Eternity and a Day ★★★★★

Ahem... Pardon me a moment, there's just... there's something in my eye. Only a handful of times in my journey as a cinephile has a film taken me in so wholly and produced in me emotions so consuming, thoughts so abundant, reactions so charged. What an extraordinary work of cinematic art Theo Angelopoulos has here created, its bold mastery of visual and aural aspects as flooring as its profound ability to address the most difficult human themes with a deceptively simple story. Speaking on technical terms alone, Eternity and a Day could be the best film I've ever seen, its procession of long take after long take so assured that it boggles the mind. Protracted takes are, to my mind, the sign of a real directorial genius: they're so damn hard to get right, so reliant on perfection in every quarter, that it must surely not be worth the effort of striving to achieve them. If I were to make a list of my favourite shots in cinema, I would have within this film at least five immediate candidates. Angelopoulos' camera swoops, soars, and swims through the air, moving from extreme close-up to long shot and back again, often with dozens of extras in the midst. Each and every scene functions not just as a wowing spectacle, though, but as a visual metaphor too. Traditionally the long take has been the bastion of the realist; what's particularly remarkable here is the fusion of reality and fantasy within single shots, the camera moving to discover a figure clearly not part of the tangible world. This brilliant blend gives us entirely to the mind of our protagonist, played with such fragile tragedy by the magnificent Bruno Ganz. As he wanders through his life looking for the meaning that will allow him to accept his imminent death, so too do we consider our mortality and the things that matter the most to us. Eternity and a Day is a film of striking complexity, its exhaustive summation of existential strife tied up in some of the most immaculate cinematic constructions you're ever likely to see. Scarcely have I been so bowled over by a film—it is, after all, only the 26th ever to which I have given a full 5 stars—rarely has a fiction drawn me so wholly into the mysteries of life and their potential answers. It's extraordinary to think a film of such meticulous visual construction could be more beautiful in the things it has to say than the images it has to show, yet that is indeed the case here. I'll stop writing now. I lack the words to describe what this really meant to me.

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