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    Default Nostalghia - Andrei Tarkovsky (1983) (Review/Analysis) Discussion Welcome

    NOSTALGHIA - ANDREI TARKOVSKY (1983) - PART I

    Andrei Tarkovsky cemented his semi-autobiographical personal odyssey with Nostalghia, perhaps the pinnacle of his cinematic art.

    The visuals of Nostalghia are consumed by a mesmerizing oneiric state, languished in the aftermath of overwhelming tragedy, seemingly under the intense burden and guidance of solemn prayer or deep, contemplative thought. The environments are so evocative that they become metaphysical extensions of the main characters (in particular, Andrei), enveloping their confounded, contemplative wanderings; their existential purgatory. Tarkovsky does not merely show the protagonist experiencing emotional episodes – he shows the entire scene, its foregrounds, backgrounds, weather, nature, landscapes and archaic, ruinous buildings as emotional impressions and representations of states of mind. Each sequence becomes a gradual unveiling, presented as if miraculous conceptions of time and place, and under the grip of the protagonists’ intense feelings of nostalgia. He is transfixed on moments in time, on his memories, on people and objects, on his environment, gazing upon and longing for them as if he is seeing them for the last time before death. The surrounding landscapes and environments may be Italy but they take on the character of Russia, reflecting his immersion and longing for his homeland. Throughout the film, characters will each seem to be fraught with alternating, ambiguous mental states and purposes, and inexplicable assumptions of being. The film will become increasingly structured as a stream-of-consciousness, while each separate sequence is linked together by an inexorable fate that seems the pieces of a broad, ascending schematic of poetry, heavenly scenes, religious iconography and haunting, esoteric symbolism that reaches a transcendent, highly metaphysical plane. For its soundtrack, Verdi’s Requiem, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, as well as strands of Debussy, Wagner and Russian folk songs are deftly employed to powerful effect in backing the visuals and themes of the film.

    Nostalghia presents its main protagonist, Andrei Gorchakov, as a filmic representation of Tarkovsky. He visits Italy to research the obscure composer Pavel Sosnovsky but finds himself unable to maintain focus and operate there due to a profound and stifling longing for his homeland of Russia. Opening the film is a memory (in first person perspective) of Andrei’s family, joining together atop a Russian countryside, shrouded in mist, intensely nostalgic and dream-like. In the next shot, Andrei and his comely interpreter, Eugenia, arrive by car in the Tuscan countryside, which is also shrouded in mist, intensely nostalgic and dream-like. This is an introduction to a central motif of the film. Tuscan is visually reminiscent of the previous scene from Russia, posing the following: Italy is overwhelmed by Andrei’s state of mind, and has been replaced by his nostalgic longing for Russia. They get out of the car and gradually walk up the countryside to a convent, swallowed by the heavy mist as they make their way there. Stifled by nostalgic despair at the intensity of his surroundings, Andrei lags behind.

    Inside the convent, Eugenia views frescoes by Piero della Francesca, while Andrei refuses to enter, instead waiting outside, struck by memories of his family back home in Russia. Eugenia observes while a prayer is made to motherhood by a young woman and a group of religious followers. At the climax of her prayer, she releases a flock of birds from inside the clothing of a statue of Jesus, shown to be “overseen” by Piero della Francesca's fresco of The Virgin Mary. This fresco is being viewed by Eugenia and gazed upon through the first person camera perspective of Tarkovsky himself, then juxtaposed with a shot of Andrei Gorchakov staring back into the camera. While appearing to be standing outside the convent, he is actually standing inside his own memory of his Russian homestead, as if looking back at The Virgin Mary/Eugenia in Italy (as if it was all a vision he had from before). A feather from the flock of birds at the convent gradually falls from the sky, floating down to the floor and also into Andrei Gorchakov’s memory, suggesting a spiritual connection and influence between he, The Virgin Mary, his family, Russia, the young pregnant woman and her prayer, Italy and Eugenia. This is a profound introduction to another central motif of the film: an absence of frontiers and a direct connection between people, regardless of time and place; a longing for one's own spiritual nature, for oneself; a longing to understand Art through direct, penetrative understanding regardless of its inherent foreign nature as the creation of another; a longing to be connected with one's family, to one's homeland (prior to this, Tarkovsky had been exiled from Russia, thus filming in Italy while separated from his family).

