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Time Indefinite (1993)

Not Rated | | Biography | 12 May 1993 (USA)
Forty year old documentary filmmaker Ross McElwee has a penchant for filming everything around him. Following the announcement of his impending marriage to his film-making partner Marilyn ... See full summary »


Ross McElwee


Ross McElwee




Credited cast:
Steve Ascher Steve Ascher ... Self
Michael Blumenthal Michael Blumenthal ... Self
Robert Gardner Robert Gardner ... Self
Dee Dee Geraty Dee Dee Geraty ... Self (archive footage) (as Deedee Gerharty)
Joe Haritonidis Joe Haritonidis ... Self
Natalie Hawley Natalie Hawley ... Self
John Kristensen John Kristensen ... Self
Richard Leacock ... Self
David LeVine David LeVine ... Self
Debbie LeVine Debbie LeVine ... Self
Marilyn Levine Marilyn Levine ... Self
Mitchell J. Levine Mitchell J. Levine ... Self (as Dr. Mitchell J. LeVine)
Rob LeVine Rob LeVine ... Self
Roz LeVine Roz LeVine ... Self
Ann McElwee Ann McElwee ... Self


Forty year old documentary filmmaker Ross McElwee has a penchant for filming everything around him. Following the announcement of his impending marriage to his film-making partner Marilyn Levine - marriage something that he and his family never thought would happen for him - McElwee turns on the camera to film life as it happens in respect to this new phase in his life. Both in real terms (as it applies to himself and those around him) and philosophical terms, McElwee discusses, through self-narration, life, death, love, family and babies. Written by Huggo

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Ross McElwee: My brother took this slide of his patient's breast tumor for his medical records. It's horrifying that this woman was attacked by this awful tumor. But I can't stop thinking about this image on a whole other level, having to do with denial. She simply denied she had this thing on her body; pretended it wasn't there. I mean, it's kind of like death itself, you know, this huge, grotesque thing that stares us in the face, but somehow we manage to deny it, to abstract it. Which is also what happens...
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We'll Understand It Better Bye and Bye
Performed by Sweet Honey in the Rock
Courtesy Flying Fish Records, Chicago
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User Reviews

Captures the interior/exterior dialogue of life clearly and beautifully
30 November 1999 | by BenzoSee all my reviews

In the head of every human runs a dialogue with oneself. We are thinking about the perception our eyes are scanning every moment. In the head of a filmmaker, these processes are twice as complex, as he is examining the world as if it were life imitating art and vice versa. There's a sly and profound moment in Ross McElwee's "Time Indefinite" where the filmmaker (and main subject) is having his blood drawn, in accordance with the State Laws that require such an ordeal before marriage. Ross is looking at this through his camera and he tells us that he would rather watch it through his viewfinder because it's almost as if it were not happening in real life, but only in the world inside his film. That said, he purports to make his life into a document of absolute truth - sometimes comical, sometimes endearing - always real. What an amazing technique. What a film of exploration. Never have I sat viewing a film that moved me so effortlessly.

He bargains with his wife on the wedding day for ten more minutes of footage. Why would someone do that? He has grown up around his uncles, who shot thousands of hours of home movie footage and when he unearths the footage of his parents' wedding, not seen for ages, he realizes how many moments have been missed. To Ross, those ten minutes he is granted by his wife are ten minutes more he will have documented regarding the great journey of victories and downfalls that his life.

The film appears to be the maximum in solipsism, but, in fact, the opposite is more true. Ross doesn't come off as self-obsessed, but rather concerned. He is concerned with death and the whole issue of mortality that confronts us all. He wants a record of his life. Sure, he has a performance aspect to his role inside the film's world and the "flat but cynical" (To quote the great Paul Swann) voice-over narration, added long after the camera was put away, adds an internal aspect that puts him in center stage; but forget all that - this is a treasure to him. All this footage that everyone he knows has had to cope with being a part of is well-worth it in spades. Ross McEffee has done himself and his family justice when he paints his world out of what it gives him on a daily basis - reality and hidden messages within the everyday humdrum.

Isn't that life, anyway? A series of images processed to mean what you take it to mean? When Ross greets a Jehova's Witness at the door and questions the bible as a means of comfort to the world's collapse, we are seeing in the simplest of terms, one thing perceived two different ways.

This is Ross's life according to Ross. And it's brilliant

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Release Date:

12 May 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Määräämätön aika See more »

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