Winner of the Cannes Film Festival Grand Prize, Theo Angelopoulos's deeply moving odyssey centers on Alexander (portrayed by Bruno Ganz of WINGS OF DESIRE), a celebrated Greek writer who, while terminally ill, focuses on o... more »ne special last idyllic day. A poetic, haunting, and abundantly beautiful film, ETERNITY AND A DAY weaves an emotionally charged tale of love and life, where the past and the present come together to create a forceful yet eloquent message of hope for the future. Embarking on a dreamy and transcending voyage to relive an idealized time with his long lost wife at their beloved seaside retreat, his day is interrupted as he happens upon a lost and troubled eight year old boy whose future plight brings new meaning to Alexander's own journey into the past. Crossing paths at a special moment in time, the two strangers, man and boy, share a poignant life experience as one journey ends and a new one begins.« less
5 Stars for a beautiful, transcendent film... 1 Star for New
dooby | 09/23/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This film doesn't need me as an advocate. It won the 1998 Palme d'Or and deservedly so. It is a beautiful, meditative, thought-provoking film. Like the Amazon editorial indicated, it is akin to Bergman's "Wild Strawberries," and Kurosawa's "Ikiru." Like them, at its centre is an old man, at the end of his life, looking back, trying to find some meaning to it all. Here is a man, who for all his life has been absorbed by two things, himself and his work. He coasts through life not really relating to those nearest and dearest to him. Now at the end of his life, he opens a letter from his long-dead wife; a letter which speaks of her love for him and recounts what for her was a very special day, but which for him, was just another day which slipped away without much thought. As he reads the letter, he relives that "perfect" day; one that meant so much to his wife but to which he himself was an almost absent participant. He tries to make amends for his life-long distancing and aloofness by trying to help a little Albanian runaway. But in the end, it is too little too late.
In the word-game he plays with the Albanian child, the boy brings him three words which actually make up the central themes of the film. The first word, "Korfulamu," refers to the tender love between mother and child; the second, "Xenitis," refers to being in exile, being a stranger or an outsider; and the third word, "Argathini," means late in the night, or simply too late. He chants these words repeatedly at the end of the film. For these words encapsulate his life. And they encapsulate the themes of this haunting film. But Angelopulos makes clear it is not a pessimistic film. In the final scene before he enters the Hospital to die, he asks the memory of his wife, "How long does Tomorrow last?" and she replies, "An Eternity and a Day." In the end, you have the choice. However short your time, you can make even the slightest act, the most significant; even the briefest moment last forever.
Sadly this film will not appeal to most Americans. Like the previous reviewer has put it so succinctly, most will see it as "excruciatingly slow" and "boring". I also liked the way another reviewer described how its briefest shots are "longer than the longest shots in most Hollywood movies". It is languid. It is not meant to be hurried through. It is an "art-film" and if anything, it is visual poetry. It does require some maturity and will appeal to those who have reached a stage where they can look back and ponder. Give it the chance and you will be rewarded.
Alas, New Yorker Video continues its tradition of shoddy DVD transfers. The print is exceedingly dark. The picture is extremely soft, at points blurry. Nicks, scratches and dirt specks abound. The film is presented in its original 1.66:1 widescreen, letterboxed into a 4:3 frame. It has not been enhanced for widescreen TV. We are given the original Greek 2.0 Dolby Surround track. Sound is serviceable. Optional English subtitles are provided. The Extras are surprisingly very good. The highlight is a 22-minute introduction by Andrew Horton, Professor of Film Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He talks of the film in relation to Homer's Odyssey, Angelopulos' visual style, postmodernism and Angelopulos' standing in the history of Cinema. There is a 10-minute "Analysis of a shot," made for French TV, in which Angelopulos himself talks about his shooting style. This is in French with optional English subtitles. Finally there is a collection of Greek poetry from Solomos, Seferis and Cavafy, all in English translations. Solomos is the poet featured in the fantasy sequences and whose poem, the film's protagonist spent his whole life trying to complete. There is also an 8-page foldout featuring an informative interview with Angelopulos. However, the film itself deserves a much better transfer. Hopefully Criterion can release it someday, suitably restored, so it can stand alongside their lovely restorations of the Bergman and Kurosawa classics to which it has been compared."