    Andrei and Eugenia arrive at their hotel. There, he is caught between memories of his wife back in Russia, and holding a conversation with Eugenia in the present, confusing/unifying the two. He and Eugenia converse about art, the sort of nostalgia peculiar to Russians, and the need to rid the world of frontiers (each a vocal introduction to the most extensive themes of the film). This sequence is edited with the spatial difference between Eugenia and Andrei collapsed/mirrored, suggesting unification, confusion, and that their conversation may also be an internal dialogue between two facets of the same mind (Tarkovsky). Mid-conversation, Andrei is stricken by his memories of home, of his daughter running across the countryside and playing catch with his dog.

    Afterwards, he enters his hotel room and his dog suddenly arrives from his memories to join him in Italy, and thereafter in various scenes throughout the rest of the film, appearing to be both Andrei’s as well as Domenico’s (one of several suggestions that Andrei and Domenico are different facets of the same personality/being). Eugenia also visits him at the door of his hotel room and she seems smitten with Andrei before leaving to her room with her advances and expectations unacknowledged.

    Andrei falls asleep in his room and into a haunting, enigmatic dream sequence. Here, Eugenia and Andrei’s wife (who, at various points in the film is alluded to as a spiritual reincarnation of the Virgin Mary) seem to coexist as one, intertwined in a pose and facial expressions suggesting secrecy, erotica and a merging of their bodies/personalities (reminiscent of Bergman’s Persona). Their union is a metaphor for Andrei’s merging of Italy and Russia, as well as his mental confusion/unification of the two women. As the dream sequence continues, Eugenia becomes grief-stricken with bleeding hands (allusion to crucifixion?), and his wife becomes pregnant (allusion to The Virgin Mary?). Mentally speaking, there doesn’t seem to be a clear demarcation made between the two women, a possible psychological reference to Andrei’s fear of cheating on his wife with Eugenia (or that Eugenia will try to press the issue). This also suggests a thematic connection resulting from the sequence inside the convent where the prayers for motherhood were made, and where the juxtaposition and merging between The Virgin Mary, Andrei and Eugenia, Italy, Russia and his family occurred. Concluding this sequence is a haunting image of Andrei’s wife, pregnant and lying down in a still-life, funereal pose, dissipating from his dream and into his present reality, then gone again, as he awakens in his hotel room in what physically appears to be the exact same place, though the scene has seamlessly transitioned from Russia to Italy.

    Soon, Andrei meets Domenico, a highly idiosyncratic man considered insane by the surrounding community. Domenico once locked his family inside their house for 7 years in an ill-advised attempt to protect them from the apocalypse. Their first encounter occurs in a hypnotic, dream-like sequence, surrounding an old Roman bath in the center of the Tuscan village Bagno Vignoni, overwhelmed by a heavy mist and shot with camera movements that glide in a stately, floating grace. It is shot in a first person perspective in which the characters walk in and out of the point of view of the camera, and their ruminations and vocalizations seem to be both what “they” are communicating and “thoughts” or “monologues” from the point of view/camera perspective (Tarkovsky himself).

    Domenico leaves Bagno Vignoni, and Andrei and Eugenia leave shortly thereafter to meet him at his home. There, they attempt to convince Domenico to see them, though he seems aloof, introverted and disinterested. Eugenia suddenly leaves in disgust, upset that Andrei pays so little attention to consummating their relationship, instead dedicating himself to meeting Domenico and in urging her to help him do so. Once she leaves, Andrei then talks to Domenico himself and soon gains entry to his home, which is a broken down wreck: holes in the ceiling, puddles all over the flooring, purposeless doorways, haunting pictures and strange notes posted on the walls and bottles littered about to catch the rain. It is a dilapidated labyrinth of ideas, of mistaken identity, time and place.

