When ‘Eternity and A Day’ Earned a Palme D’Or for Greece



In Eternity and A Day, Bruno Ganz plays Alexandre, a famous Greek writer and poet who is terminally ill.

This day 20 years ago marked one of the greatest triumphs of Greek cinema when acclaimed director Theo Angelopoulos won the coveted Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Eternity and A Day.

The haunting film about a man at the end of his life who tries to recapture the joy of connecting with others while in self-exile for selfish reasons was the masterpiece of a unique director who was loved by critics but who failed to win over the general public.

Alexandre (Bruno Ganz) is a famous Greek writer and poet who is terminally ill. For him, dying is an opportunity to review his life and connect with people he had been too self-absorbed to pay attention to in his younger days.

He has regretted his inability to finish a project about the work of a 19th-century poet and also wonders why he spent so much of his life in exile from those who loved him most.

So, at the end of his life, Alexandre remembers his aloofness when his wife Anna (Isabelle Renauld) threw a party to show off their infant daughter to friends. When he visits his grown daughter (Iris Hatziantoniou) she tells him that she’s sold the family house by the sea. Then he says goodbye to his sick mother (Alexandra Ladikou) and wonders where his life went.

Alexandre’s impending death gives him the gift of understanding life’s sweetness, albeit a little too late. He tries to relive the love for his daughter in her childhood by approaching a little boy (Anchilleas Skevis), an illegal immigrant Albanian who lives on the streets.

The old man rescues the boy from a racket selling children to wealthy Greeks. The boy’s drama softens Alexandre’s heart and the old man becomes alive again, even though his death is cruelly near.

Director Theo Angelopoulos won the Palme D’Or at Cannes for Eternity and A Day.