Review: Eternity (aka Tee rak)


Feel the stillness as you gaze at the rich dirt after harvest and the faint mountains in a haze. There is no movement, no sound or whisper even from nature. Then, from a distance, comes the crackle of a motorcycle. It comes into the silent scene and departs, leaving you to view the same brown tilled soil and jutting gray peaks. Stillness. No music. From a distance the sound of the bike motor returns with its lone rider.

“Eternity” creates a mood, a pace and a peaceful reflection of time in another dimension. It is an attempt to capture the Thai sense of death as Wit, the man on the motorcycle, returns as a ghost to a tender time in his life when he wooed his wife, Koi, swam in the river, paddled a canoe and drove his motorcycle through back roads lined with shade trees.

Sivaroj Kongsakul, the writer and director, has remarked that this film was created as a tribute to his father, who died when he was young. His mother, a schoolteacher like Koi, raised him with stories of his father so that he would know him better and never forget his memory.

In Thai culture there is a belief that the souls of the dead can return to revisit the land and family they left, particularly times and places they cherished in life. It is this comforting and dreamlike aspect that Kongsakul brings to this film.

Come to “Eternity” prepared for that kind of experience – an experience of the holy, the wistful, and the idea that the dead can rejoin us. While this film is also the story of love and the unbreakable, immutable union of souls who grieve when separated, it is also a recreation of another spiritual dimension.

In honoring this memory of love, life, and death, the audience needs to come prepared for a meditation, not a story. Some viewers will leave in impatience because of the slow moving stationary scenes illuminating no particular outstanding beauty. Instead each cut captures the ordinary and the typical – the scraggly tree with uneven leafage, the dark river with distant dark shoreline, the hazy sky in mid-afternoon and the hand reaching out of a mosquito net that is grasped by another.

“Eternity” won a Tiger Award at the 40th Rotterdam International Film Festival. Though it is slow and made with very little money, it reveals a precious slice of Thai culture.

“Eternity” will show at the 35th Annual Portland International Film Festival

on Feb. 22 and 25, 2012.

Film Credits

Director: Sivaroj Kongsakul
Writer: Sivaroj Kongsakul
Producer: Aditaya Assarat, Soros Sukhum, Umpornpol Yugala
Cinematographer: Umpornpol Yugala
World Premiere: October 2010 (Pusan International Film Festival)
Runtime: 105 min.
Language: Thai
Country: Thailand
Cast: Pattraporn Jaturanrassmee, Wanlop Rungkamjad and Namfon Udomlertlak

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