Image of a hand writing 'Eternity' in chalk on the sidewalk

NFSA Restores: Eternity

NFSA Restores: Eternity premiere at Sydney Film Festival

New restoration premiered at Sydney Film Festival
 Chris Arneil

Celebrating 25 years since its release, the acclaimed documentary Eternity (1994), by award-winning director Lawrence Johnston (Life, Fallout), has been restored as part of our NFSA Restores program. The restoration screened at the 2019 Sydney Film Festival.

Before and after trailer for the digital restoration of Eternity, 1994. NFSA title: 1561080

One-word wonder

Eternity was an international festival favourite on its initial release, winning the Los Angeles Documentary Festival’s prestigious Award for Best Documentary Feature Film, among many others.

‘Eternity’ was the word that seemed to appear magically overnight in perfect copperplate script across the sidewalks of Sydney for over 40 years, starting in the 1930s. The film tells the mysterious and heartbreaking story of Arthur Stace, one of Australia’s first graffiti artists. 

Known to many as ‘Mr Eternity’, he became an icon in Sydney and influenced many with his use of this powerful word. It is estimated he wrote ‘Eternity’ over half a million times before his death in 1967.

An excerpt from Eternity, Director of Photography Dion Beebe uses black-and-white film to capture the mood and time of Sydney in the 1930s. NFSA title: 1561080

Echoes of Eternity

The emotional story behind Arthur Stace and his writing of 'Eternity' was re-created and shot in the very locations of Arthur’s early canvas: inner-city Sydney, photographed in beautiful black-and-white by Academy Award winning cinematographer Dion Beebe (Memoirs of a Geisha, Mary Poppins Returns). His work on Eternity won him the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award for Best Cinematography in a Non-Feature Film in 1994.

Stace’s story is complemented by interviews with an array of colourful Sydney characters that either knew him personally, or felt a deep connection to the sighting of the beautiful word written beneath their feet.

Eternity has now been lovingly restored to the highest international archival standards by the NFSA Restores program and is available to screen in today’s digital cinemas. It joins other documentaries restored as part of the program, including My Survival as an Aboriginal (1978), Witches and Faggots, Dykes and Poofters (1980) and Rocking the Foundations (1985).