    As Andrei enters, the door opens like a portal, as if he is stepping into another time and place. Much of the sequence is dream-like. As before with Eugenia, Tarkovsky portrays the ongoing conversation between Andrei and Domenico with their spatial relationship collapsed/mirrored, each of them shot as if alone in their own space, but while communicating to the other. The camera movements, to and fro, between the two have a strange sense of unity and solitude to them. As in many scenes throughout the film, Andrei seems to be searching with and for the viewpoint of the camera. He is wandering around only to find himself looking into the camera, or the camera slowly gazing in on him. This is a searching and recognition of self from both vantage points and is subtly expressed at several other points in the film. Andrei and Domenico will not occupy the same frame until Domenico finally shares a task he has for him. Obsessed with the thought of committing an act of faith, Domenico requests that Andrei walk across the Roman bath in the center of Bagno Vignoni, a lit candle in his hand. He must cross before the flame goes out, which Domenico claims will save the whole world. Andrei agrees to the task and leaves, suddenly and conspicuously disappearing from the house altogether (suggesting that Domenico may have been alone the whole time). Domenico is left haunted, in a state of anxiety about being alone. He is consumed by his own nostalgia and deep sorrow over losing his family, stifled by his memories (like Andrei), remembering the day authorities released his imprisoned family. In a character juxtaposition from Domenico’s son Zoe to Andrei, suddenly he and Andrei are seen embracing outside (as if a reunion of father-and-son).

    As Andrei arrives back at Bagno Vignoni, Eugenia is sitting on his bed in his hotel room. She is very upset at him and protests this in a mad, scolding diatribe of non-sequitur ideas and criticisms which suddenly reveals her to be a totally different person, now with a confused, crazed state of mind (like Domenico, especially later on when he is at the Capitoleum). Following Eugenia’s tirade, she storms off to her room to pack and get ready to leave Tuscan, while Andrei suddenly gets a bloody nose and starts falling unconscious. Andrei lies down and Eugenia returns with a letter from the composer Pavel Sosnovsky. Reading it to herself, she begins to understand Andrei and his state of mind. While she is reading, the contents of the letter are also being thought by Andrei (as he is falling unconscious) in an internal monologue that is being vocalized to him by Sosnovsky.

    Part II Below
    click here
    Last edited by TurnaboutVox; May-19-2017 at 23:32. Reason: Housekeeping after thread merger
    "We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time." -- T.S. Eliot

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    I originally wrote and posted this review/analysis some years ago, as it became apparent to me through various discussions that Nostalghia, one of the most profound films of all time, is widely underestimated and misunderstood, even among Tarkovsky's own films.

    While anyone is free to read it, please note that this is primarily written for those who have already seen the film and are interested in further insight into it. While, out of curiosity, it may be of interest even to those who haven't seen it, it probably won't read as well or make as much sense.

    Also note that this is not my entire interpretation, nor the only possible interpretation of the film, just covering all the bases to assist anyone in getting there and developing their own.

    Also, I haven't edited it in a long time, so I make no claims that it is perfectly written
    Last edited by AfterHours; May-19-2017 at 01:39.
    "We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time." -- T.S. Eliot

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    I wish a could write as long as you. I have write reviews and they are all short. One of the wonderful aspects of Tarkovsky cinema is that it allow a lot of interpretations.

