent to the Oscar jury to help Alexander's music to become Vangelis' second Oscar success, but it never came that far. In an interview Oliver Stone said about the film:
"I always liked the Greek outfits. They were sexier than the Romans', you've got to admit. And they didn't wear sandals. They wore boots. So don't call it a sword-and-sandal movie, for Christ's sake! It's sword-and-boot, OK?"
Making the film was a hard job. The title role was given to actor Colin Farrell. November 2004, mister Farrell told BBC reporters:
"It was tough. It was a hard shoot physically and emotionally. All the boys involved put themselves on the line, and it was a blast."
During the filming, Oliver Stone used a technique familiar to him throughout his career: the playing of appropriate music between scenes on the set as an aural backdrop, setting tone and mood for the actors and crew. Although on previous films Stone would often utilize "temp music," for Alexander, he played music that was being composed simultaneously, a thousand miles away in Athens, by Vangelis. Inspired by the story of Alexander, one of his personal heroes, Vangelis dug deep into the roots of Greek and Macedonian musical heritage. The composer scored not only with his electronic devices, but also for such ancient instruments as bagpipes, drums, lutes and lyres. Bagpipes, although associated with Celtic music, probably originated north of Macedonia in what is today Bulgaria.
Budd Carr, music supervisor and producer for Alexander, said in an interview:
"There’s a whole mixture of musical influences in the melodies and rhythms, blending the cultures that Alexander encountered: Persia, Afghanistan, Egypt, India. Since we’re depicting 320 B.C., you can’t go to your CD collection and pull out material. Oliver has always written music into his scripts, so we had several scenes with groups of musicians playing in Macedonia, Persia, Balkh (Afghanistan) and India. In order to provide the authentic feel Oliver wanted for these scenes, composer Vangelis, who has a deep knowledge of the musical history of these areas, composed, recorded and produced original music for the musicians to play. His powerful score for the film evokes the past and includes diverse ethnic influences and instrumentation."
Vangelis's opinion about making music for films is made clear by himself in 2004:
"Writing for a movie is not more than to try to help the movie and to bring the movie to the best possible result. Alexander is a special case. I'm trying to remember how it is to be there and to live at the time. At the same time I must speak through a language, a musical language, which is understandable today".
Just before Alexander hit the cinemas in Europe, the film caused trouble between believers and disbelievers of Alexander the Great's homosexuality. The movie itself emphasizes the major battles of the leader and sheds some light on his sexuality. A group of Greek lawyers said to sue the filmmakers saying that the film shows Alexander as bisexual in stead of him being gay. The group demanded a credit that the film is purely fiction and is not based on facts. Oliver Stone defended the film saying there was a historian to ensure accuracy. Colin Farrell, the actor in the title role said about the accusations:
"Ambivalent sexuality was something of the times and part of the character".
The Greek lawyers have put the idea to sue the filmmakers on ice. In the maintime, the Alexander theme was voted as best flmscore by the public of WSA.
Click here to go to the Alexander Gallery of movie posters
Some photos of the making of Alexander with director Oliver Stone
A big surprise it was. After the rumours started in 2003, Vangelis and his friend the well-known actor Sean Connery put their talents together. In 2005 a big blue box came out with a book with drawings of Connery's wife, Jacqueline Roquebrune-Connery and a one track CD called Ithaca. Sean recites this poem written by C.P. Kavafis with music by Vangelis. This poem is about life, a very intense poem.
Throughout the years many of Vangelis' music was used for all kinds of puposes. Sometimes the music was made exclusively for these puposes, but sometimes exsisting music was used for new material. Like in 2005, Danny Boyle's filmhit "Millions" used a piece of Apocalypse des Animaux. Other famous movies by Boyle are "Trainspotting" and "Slumdog Millionaire"
Iannis Smaragdis, a Greek filmdirector, has been inspired by influential Greeks throughout the decades. When he directed the film Kavafis about Constantinos Kavafis, an inmense popular Greek poet, he asked Vangelis to make the music. In 2007 the famous Greek Domenicos Theotokopoulos known as El Greco, was the subject of a new Iannis Smaragdis film. The movie welcomed more than one million spectators. The movie, set in the 16th century, tells the story of the painter's search for freedom and love. Living in Crete, Venice and Toledo, his search got difficult at the time of the Spanish Inquisition. Iannis Smaragdis won numerous prices again with this film. Vangelis won an award for his music again, at the Greece film festival. Dispite all this success, the movie recieved less attention in the rest of the world.
