‘The Timekeepers of Eternity’ CFF Review – ‘The Langoliers’ Gets an Innovative, Experimental Reworking

The Langoliers, a 1995 TV miniseries based on Stephen King’s 1988 novella, usually ranks somewhere among the most forgotten or worst of King adaptations. At best, television’s limitations and the ‘90s CGI date the miniseries, especially once the eponymous creatures start chomping up the scenery. Filmmaker Aristotelis Maragkos laboriously re-edits the miniseries using paper collage techniques and animation. The result is The Timekeepers of Eternity, a condensed, experimental, and ingenious reworking of the source material.

The setup sees most passengers and crew of a red-eye flight to Boston disappear without a trace; only their personal belongings remain. Only the passengers asleep during the mysterious anomaly remain, and they reroute the plane to the abandoned airport in Bangor, Maine. Time is of the essence as the survivors try to piece together what happened and how to get home.

Maragkos trims away all excess fat, compressing the miniseries from three hours to one, effectively altering its focus and themes. Printing each individual frame and reassembling through experimental animation techniques imbue his lo-fi, monochrome cut with a high level of visual interest. It impressively enhances the antagonist Toomy’s (Bronson Pinchot) mental deterioration and his self-soothing tic of paper shredding.

Above all, the paper collage techniques lend a tactile quality and bring Toomy’s childhood boogeymen, the Langoliers, to life in an inventive, metatextual fashion. Maragkos isn’t just excising the narrative excess; he’s using the format to add depth and accentuate character arcs or themes. Ripped paper that reveals overlaid scenes highlight madness and literal rips in time. The animated technique also lends a sense of stakes; time eats away at the frame, instilling a foreboding nothingness.

That means that Maragkos keeps Toomy as the centerpiece of this cut. It’s his psychosis and trauma that takes center stage. Dean Stockwell’s Bob and Kate Maberly’s blind teen Dinah provide mystical answers and move the plot forward as needed, meaning they receive almost as much attention. Everyone else fades to secondary supporting players at best, but Maragkos ensures that never feels like a loss or detriment. Maragkos also repurposes the ending to suit this wild experiment, lending a more apropos downtrodden tone in the process.

The Timekeepers of Eternity is an ambitious, unexpected experiment in remixing art with multiple techniques and mediums. It’s a singular vision and a complete story that mines new ideas from a nearly three-decade-old made-for-TV miniseries. It can’t completely erase or override all of the miniseries’ more dated components, performances, or occasional cheesy lines of dialogue, but what Maragkos does with the material is still masterful and innovative. Maragkos single-handedly forges a new approach to older works, using it to boldly wring new ideas from it. The feature isn’t just a trimmed-down cut but an entire, painstaking reworking that shapes The Langoliers into something wholly different and unique. It makes for a separate feature that can stand on its own or serve as an engaging, experimental companion piece.

The Timekeepers of Eternity screened at the Chattanooga Film Festival.

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