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    Default Nostalghia - Andrei Tarkovsky (1983) (Review/Analysis) - PART 2 - Discussion Welcome

    The themes running throughout the film now begin thoroughly merging into even more profoundly moving and vivid expressions of Tarkovsky’s nostalgia and deeply spiritual nature. Andrei falls into a dream state, longingly recalling his wife at home in Russia, as she suddenly awakens there and speaks to him. It seems they have been dreaming about each other simultaneously, and are now in telepathic communion. They are transcending frontiers between themselves, between Italy and Russia. She opens a shade and a bird takes flight from the window sill. She then opens the front door which actually acts as a sort of portal to another time and place, leading Andrei into a different memory, gazing at his family (perhaps as a young boy). In the next shot, his wife and family stand in the Russian countryside in elongated sorrow, looking back (into the camera) at him in haunting close-up, in wrenching despair, the scene drenched in mist and morning dew as their bodies duplicate (two alike memories fused together?) during an uncut, long tracking shot. Slowly in the background, the sun dawns behind them.

    Inside dilapidated, flooded Italian ruins, Andrei loses himself in booze, waxing philosophic in a drunken outpouring to an Italian girl who shows up from behind the walls. An unseen voice (Tarkovsky's father, from the internal monologue of Andrei as a character on-screen and the director himself) recites his poetry as an allusive sermon in voice-over to Andrei as he falls unconscious. He then finds himself in a rampaged, littered, post-apocalyptic alley way near the abandoned house of Domenico, the one he locked his family in for seven years. In a despairing search for answers Andrei makes a startling, haunting revelation about himself. Looking in a mirror, he sees the reflection of Domenico instead of his own, thus discovering that they are the same person and that he infact went mad and imprisoned his family. He cannot confront it and he collapses, shocked and devastated. Andrei suddenly arrives inside the towering ruins of an Italian church, slowly walking through as Eugenia and another voice (God? His father?) converse over him, making hopes for his future, symbolically shown in the form of a feather gradually falling from the sky down into the flooded area where he initially fell unconscious. This floating, descending, lone feather is a circular connection from the earlier memory at the beginning of the film when Eugenia was inside the convent. The film has come full circle, and everything that has happened was set in motion by those earlier events in the convent.

    During a brief interval outside the hotel Andrei contacts Eugenia (who is now in Rome and has found another man). Eugenia becomes stricken with Andrei’s nostalgia for Italy (or “Russia”) and (like Andrei), longs to go see Domenico. Andrei returns to the bath in Bagno Vignoni after he is reminded by Eugenia to fulfill Domenico’s request.

    Domenico is in Rome, atop the Marcus Aurelius statue at the Capitoleum, delivering an elaborate, maniacal diatribe detailing his views on the failings of man, of faith and brotherhood, and his muddled hopes for the future. Eugenia, Andrei’s dog, and dozens of onlookers abound, are standing there in total disconnection from reality, frozen in time as if live statues in petrified awe (a metaphoric approximation of a dream of Pavel Sosnovsky’s, described in the letter that was read by Eugenia, which was written just before the composer committed suicide). At the end of his speech, Domenico pours gasoline on his body, jumps down from the statue and (like Sosnovsky), commits suicide, burning himself alive in an act of immolation to Beethoven’s Ode To Joy, a rebellious call for the world to unite in understanding, faith and universal brotherhood. Only a few of the spectators are lively enough to react, and even they seem detached from reality, separated from time and place.

    Meanwhile, Andrei makes several attempts to cross the bath in Bagno Vignoni, shown in one long excruciating take by Tarkovsky. The candle keeps burning out only partially across. Finally, after nearly passing out and now on the verge of death, he manages to cross to the other side, candle aflame and in hand. As he collapses at the end of the poolside, he makes a desperate attempt to place the candle on the ledge so that it will not extinguish before he draws his last breath, finally accomplishing this a moment before dying. Directly following this, Andrei has visions of a woman who may be his mother, and a young boy who may be his son or perhaps himself as a child. Each seem to be at the bath where he committed his final act as random onlookers but also seem to have a special recognition of what he has done, and, as with many of the shots throughout the film, the camera perspective (Tarkovsky) returns their recognition by longingly holding its gaze upon them. The closing sequence is of Andrei sitting with his dog in front of his Russian home, inside the countryside of the opening scene of the film. They are shown to also be inside the ruins of the Italian church he walked through which is now towering above his Russian home and making up the perimeter of his surroundings. A heavy mist billows between his homestead and the Italian church ruins. Snow falls slowly while angels sing as Tarkovsky makes a dedication to his mother.

