Eternity and a Day (1998) dir. Theo Angelopoulos

8/22 @ HFA


The year Eternity and a Day premiered, it won every award for which it was nominated, including the Palme d’Or at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival and Best Film at the 1998 Greek State Film Awards.  Though it wasn’t accorded such prestigious forms of recognition in the US, the Harvard Film Archive’s retrospective of this widely respected filmmaker aims to bring attention to his life’s work.  The series culminates in a screening of Eternity and a Day, a deeply poetic rumination on the beauty and sadness of life, death and the nature of time.

With a distinctive cinematic style described as hypnotic and contemplative by filmmakers and scholars alike, Eternity and a Day moves like a slow waltz, through both space and time, exploring the lost potential of love through the eyes of a man dying from cancer.  Angelopoulos’ films, spanning many decades, generally maintain this rhythm of movement.  Eternity and a Day comes late in his career, which saw the production of films unlike earlier historical works about Greek politics.  Nonetheless, Angelopoulos continued to structure his films in the same way, building stories from trilogies of films in conjunction with one another.


Eternity and a Day is the third and final part of Angelopoulos’ “Trilogy of Borders,” providing a clue as to the film’s central thematic concerns. But those themes, nonetheless, must be searched for and arrived at, through a keen analytical lens, or else one may become lost in the perennial cloudiness of wide landscapes, dusty highways and large, lustrous interiors.  Borders are not wholly absent from Angelopoulos’ other films, but they transform in form and function: at one stage in his career, they represent physical boundaries that separate lands, people, cultures.  Here, they are more of a social construction, the interpersonal reflective spaces of coming and going, arriving and departing, choosing the paths on which one’s metaphysical journey continues.

Here, also, the narrative’s trajectory is decidedly more individualistic, signaling Angelopoulos’ increasing tendency to look inward – common to almost all of us as we age. Tragically killed in an accident while filming The Other Sea in Athens, his powerful legacy continues on the screen and in the poetry of his characters, echoing the sentiment – professed in what became his last feature, The Dust of Time – that “nothing ever ends.”

Eternity and a Day
dir. Theo Angelopoulos
137 min.

Part of the ongoing series: Eternity and History – The Cinema of Theo Angelopoulos

Screens Monday, 8/22 @ Harvard Film Archive, 7:00 PM

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License(unless otherwise indicated) © 2019