Eternity and a Day (1999) - Rotten Tomatoes

Eternity and a Day (1999)

Eternity and a Day (1999)

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Movie Info

Theo Angelopoulos (Reconstruction) directed this 1998 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner about a famed author nearing the end of his life. Alexander (Bruno Ganz) lives in his old seaside family home near Thessaloniki, but his daughter and son-in-law plan to sell the house, slightly damaged by an earthquake. Seriously ill, Alexander thinks if he checks himself into the hospital, he'll never check out. Awash in nostalgia, he recalls his late wife, Anna (Isabelle Renauld), seen in flashback, and he lets his daughter read a letter her mother had written to him right after her birth. Alexander's current project involves completing the last unfinished work of a 19th-century poet, but he puts that aside in order to spend time finding a home for his dog. Since his son-in-law won't take the dog, Alexander gives it to his servant. After rescuing an Albanian boy (Achileas Skevis) from a gang that sells children to wealthy Greeks who can't adopt legally, Alexander intends to return the youth to his grandmother in Albania. However, the child lied, and Alexander is unaware the boy has no grandmother. The old man and the boy set forth on a journey, and the other bus passengers include several musicians and the 19th-century poet (Fabrizio Bentivoglio). Bruno Ganz was dubbed into Greek for this Greek-French-Italian co-production.

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Cast

Bruno Ganz
as Alexander
Achileas Skevis
as The Child
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Critic Reviews for Eternity and a Day

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (7)

I was moved and captivated throughout its 132 minutes.

Full Review… | November 15, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Its long, fluid takes escort us through space and time, to universal themes and broader topicalities, effortlessly fending off charges of hermetic aestheticism.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Angelopoulos' meditation on the meaning of one man's life is genuinely hypnotic in its way of transcending ordinary narrative.

October 30, 2001
New York Times
Top Critic

A gorgeous elegy of a film.

Full Review… | October 30, 2001
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

This is not a masterpiece, but it contains moments of rare beauty and its contemplation of life, death, regret, and memory has a subtle power.

Full Review… | October 30, 2001
ReelViews
Top Critic

Angelopoulos has created another masterpiece, one that recalls such classics as Bergman's Wild Strawberries and Kurosawa's Ikiru.

Full Review… | October 30, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Eternity and a Day

Mia Aioniotitia Kai Mia Mera (Eternity and a Day) (Theo Angelopoulos, 1998) Summarizing the main plot of Theo Angelopoulos' Eternity and a Day is quite simple: Alexandre (Der Untergang's Bruno Ganz), a dying author, has decided to take his own life. On the way out of the pharmacy where he has bought the painkillers he plans to do so with, he sees the attempted abduction of a young boy (Achileas Skevis in his only feature appearance; he is now a production assistant in the TV industry), who it turns out is from Albania. Alexandre decides to help the boy, who remains unnamed throughout the film, to get back to his own country, and the two go on an absurd, endlessly-frustrating journey that would not be out of place in a Bunuel film. Along the way, perhaps, Alexandre learns a few things about life, the universe, etc. All well and good. But that doesn't tell you a blessed thing about the movie, really, which is full of flashbacks and diversions, reflections on political relations between Greece, Albania, and Turkey, ridiculously overdone scenes that seem to loom out of the mist, and then recede again (every review I've read of the film-every single one-mentioned the wedding scene, so I'm going to mention it, and then move on), etc. There's a lot of meandering that goes on here, not just on Alexandre's journey, but in the structure of the film itself. This is not a bad thing, though there did seem to be a few times when Angelopoulos was in danger of losing the plot altogether; he wasn't quite as accomplished at the whole endless-diversion thing as is, say, Kiarostami in Certified Copy (the scene towards the end with the debate over the statue would have fit right in here), but he does it well enough that the film never stops being watchable. This shouldn't be a surprise. The movie was co-written by Tonino Guerra, responsible for such plotless, meandering spectacles as L'avvenutra, Amarcord, Nostalghia, and Everybody's Fine (yes, the Robert DeNiro flick, which was actually a remake of a 1990 film by one of the world's best directors, Giuseppe Tornatore). The journey is far more important than the destination where Guerra is concerned, which is not to take anything away from the striking (though ambiguous) destination here-about which I cannot say anything without being spoilerific, obviously, except to say that it is at the same time both vaguely unsatisfying and yet entirely right. It seems to me that such a thing would be incredibly difficult to pull off, if that is the effect one were going for, but it still leaves me, well, vaguely unsatisfied. But there is much to be enjoyed here, and it is often a thing of great beauty and subtle resonance, one which should be seen. It may not be Angelopoulos' best movie-did he ever top The Travelling Players? Magic eight-ball says "probably not"-but it is still well worth checking out. ***

Robert Beveridge
Robert Beveridge
½

Angelopoulos's "Nostalgia." Almost all elements are really my taste, such as the transition to flashbacks. Some parts, like the scene in which the hero and the boy go to the border, are really spectacular and breathtakingly beautiful (also sad, scary and violent) and thus unforgettable - and these parts are what make it worth for you to watch this film.

Naoya Kugimiya
Naoya Kugimiya

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