    To summarize, Nostalghia is Tarkovsky’s deep-seated internal monologue. He expresses this through the viewpoint of the camera, which is Tarkovsky himself. The long, entranced, subtly moving gazes of the camera are in the first person — they are him, through the shot, seeing things for the last time. When the camera views the characters and scenery (in a longing, subtly moving, aching gaze), Tarkovsky is watching and considering himself, his own spiritual nature, contemplating his thoughts and various points of view, the main characters representing a split of his personality or those he desired resolution or dialogue with before dying (or after leaving Russia).

    Andrei's walk across the bath is a microcosm of an entire lifetime. It is the struggle of a life encapsulated in a single shot, the cycle of birth to death, represented by both the lead character, his persistence and then fading health, and in his hand the lit, flickering then fading, candle flame. Concurrently to Andrei crossing the bath, Domenico's suicide is the fanatical parallel to the same task. Instead of a gentle candle, he has violently lit himself afire. Perhaps the two acts together equal a balance, the dualities of man that, in Tarkovsky's eyes, brings a spiritual salvation to the world: 1 + 1 = 1. According to Oleg Yankovsky, when he first met Tarkovsky to discuss the filming, the director asked the actor to help him fulfill a grand idea to “display an entire human life in one shot, without any editing, from beginning to end, from birth to the very moment of death.” Tarkovsky visualized life in the form of a candle. “Remember the candles in Orthodox churches, how they flicker. The very essence of things, the spirit, the spirit of fire.” And so the act of carrying the candle across the stagnant pool was nothing less than the effort of an entire lifetime encapsulated in one gesture. “If you can do that,” Tarkovsky challenged Yankovsky, “if it really happens and you carry the candle to the end–in one shot, straight, without cinematic conjuring tricks and cut-in editing—then maybe this act will be the true meaning of my life. It will certainly be the finest shot I ever took—if you can do it, if you can endure to the end.” (ref: Fandor.com)

    Throughout the film, Tarkovsky's meditative, nearly still, intensely focused and measured shots can each be compared to mini lifetimes within a whole, the spirit slowly receding from them or slowly illuminating them, represented by the gradual, intricate changes in lighting, character and environment. Each are microcosms and harbingers of the penultimate shot of Andrei crossing the bath with candle in hand. Each could be said to be subliminally leading Andrei to his final task. Each could be said to be metaphors for the candle, its flame showing life by its flicker then gradually extinguishing; these shots, their little lives, slowly birthing, living, then extinguishing one-by-one until Andrei carries out his final task and passes away at the pool's ledge, the candle safely across. The film's lighting and cinematography as a whole can be likened to a gradual trek and reach towards enlightenment. Much of the first half is filled with dimmed or darker lit interiors and dank, gloomy, misted, visually impaired environments, before gradually becoming slightly lighter and more visually clear until the finale. The entire film could be likened to a single, metaphorical candle slowly illuminating a darkness. The scenes can be viewed as retrospective, as the resulting aftermath of Andrei's final act, each moment and the film's entirety now imbued by it, and/or as evidence that he was led there subliminally or by God. At several points in the film, Andrei is struck by a sharp, grinding noise in his mind, which seems to signify the pain of his recollections, the deep, intensity of his nostalgia. It could also signify the subliminal nature of his calling.

