Eternity and a Day (1998)

Unrated   |    |  Drama

Eternity and a Day (1998) Poster

Famous writer Alexander is very ill and has little time left to live. He meets a little boy on the street, who is an illegal immigrant from Albania, and goes on a journey with him to take the boy home.


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22 August 2001 | pmaniatis
Theo Angelopoulos Philosopher / film-maker
Review of the film eternity and a day – mia aiwnioteta kai mia mera By Peter Maniatis


The issues that this film addresses are "time" and "logos". The question "how long is tomorrow" involves the concept of time.

Since by the expression of "tomorrow" we understand both, the day after today and an eternity, we require the force of "logos" to resolve this chaotic situation. For Alexandros, the use of logos, the accumulation of word-wealth, brings order to his troubled world. It sheds light to his past, present and future.

Defining time as A-series and B-series We can look at the concept of time as Past, Present, and Future. Lets call this an A-series, Past Present Future. Alexandros' past is when he was young, his wife, his friends, his young family, his job, his present is that he is old, and alone, and his future, his tomorrow, is death.

Now let us look at P. P. & F. in relation to each other. The arrival of Captain Cook in Australia is a past event. The destruction of Earth or the Second Coming if you wish, is a Future event. But there was a time that the arrival of Captain Cook was a Future event, and there will be a time that the destruction of the Earth will be a Past event. So we can say that Past Present and Future can be viewed in relative terms, without defined boarders.

In the film, we see Alexandros in his present form, with his rain coat and seemingly old, intermingling with people in spaces of his past, in the form of the time that the events took place at a present time.

With this perspective, we view past, present, and future, relatively to our position in space that we find ourselves at the time (space time). Alexandros does just that.


Dimension of change in the sense of coming to be and passing away.

Alexandros came to be, he was born, he grew old (changed from young to old) and then tomorrow he will pass away. It is the same with everything in nature. The young child is young at the present time, he too will get old and eventually pass away.

Changes in space, variations we experience in space. When we say that the road changes from being narrow to become wide we speak metaphorically. Philosophers connected with the theory of relativity do not see that there is a difference in the change of the road becoming wider and in the changes of the person becoming older. Events deemed past in one frame of reference are deemed future in other frames. The difference is only subjective, experiential, rather than reflecting an ontological fact.

Events of Alexandros past are viewed from a spatial position in the present, and according to Agelopoulos, those past events are at the same time present events. Alexandros wears the same raincoat and is the same age. Past events are present in his mind. One can say that looking at time, from space time perspective, time is static.

Static view of time: According to Parmenides and Zeno, appearance of temporal change is an illusion.

Dynamic view of time: Heracletus and Aristotle, held that future lacks the reality of present and Past. Reality continuously is added to as time passes.

The theory of relativity allows that some events are past or future no matter which frame of reference is selected. The relativity of simultaneity, looking at past present and future at the same time, only requires us to revise our conception of the present.

Alexandros, I think, does just that. He revises is conception of his present situation relatively, from space –time perspective.


The Fates, Klotho, Atropos and Lachesis, the daughters of Necessity, are the three forms of time out of which human life is woven. In the film, the three bike riders we see in the distance and dressed in yellow represent them.

In the ancient Greek myth, there is a cosmic spindle where all strands of human life exist separately. In the film, Alexandros', Ana's, his mother, his daughters', and the child's lives all exist separately.

Klotho spins them together at some present time, the wife with the husband, the father with the children in their young years, the old man and the child refugee.

Atropos, the future, will unravel them as to give the illusion of freedom. The future of the child seems to be free. He does not go back to his grand mother, he goes of to seemingly freedom, but all the time his life is determined by Lachesis the Aloter.

In this chaotic situation, it is only logos that brings order, that gives some sense to seemingly world of fate or chance.


Logos in its multiple meanings, word, speech, dialogue, language, debate, account, etc. makes the above thoughts possible. It is the uniting force. In the chaotic world of change, logos comes to give some comfort by ordering things, by putting events and actions in their right place.

Alexandros, in order to make sense of his life, wants as many words as he can find, to make sense of the time he spend being alive. And in the spirit of Capitalism, he is prepared to buy the words. He is prepared to buy them and gain his freedom, freedom from the tyranny of time, from the tyranny of death. Like his predecessor, Dionysios Solomos who was buying words to write the Ode to Freedom that became the Greek National Anthem.

Alexandros, I think gained his freedom. At the end of the day he was making plans. "Tomorrow" after all, did not seem for Alexandros the end of time. It did not seem the end of his time.

A very good film.

Critic Reviews


Release Date:

28 May 1999


Greek, English, Italian

Country of Origin

France, Italy, Greece, Germany

Filming Locations


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$24,221 31 May 1999

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:


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