Shooting took place in Heraklion, on the Greek island of Crete, Toledo (Spain) and Athens (Greece). According to Smaragdis it was Vangelis' idea, as well as some Cretan businessmen who provided the initial funding to begin production of El Greco.
Yannis Smaragidistold the Greek press:
“It is the epic story of a Greek artist who refused to compromise, a fighter for freedom. It is a journey of light which tries to transcend the darkness of its times and reach the realm of the divine. I was born in Heraklion in Crete, 300 meters away from the house of El Greco. I lived under the sky that gave birth to him, I was baptized in the sea in which he swam, I loved the same Cretans that brought him to the world and I yearned for the same journey beyond the sea that entraps our island, Crete.This strange and creative individual, El Greco, in whom lives the great soul of his land, has won international recognition by preserving the characteristics of his clan during the hardships, and did not yield even before his greatest adversary, the Holy Inquisition. He is a hero that draws the juices of life, strange and fascinating, who fought against the darkness and ignorance of his time and won. A positive figure who can become a role model for the people of today and tomorrow, and give faith and hope to each of us to find our own way to freedom."
Late 2008, Vangelis was invited to yet another filmproject. The Polish filmdirector Pawel Pitera and producer Przemyslaw Hauser put their efforts together to realise a film about pope John Paul II, based upon a book that was published 2007. Swiadectwo, or Testimony, will hit the cinema's 17 October 2008. The scores used in the movie will be made by Robert Janson, a well-known Polish compser. The begin- and endtitles will be by Vangelis. The book where the film is based upon was written by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who will be the narrative. He was the Pope's long-live secrectary and friend. They have been through many ups and downs during Karol Woytila's (Pope John Paul II's name before he became Pope) Pontificate. The film uses documentry footage as well as dramatized material. The first scenes of the film were shot autumn 2007. It took almost a year to produce the whole film. The film was shot in the Vatican, Cracow and Wadowice, as well as several locations throughout Europe. The running time is 90 minutes. Dramatised documentary is quite new in the world of filmmaking. Although some examples exist already, not many films are made in this genre. The filmmakers had to film dramatised footage because many of the most exiting themes of the Pope's life were never been photographed or filmed. The Cardinal revealed many of these themes, used in the movie.
On the question why the filmmakers choose Vangelis as the score composer, mr. Hauser answered:
"The idea to ask Vangelis to compose the film score came from Marek Szpendowski, a legendary figure, the organizer of the biggest concerts in Poland. He suggested two composers: Vangelis and Ennio Morricone. Morricone composed the score for the movie "Karol: A Man Who Became The Pope", so I didn't want to go down a trodden path and from the very beginning, opted for Vangelis. There are two composers in Testimony, apart fron Vangelis, we also have Robert Janson, whose contribusion to the score will be quite considerable. Janson is best known for Varius Manx (the Polish popgroup he is founder of) but he also composes symphonic music".
Polish Poster for Swiadectwo
It was a great event, in Doha, Qatar. December 2011 Vangelis gave a massive concert in front of 500 spectators. This concert, which was hosted by actor Jeremy Irons, was a private concert, only VIPs were invited. It was initiated not only to celebrate the opening of the Aphitheatre, also to coinside with the 4th UN Forum on the Alliance of Civilisations that was being held in Doha.
Vangelis played on his synth-setup that can be seen on the pictures below. On the screen behind the stage, some images were projected
Listen to an excerpt of this concert (soundquality is poor)
In 2014 a new movie project was announced: Crépuscule des Ombres. The film, directed by Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina, is to be seen in movietheaters in 2014 and 2015 in North Africa and Europe..
The title could be translated as "Twilight Shadows". The movie tells the story of three men with totally opposite characters, who struggle to survive in their journey to reach the Maroccan border in the Algerian desert, during the Algerian Liberation War between 1954 and 1962. De Saintenac (a role by Laurent Hannequin) defends the French civilizing mission, while Khaled (played by Samir Boitard) opposes him the countless massacres of the French army.
The film was shot between Batna, Biskra, El Oued El Tarf and Tipaza in Algeria, with a small budget, 600 million Dinar (5,5 million euro). According to Lakhdar-Hamina, the shooting took not as long as intented. Mister Lakhdar-Hamina said:
"Initially it would take 18 weeks to shoot. But I cut it back to 12 weeks. At the end it was only 10 weeks and one day to shoot the film. But it took twenty years to realize the project."
Mister Lakhdar-Hamina is 80 years of age, (born 26 february 1934) and he still makes movies. His last film "La Derniere Image" was made thirty years ago. He won an Palme d'Or for his movie "Chronique des années de braise" in 1975. Crepuscule des Ombres premiered 16 November 2014 in Algiers.
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