The six- or seven-year-old boy is a vagrant window washer, of the sort common in large American cities, and, after a trip to the past while visiting his thirtyish daughter (Iris Chatziantoniou), and musing on his likely dead wife, Anna (Isabelle Renauld), who appears as almost the same age as their daughter, Alexander saves him from a band of policemen who are chasing down similar boys. Yet, he cannot escape his own memories.
At his daughter’s apartment, he does not tell her of his diagnosis, instead hands her letters written by his wife, her mother. As she reads them, Alexander walks out into the past — there is no cut, wipe, fade, nor dissolve to memory. All is eternal and all is connected. He simply passes through a door to her balcony, the camera angle changes, and he exits the door to his former seaside home, one which he, after his reverie, learns his daughter and her lover have sold for demolition without telling him. Yet, we never find out why he and his wife split up, although there are hints that the man’s art, and fame as a writer were behind it. We never learn if she is still alive or dead, although dead is likelier.
We also never learn the truth about the little boy he befriends, either. At times the boy seems genuine, and other times he’s a scoundrel straight out of a Dickens novel. As in his earlier film, Landscape In The Mist, Angelopoulos’s child is trying to leave Greece. But, as with the children in that film, the way to Albania is not exactly an easy one, for at the snowy mountain border we see a very eerie scene of a barbed wire fence with what seem to be bodies (live or dead?) stuck to it. As the pair wait for the gate to open, they have a change of mind about crossing, when the boy admits has been lying about his life in Albania. The two of them barely escape a border sentry who chases them and make it back to Alexander’s automobile.
The boy’s perilous existence beings Alexander out of his stupor and self-pity, and seemingly re-energizes him in his love for a dead 19th century Greek poet, Dionysios Solomos (Fabrizio Bentivoglio), whose poem he longs to finish. Yet, Alexander is still wallowing in the memories of his wife, and trying to find a new master for his dog.