    Tarkovsky has erected a monument of interconnected themes and metaphor. It progresses as one inevitable movement, as a liberation of his most personalized feelings, revealing a profound and utterly singular form of spiritual expression. Within this, the themes and metaphors of the film interchange and procreate without warning or explanation. The film moves forward as if a series of visions as opposed to a clearly defined plot. The incidents and conclusions in the film just are, arrived at by thought alone, on a metaphysical, spiritual plane and not subject to the laws of the physical universe. Each theme presented congregates with all other themes presented. Each character represents several identities throughout the film. These assumptions of being represent Tarkovsky’s visions of those he desired an internal dialogue and deeper connection with before death, in perhaps his own plea for salvation (as well as perhaps an identity crises). Andrei becomes Jesus, Domenico becomes God, Eugenia becomes the Madonna, Andrei’s wife becomes Eugenia, Domenico becomes Andrei’s father, and Andrei his son Zoe. Domenico and Andrei merge, becoming each other. They each become Sosnovsky. Italy becomes Russia, the beginning of the film becomes the end of the film, dreams and memories become reality and vice versa. The film is an elaborate composition on the inter-connectivity of all beings and all things, as both a hope and an actuality. It is a visionary embodiment of Tarkovsky’s particular form of Russian nostalgia, which immerses the film’s space from all vantage points: Tarkovsky himself, each of the characters successively, the environments, and, encompassing all of these simultaneously, the viewer, who in essence has been granted the same vantage point as Tarkovsky, or, back of that, God. With the opening shot, it progresses from the first person perspective of Tarkovsky alone, and expands successively to each character and to each sequence and environment, until it is all-consuming, emanating as an epic definition and experience of the concept in all its meaning. It is possible the entire film is a sequence actually starting from the afterlife, from Andrei’s vantage point and visionary context in the last shot, with each sequence a careful re-assessment being mentally “pulled back” from the beginning of the film to the end.

    Nostalghia is Tarkovsky’s moving introspection on pending death, his gradual, intricate unveiling of self as a spiritual being, and an extraordinarily beautiful tableaux and ode to the world he would soon be leaving behind, the world he was losing to memories and dreams, of hope and longing that all things be reappraised as if being seen for the last time; that those things, the people, himself, and all he held dear, be ultimately remembered as works of art. In the final shot, an eternal pose and gaze from the afterlife, Andrei has overcome the frontiers of space, time and human connection: he is back home in Russia while also inside Italy, looking back upon the world he left. Amidst a perpetual Russian snow, along the countrysides of both Italy and his homeland, it is the ominous culmination of his hopes and efforts, an offering that emanates as a fusion of his nostalgia eternally imaged. It is a work of art that merges the mysterious sense of geometry, perspective and profound imagery as that of Renaissance masters Piero della Francesca and Leonardo Da Vinci. As with The Virgin Mary, the entire scene is a monumental religious fresco. Tarkovsky offers himself to her, his humble plea of salvation in honor of the surrogate who has led him there and she who attends to his mother from beyond the grave.
    Last edited by TurnaboutVox; May-19-2017 at 23:31. Reason: Housekeeping after thread merger
    "We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time." -- T.S. Eliot

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    Quote Originally Posted by OldFashionedGirl View Post
    I wish a could write as long as you. I have write reviews and they are all short. One of the wonderful aspects of Tarkovsky cinema is that it allow a lot of interpretations.
    Thank you, it certainly depends on the film and my level of interest! I can only write a lot on films/art that deserves such analysis and that I find fascinating enough to do so! I have a Citizen Kane review/analysis that is much longer than this one, actually, and I am considering posting it.
    "We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time." -- T.S. Eliot

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    Senior Member AfterHours's Avatar
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    Double post that is no longer needed after Parts 1 and 2 were merged onto the same thread
    Last edited by AfterHours; May-19-2017 at 23:46.
    "We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time." -- T.S. Eliot

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    Senior Member AfterHours's Avatar
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    To Admin: I actually prefer the review being all on the same page, so thank you for moving it. Could you please move it to where "Part 2" directly follows, as the very next post after "Part 1"?