Angelopoulos wins the palme
Kristopher Kincaid | Vietnam | 10/20/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A dying author spends his final days reminiscing on what he sees as a failed life. His time spent wandering the gloom of Thessoloniki is interspersed with flashbacks of his wife and their home near the sea. In his wanderings around the city he meets an Albanian refugee child and the two share a few moments of friendship before each goes on to his destiny.
Seen by many as Anglopoulos' reward for the tantrum he threw when "Ulysses Gaze" lost to Kuristica's "Underground" a couple of years before, the Cannes critics finally decided to give the director the Palme d'or for this film. Angelopoulos was right to be upset, his very flawed masterpiece was a much better movie than "Underground," and it is also a better movie than "Eternity and a Day." "Eternity and a Day" is a smaller film where the filmmaker tones down many of his more eccentric quirks; it is easily the most "accessible" film he's yet made. But Angelopoulos is not an "accessible" filmmaker, as anyone who has had the particular and often grueling experience of sitting through "Ulysses" or "The Travelling Players" is well aware. Whether you loved or hated those films it was impossible not to come away from them feeling that they were uncompromised visions but "Eternity" feels, well, like a bit of a compromise. At times it almost leans towards the maudlin or even cutesy (and it's not just because of the kid, compare with "Landscape in the Mist" that had not one but two kids). That being said, the film is still frequently powerful and haunting in the manner of Angelopoulos' best works. It's just that unlike his best works, this one doesn't linger in the mind.
The letterboxed transfer on the VHS tape is quite nice, aptly capturing the director's vision of Thessoloniki as a murky, mist-shrouded, rain-soaked city of despair (it aint really) and the protagonist's dreams of life with his wife among the open sea and sand."
Excellent cinematography, photography and lyrical music...!
A. Siaravas | LONDON, KENSINGTON United Kingdom | 07/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The STORY of an aging writer, his encounter with a young boy, and memories of the past which this encounter evokes, An Eternity And A Day stars Bruno Ganz as the writer, with supporting roles filled by Isabelle Renaud (France), Fabrizio Bentivoglio (Italy), and from Greece Despina Bebedeli, Achileas Skevis, Alexandra Ladikou, Alekos Oudinotis , and Nikos Kouros. Making a special guest appearance in the film is Greek actress Tania Paleologou, who as a young girl played the leading role in Angelopoulos' Landscape In The Mist.Veteran Italian screenwriter Tonino Guerra, together with Greek writer Petros Markaris collaborated with Angelopoulos on the script. The production reunites Angelopoulos' Ulysses' Gaze team -- coproducers are Eric Heumann's Paradis Film (France), Giorgio Silvani's Intermedia Films (France), and Amedeo Pagani's Classic Films (Italy); producer is Phoebe Economopoulos. Theo Angelopoulos creates a stunningly haunting, seamless fusion of reality, nostalgia, and dreams in Eternity and a Day. Using long takes and reverse tracking, Angelopoulos creates a visual metaphor for the isolation of the soul: the hallway shot of Alexandre after Urania's departure; a team of window washers descending on cars at a stop light; the framed shot of Anna by the gate of the summer house. Moreover, recurrent images of abandoned buildings, repeated flights of Albanian refugees across the border, and the unfinished poem, reflect Alexandre's regret over his own unresolved actions. Figuratively, Alexandre, too, is a stranger - longing to recapture an irretrievable past -unable to return home. The unique point of that film is the poetic dialogues, the excellent soundtrack and the photography that really captures another color of Greece and the Greek world. So good, masterpiece...."Alexandre..." After this movie this name with always reminds you poetry... L'éternité et un jour"
A visual poem
Irini | 11/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What is eternity for a life not shared? Is a day enough to capture all that has slipped away? This movie, with magnificent pictures and captivating music, made me rethink my own life and wonder, "what if this was my last day this time?"
To find yourself asking this question at the end of the movie, is proof that Angelopoulos did it again: he told a story in a way that touches somewhere deep in the viewer. Too bad we stopped "buying new words" though. It explains the impoverishment of our vocabulary."
Ed Bacha | Rohnert Park, CA | 03/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this film as part of my new european cinema class at school and I was simply taken away by the images in the film. The other thing that suck with me was the beautiful music in the film, the sound is simple and at the same time adds so much meaning. If you haven't seen Eternity and a Day go see it, and enjoy the music long after the film."