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Film / Eternity and a Day

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Eternity and a Day is a 1998 film from Greece directed by Theo Angelopoulos.

Alexandros (Bruno Ganz) is a well-known and successful writer, and a widower, his wife Anna having died some years before. Unfortunately, he is also dying of cancer. He has a daughter, but they are distant enough that she won't even take in his dog when Alexandros tells her he's leaving town (it's for more tests, although he doesn't tell her about his illness).

While he's waiting at a traffic light, a street urchin runs up and starts washing his windshield. The urchin is one of a squad of urchins, and when the cops show up to arrest them, Alexandros saves his urchin, ushering the boy into his car and driving away. Alexandros and the boy form a bond. Meanwhile, Alexandros keeps having daydreams where he remembers his late wife Anna.



  • Abandoned Warehouse: The creepy, dilapidated warehouse where the gangsters are selling street urchins in black market adoptions.
  • Due to the Dead: The urchin's little buddy Selim is struck by a bus and killed while doing the windshield wiping routine. The urchin and his fellow urchins have a little impromptu memorial service where they light a flame and wish Selim could tell them where he is.
  • Flashback: There are many flashbacks to a family party by the beach on the day of Anna's baby shower. They're sort of like Pensieve Flashbacks in that Alexandros is fully immersed in them, except that he's actually participating in them, playing the part of his decades-younger self.
  • Historical Domain Character: Alexandros wants to finish a long-unfinished poem by a 19th century Greek poet. That poet is a real guy, Dionysios Solomos. An extended scene has him appear as a character while Alexandros narrates his life story to the boy.
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  • Human Traffickers: Right in front of Alexandros's eyes, the little urchin is kidnapped off the street. Alexandros follows and finds a bunch of street urchins being sold by hoodlums in an abandoned warehouse in black market adoptions. He tries to sneak out with the boy but has to pay after he's caught.
  • Inner Monologue: Occasionally we hear the thoughts inside Alexandros's head, like in an early scene where he's walking his dog and he wonders who the neighbor across the street is.
  • No Name Given: The Albanian street urchin who spends so much time with Alexandros is never named.
  • Romantic Rain: In a flashback, Alexandros and Anna kiss passionately on the beach as rain pours down in sheets.
  • Street Performer: A cut above the average, as a violinist, a cellist, and a clarinetist get on a bus and perform classical music for Alexandros and the urchin.
  • Street Urchin: The homeless Albanian boy, first seen as part of a squad of urchins, cleaning the windshield to Alexandros's car.
  • Thunder Equals Downpour: One rumble of thunder, rain pours on the beach.
  • Title Drop: At the end, in the last flashback, Alexandros makes reference to how he's apparently going to die that very night. He asks his wife how long tomorrow lasts, and she says "eternity and a day."
  • The Un-Reveal: In one of the first scenes Alexandros looks out from his fancy apartment to a fancy apartment across the street. Someone lives there, who responds to Alexandros playing his classical music by playing classical music of their own. The identity of the person across the street is never revealed, and at the end Alexandros is still wondering.
  • Voiceover Letter: Alexandros brings some of his wife's old letters to his daughter. She starts to read one, dated the day of her baby shower. That transitions to Anna's voiceover, which transitions to the first flashback.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Alexandros is acutely aware that his cancer is incurable and he doesn't have much time left.

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