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The Russian poet Andrei Gorchakov, accompanied by guide and translator Eugenia, is traveling through Italy researching the life of an 18th-century Russian composer. In an ancient spa town, ... See full summary »
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Most of the reviewers have noticed the significant moment in the movie when an old building is destroyed to reveal a new one in the background. Some have identified that new building with the unfulfilled Soviet promise of Stalin. I think if one were to be malicious that image can be interpreted as the new Russia coming to birth under Khrushchev, the old building is the older Soviet Russia that needs to be destroyed in order to make room for the newer, shinier state. But the image can transcend this interpretation (which is probably what the decision makers in the censorship bureau had in mind) and can be said to hold on a higher level: the new building can represent an ideal that can only be attained with purification from the old. And such an interpretation, it seems, is also supported by the fact that it's raining at that moment, and rain as a purifying element is also present in Rublev or Stalker. The only differences that I can find between this movie and the later ones rest in the production values. Otherwise all the elements that account for Tarkovsky's style can already be found on a smaller scale here. To name some of them: 1) the position of the camera, slightly above the characters looking down at them. 2) the use of mirrors, or reflecting surfaces to make a poetic statement. 3) consistent shots that have a certain wholeness in favor of editing. 4) in terms of themes, prevalent in his movies, we have the relation between a youth and a father figure (Ivan, Rublev, Offret) as the central theme here. 5) I have already mentioned the purifying rain, the dripping water used as the only sound covering the soundtrack etc. Overall, the movie is clearly Tarkovskyan with moments of pure magic combined almost paradoxically with moments of pure boredom when the camera seems to forget it's there and remains unjustifiably fixed on an uninteresting object (a "technique" which will infuse Solyaris or Nostalghia). This is probably why the movie seems longer than 45 minutes. But I guess that was O.K, I felt much rewarded watching it and I learned a great lesson about the creative process of one of the greatest minds of cinema.
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