The Timekeepers of Eternity
Text: Giuseppe Di Salvatore
A long video essay?
There is a Stephen King novella, The Langoliers (1990), from which Tom Holland produced a 2-episode TV mini-series of 180 minutes (1995), from which Aristotelis Maragkos edited and animated his The Timekeepers of Eternity. This stratification of stories reverberates in Maragkos’ use of ripping papers as principal ideas of animation, where the screen is constantly split into two or more layers. More embedding elements: the aesthetic of the split screen not only allows the shrinking of the story but also refers to the Nineties, and the idea of ripping papers generates from Holland’s series itself, for its main character, Craig Toomey, uses the ripping of papers in order to soothe his paranoid hallucinations. Is Maragkos’ film nothing more than a re-editing exercise on a previous film that effectively has the chance to overcome its narrative weaknesses through a more compact “collaged” version?
An alternative reading: The Timekeepers of Eternity is rather a classical video essay, where an original videographic idea superposes and critically comments on old film footage? In this case, the specificity of Maragkos’ film would be the task of respecting and newly interpreting the story in its linear and accomplished form – a constraint that is rarely present in video essays. The other specific aspect of the film, partly a consequence of the first one, is the important length of the video essay because one hour of essayistic interventions on a previous footage is certainly not easy to see, but The Timekeepers of Eternity is a very enjoyable film indeed. Now, the main feature responsible for this is actually the original intriguing plot by King/Holland, and here lies the principal weakness of the film - to my eyes - if it is interpreted as a video essay. After 10-15 minutes one completely “digests” the formal device of Maragkos’ animation, which thereby becomes completely transparent, letting emerge the original plot as the only leading focus of the viewer’s attention. In this perspective, the film amounts to a sheer video re-view of (the summary of) Holland’s series.