    Also, does the "number of characters" allowed refer to the amount allotted to whole page? Or just "per post"? If it's only "per post" I will just post them one after the other, should I run into a similar exceeding of characters in the future.
    Last edited by AfterHours; May-19-2017 at 23:46.
    "We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time." -- T.S. Eliot

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    Compelling quote from Tarkovsky that I'd never seen before until just now and thought those interested in his work would like it. Definitely applicable to the sort of experience a film as astonishing as Nostalghia can provide, among other masterpieces:

    "Touched by a masterpiece, a person begins to hear in himself that same call of truth which prompted the artist to his creative act. When a link is established between the work and its beholder, the latter experiences a sublime, purging trauma. Within that aura which unites masterpieces and audience, the best sides of our souls are made known, and we long for them to be freed. In those moments we recognize and discover ourselves, the unfathomable depths of our own potential, and the furthest reaches of our emotions." --Andrei Tarkovsky
    Last edited by AfterHours; May-26-2017 at 04:54.
    "We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time." -- T.S. Eliot

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    Some Q & A with Tarkovsky from the Cannes film festival, 1983 re: Nostalghia

    Interview questions by Maurizio Porro

    PORRO: Nostalgia for what, Mr. Tarkovsky?

    TARKOVSKY: Our "nostalghia" is not your "nostalgia." It is not an individual emotion but something much more complex and profound that Russians experience when they are abroad. It is a disease, an illness, that drains away the strength of the soul, the capacity to work, the pleasure of living. I analyze this nostalghia confronting it with a concrete story, that of a Soviet intellectual who comes to Italy.

    Afflicted with this nostalghia, how did you find working with us?

    Extremely well, because cinema, in any case, is a big family everywhere. I made the film without the use of a translator, making myself understood with broken phrases. Film uses a universal language, it helps us to understand each other, to explain ourselves. However, I do find that in Italy there is far too much discussion and arguing over the financial aspects of this type of work, of filmmaking, which instead are not considered to be so essential by we in Russia.

    Looking at the Russian protagonist, one is tempted to view it as being an autobiographical film.

    It is, but only from the artistic point of view. In fact, in this sense, I have never made a film that has mirrored my moods with such violence, that has liberated my interior world so profoundly, as this one. I myself, when I saw the completed film, was stunned in the face of this expressive force. I felt almost ill: the same thing that one experiences when looking at oneself in the mirror, or when one has the impression of even having gone beyond one's own intentions.
    ____________________

    Interview questions by Natalia Aspesi

    Why don't you want to talk about your film?

    That's not accurate. I don't wish to recount the plot of the film, which, in and of itself, means nothing. What interest is there in knowing that it deals with a Russian writer who comes to Italy to carry out research about a countryman of his, an artist about whom all traces were lost two centuries ago, and that he encounters an Italian professor and a blond translator? But I can try to explain what the film tries to say. It is the expression of an emotion, the one that is most deeply rooted in me, that I have never felt so strongly as when I left the Soviet Union. It is for this reason that I say that I could have filmed Nostalghia only in Italy. And we Russians, for us nostalghia is not a gentle and benevolent emotion, as it is for you Italians. For us it is a sort of deadly disease, a mortal illness, a profound compassion that binds us not so much with our own privation, our longing, our separation, but rather with the suffering of others, a passionate empathy.

    Where do you situate Nostalghia in the context of your body of work?

    Nostalghia is an extremely important film for me. It is a film in which I have managed to express myself fully. I must say that it has confirmed for me that cinema is a truly great art form, capable of representing faithfully even the most imperceptable movements of the human soul.

    What struck you most upon seeing, even if only once, your completed film?

    Its almost unbearable sadness, which, however, reflects very well my need to immerse myself in spirituality. In any case, I can't stand mirth. Cheerful people seem guilty to me, because they can't comprehend the mournful value of existence. I accept happiness only in children and the elderly, with all others I am intolerant.

    In a career that spans over 23 years, why have you made only six films?

    Because I have only made the films that I wanted to make, and these required considerable financing. Now, being over fifty years of age, I begin to pose to myself the problem of this sort of prudence, of avarice, of mine. Perhaps I now must hurry, I must work more, say everything.
    "We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time." -- T.S. Eliot

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