Eternity (Tee Rak)

de Sivaroj Kongsakul


Told in three time periods, Eternity is a story of love and ghosts. On the one hand we see Wit, a man who has just passed away, retrace the steps of his youth: he’s trying to find Koi again, a young schoolteacher he fell in love with. Later we travel to the time when love grew between the two of them. Finally, we see Koi, older now. A disciple of Apichatpong Weerasethakul –who delighted us last year with that exquisite story of specters called Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives– Thai director Sivaroj Kongsakul picked up an award in Rotterdam for this poetic film.Uncle Wit recalls past happinessThe opening images of Tee Rak, Thai director Sivaroj Kongsakul’s debut film, an award winner at the Rotterdam festival, invite you to think, in an impossible mixture, of William A. Wellman’s and Albert Serra’s cinema. A desert is a space, and a space is crossed, said the leading character in one of Wellman’s best westerns, Yellow Sky (48), and that’s what Wit does with his motorcycle in those first shots of Tee Rak where we still don’t know exactly how to position ourselves before what these shots are offering us: vertically and horizontally, boring through or travelling down the road, coming from out of the distance or later headed towards it until becoming confused with the edges of the frame or swinging from left to right of the static plane. It’s not a desert but it is a space that’s crossed. Like in that shot from Birdsongs (08), by Serra, where the Three Kings walk towards the horizon line (this time they do cross a desert), turn and walk back to where the camera is located, with no other narrative support than the simple idea of displacement with no set destination, Wit comes and goes on his motorcycle; he doesn’t appear to be sure about what direction to take or where to stay either.But he does it, he stays, looks forward and cries. Wit disappears from the frame at the lake so time, the story, can freely look back: In the same frame, the present and the past merge, the moment that is being lived and the one that starts to be remembered. Do you remember ghosts? Wit does: he’s a dead man who evokes the life that was, the existence he had, the construction of happiness. In the same sequence shot, without interruptions, the ghost dissolves and the young, live body appears, the hoped-for past. Wit’s crying has been the despair of one who returns to the place of happy events knowing he can remember them, maybe retain them, but never again repeat them beyond their phantasmagorical state.Less daring than Apichatpong Weerasethakul –and although the title of this text plays with the recollection of his film about uncle Boonmee, they are two emotionally different movies–, Kongsakul reveals an enormous ability for harmonizing each and every one of the shots, gestures, suggestions and sounds that it’s made up of. If the reviewing of classic writing in contemporary cinema contributes things, one of them is the renewed sense of ellipsis. The passage from the first block (the ghost cries) to the second (the filmmaker tells the story of the ghost’s life before his death) has a crystal clear beauty, but even more beautiful is the passage from the second to the third block with the frontal shot of a temple and the motorcycle that was there before and now it isn’t. We still can’t see, obliged by the perspective of the long general shot, the aged and tired face of Wit’s wife, but even without seeing it, we already know that’s what it’s going to be like thanks to the subtlety of this ellipsis that continues to demonstrate that emotion in cinema is the territory of the language of cinema itself, without words, without explanations, without highlights, without inserts…QUIM CASAS


Sivaroj Kongsakul

He was born in Thailand and studied at the Suan Sunandha Rajabhat Universidad in Bangkok. He worked with filmmakers like Aditya Assarat and Apichatpong Weerasethakul before taking the big leap to directing shorts. Eternity is his first feature-length film.

Technical information

Edition: 2011
Section: Seven Chances
Original language: Tai