The mythical medieval “To the Ends of Time” is set in a fantasy world where sailing ships fly

By on April 30, 2019

In early 1997, Variety‘s Emanuel Levy described first-time director Markus Rothkranz’s 1996 direct-to-TV epic To the Ends of Time — which soon began airing on the Sy-Fy Channel — as “set in a fantasy world where sailing ships fly and benevolent rulers protect their kingdoms with strange weaponry.”

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Rothkranz came up with the storybook fantasy story himself, about a Clock of Time speeding up so that during the film’s ninety-minute running time we witness entire lifetimes.

We see how several different characters react to man’s inherent struggle to conquer Time, which stands still as a furious battle is unleashed in this mythic medieval fantasy world.

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The film begins with a quote from the Ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus (525-456 B.C.): “Time brings all Things to pass.”

As detailed in Dream Chaser, his autobiographical behind-the-scenes look at the making of To the Ends of Time, Rothkranz had long desired to become a filmmaker.

It wasn’t until he met with George Lucas at Skywalker Ranch, to present him with a commemorative Star Wars pinball game he’d designed, that this “Dream Chaser” began thinking about what his first film should be.

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In 1994, Rothkranz finally began working on this passion project, a motion picture feature film budgeted at $2.5 million, on which he would do nearly everything himself.

He later said “Visually, I approached it as Walt Disney would have with an animated film. That would be very difficult without a great knowledge of visual effects but that is what I’ve done all my life. I’ve learned how to make anything become a reality on screen.”

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Rothkranz wrote most of the screenplay (Dan Benton and Thomas Wheeler are also credited).

He also designed and built literally hundreds of miniature models that were used, including floating castles in the sky and a fleet of more than three hundred ships with little motorized people that move around on the decks.

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Rothkranz created all of the film’s 400 visual effects, painted the matte paintings, built all of the props and sets, helped sew costumes (designed by Francine LeCoultre), and designed prosthetic make-up effects as well as the dangerous pyrotechnics and stunts.

He also cast the actors in their roles, including Joss Ackland (“King Francis”), Sarah Douglas (as black-haired sorceress “Karnissa”), Christine Taylor (“Princess Stephanie”), Wayne Thomas Yorke (“Loffo”), Michael Silverback (as the alchemist “Aeschylus”) and James Paradise (“Sauris”), among others.

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If we left anything out, just assume that Rothkranz probably did that too.

He did, however, have considerable help from a handful of professionals, including assistant director Steve Corzan, a few directors of photography (Keith Holland and Brian Duggan), art director Michael Pearce, award-winning special effects genius David Dupuis, editor Jack Tucker, composer Eckart Seeber (whose vibrant score is performed by a full orchestra and choir) and several more.

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Some of the location filming was done in Death Valley, California, where we see twenty armored knights on horseback.

Much of the rest of Rothkranz’s directorial debut, however was created inside a 30,000 square foot warehouse, where Rothkranz imagined virtually everything we see in the skyborne kingdom of Aralon.

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Markus Rothkranz was born August 3, 1962, in Cologne, Germany.

His family moved to Canada when he was five years old, and later emigrated to America, where he became a U.S. citizen.

Today, Rothkranz lives in his solar-powered house in Las Vegas, Nevada, where an elaborate pirate show at the Treasure Island Resort had provided early inspiration for his debut film.

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Early in his life, Rothkranz discovered his skill at drawing, designing and building.

He continued pursuing his creative interests whether it was in the field of art, photography or building miniature models (including a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater made out of toothpicks).

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After a trip to Disneyland when he was thirteen, Rothkranz returned home to Canada (they lived on a farm just outside Toronto at the time) and within a year, he’d built a fully-operational and computerized miniature version of the “Happiest Place on Earth,” spanning 180-square feet, with working monorails and nightly firework displays.

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He later enrolled at the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, where he focused on photo-realistic painting and photography.

He continued to be inspired by the work of Walt Disney by making regular monthly trips to Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida.

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Rothkranz soon began getting jobs building miniature architectural models for retirement communities, sub-divisions and shopping centers, earning thousands of dollars for his efforts.

His desire to work on motion pictures soon led him to Hollywood, though, where he landed his first job with Dream Quest Images.

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There, Rothkranz created and designed visual effects for several big budget Hollywood movies (including Die Hard, Total Recall, and Red Planet, and worked on over 200 TV commercials for major companies and numerous music videos (including Michael Jackson‘s “Monnwalker”).

He was also soon designing the artwork found on movie-oriented pinball machines — including Star Wars, Lethal Weapon 3, Last Action Hero, Jurassic Park, and Tales from the Crypt — for the Chicago-based Data East Corporation.

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These days, Rothkranz  is a successful international best-selling author of numerous books on relationships, healthy living, prosperity and self-empowerment, including Heal Yourself 101, The Prosperity Secret, and book and documentary film titled Free Food and Medicine.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.