Greek Tragedy

Eternity and a Day

From here to Thessaloniki: Bruno Ganz and Isabelle Renauld wait for eternity
From here to Thessaloniki: Bruno Ganz and Isabelle Renauld wait for eternity

A somber, meditative film from the Greek master Theo Angelopoulos, Eternity and a Day tells the story of a terminally ill writer Alexandre (played with creaky eloquence by German star Bruno Ganz) as he moves out of his seaside home and begins to look back over his life on the day before embarking on "a long trip." Instead of a magical journey of poetic remembrance, the film becomes a rather tedious guilt trip with the protagonist lamenting a life spent "chasing after words." Along the way the writer rescues a young Albanian refugee (Achilleas Skevis) from a gang of child-smugglers and struggles to find the right way to help him. The film shows Angelopoulos at his most Felliniesque, moving effortlessly between present and past, from the personal to the political, but while treating us to a wealth of lyrical images (a prisoner-of-war camp in the mist, for example) and some genuinely powerful dramatic moments (an encounter with his dying mother, for one), the film's various elements never quite gel.

 
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