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The Steamroller and the Violin More at IMDbPro »Katok i skripka (original title)

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22 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

we all dream of something else

8/10
Author: ottfried (ottfried@gmail.com) from Denmark
12 February 2007

- but we all have our parts to play.

this is a very fine piece of Soviet culture (communist belief), produced as a children's movie, but definitely for adults too.

The symbolic imagery is abundant - the boy violinist trying to impress little girl violinist outside the music rehearsal studio, the girl first refusing the apple he gave her, but when she heard him play, she ate it; the boy being impressed with the mechanics of the steamroller; the steamroller driver longing for the pleasure of music to lighten up his monotonous day, which the boy can provide; the woman steamroller driver longing for the male steamroller driver; the envious street brats teasing the boy violinist; the boy violinist being taught to stand up for a smaller boy by the steamroller driver; the shining new Moscow building appearing behind the old being torn down; the adult, who has lived through the 2nd world war, helping the child over the puddle of water in the street; the adult worker chiding the child for not acknowledging his talents as musician; the well educated mother chiding the child for forgetting his initial promise for the evening and in stead on a whim having promised to meet the steamroller driver for a movie; the steamroller driver being stood up by the boy at the movie theater and the next day he will have to go work somewhere else and never see the boy again; the woman steamroller driver "accidentally" bumping into the male driver at the theater and he reluctantly goes with her and "leaves the music behind"...

a very moral story, but with the twist that everybody must do, what they are good at, at any given moment. If the society recognizes a need for musicians, we MUST have musicians, and if we need workers, we MUST have workers. But we can dream, we can always dream, of being someone else - and it is this longing that gives us the desire to do and be. Eg. when the boy is in the practice studio, he is chided for having too much imagination, i.e. he should just fulfill his part, which is interpreting the music to the best of his abilities. But the reason for his lack of concentration is that he is thinking of the girl outside the room, whom he gave the apple. Later, he plays to the musician, and now he is good, now he is concentrated - because in this instant he recognizes the differences between him and the steamroller - he recognizes that he has a responsibility to perform to the best of his abilities, and he does so with knowledge and humility.

I don't care for what communism became or was, but there is a valuable lesson learned in this gem of a movie: We must do, what we do best, and do it to the best of our abilities. And, yes, we dream - but we will always dream - of something else, BECAUSE NO ONE CAN DO EVERYTHING THAT HE HIMSELF NEEDS. Thus - in spite of the frame of reference - it becomes a film of how a society is structured.

8/10

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20 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Foreshadow...

8/10
Author: LE020
6 June 2002

A foreshadow of things to come, which in its own right is a little-known jewel of Russian and world cinema...I would advise any beginning Tarkosvskologist to view this film twice: before and after viewing his masterpieces. Then, they'll understand...

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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Underrated....

Author: (gary@2ze.com) from Toronto, Canada
12 July 2002



Strongly recommended. Tarkovsky initial work showing multiple glimpses of his genius. This short film has great depth and detail. Personally it is was the only Tarkovsky film that I had not seen, and now that I have I rate it very highly. In retrospect to his ouvre it may be strong to use the term "masterpiece", but regardless it is so. It is also probably the most accessible for viewers not familiar with his work and could prove as a perfect introduction. I urge you to see it.

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Roots of a genius

7/10
Author: veganflimgeek (David@vegsandiego.com) from San Diego, CA
13 February 2004

Roots are sometimes dirty.

This student film from Russia's greatest film genius does a lot with it's short running time. This should mostly be seen for no other reason than it is the roots of genius. There is no epic story telling just a well told two story of two Russians from different worlds who for one day are able to be the friends they are looking for.

The camera work is interesting…albeit sometimes overly arty. However in a short student film that is kinda the point huh? I was lucky to get this at the library and I would say this is worth a rental not purchase unless you're a diehard fan.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

In the beginning

8/10
Author: Galina from Virginia, USA
19 February 2009

Andrei Tarkovsky's school graduation project, the short film Katok i Skripka or Steamroller and the Violin (1960), by the words of Russian critic Maya Turovskaya, the first rate film, is promise of the things that would come so powerfully in his later films. The most important part of the little film was the joy of showing the beauty and poetry of the ordinary familiar things. The whole world of the film is saturated in colors, filled by myriads of playful solar spots, mirror reflections (yes, mirror - one of the favorite Tarkovsky's images is already presented here), patches of light on water, all living, pulsing, sparkling. Tarkovsky's camera man, the famous cinematographer Vadim Yusov recalls that the idea of the film came to young director after watching the French short film "Red Balloon" (1956) by Albert Lamorisse that ran successfully in the theaters at the time. "Red Balloon" defined the color palette of Tarkovsky's movie. The dominant color for Katok i Skripka was red mixed with yellow and compared to blue in the sky above and in the clothing of two main characters, the young boy playing violin and the grown up man, the driver of a steamroller, who had became his friend, even if for a short time.

I'd say that the first Tarkovsky's work is perhaps his most accessible, light, sweet, and warm - the terms we don't usually associate with the master of serious metaphysical, deeply philosophical, even cosmic films that lack conventional dramatic structure. I think it would be a good starting point for anyone interested in Tarkovsky's work. It is interesting to compare Katok i Skripka to Tarkovsky's next work, his first feature, astounding Ivanovo Detstvo (Ivan's Childhood), another film about a boy but completely different from Steamroller and the Violin.

For his diploma project, Andrei Tarkovsky won the first prize at the New York Student Film Festival in 1961.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

What a delight!

10/10
Author: Bryan Hargrave from Las Vegas
22 July 2005

I consider myself fortunate that this was my first venture into Soviet cinema. The fact that this was director Tarkovsky's graduate student film makes it all the more remarkable.

With a minimalist approach to dialog, Tarkovsky relies on imagery to communicate emotions and feelings, and he does so well. It's still a period piece, with obvious salutes to the "Worker's Paradise" but this is not propaganda. Rather, it is a beautiful tale of a brief friendship. Two people from different worlds are borough together, and are torn apart due to circumstances beyond their control, but you get the impression that they'll be wealthier for the experience. Highly recommended! 10/10

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Fascinating from many points of view

9/10
Author: Melissa Smith (mtsmith.02@ysu.edu) from Youngstown, OH
10 September 2005

A gentle tale of a boy-violinist who is taunted by his peers and misunderstood by the predominantly female figures in his life (mother, music teacher, little girl-violinist), but introduced to the world of "manliness" by a chance encounter with a member of the working class. Both boy and man are enriched by the interchange, which crosses lines of class and age.

For fans of Tarkovsky, it is more revealing as a foretaste of visual images in the filmmaker's later work than of thematic development. But as a study of human psychology and an image of life in the former Soviet Union, it is a source of much to contemplate. Since the story line has certain gaps in it (the editing seems more image- than plot-oriented), however, it bears watching through twice (at 43 minutes, this is not a cumbersome task!)

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

the childlike charm is unexpected

7/10
Author: Michael Neumann from United States
13 January 2011

The most surprising aspect of Andrei Tarkovsky's graduate project from the Moscow Film Institute is that a director who would later be known for his dense, opaque meditations on more than one difficult theme could begin his career with a story of such benign, uncomplicated innocence. Using warm pastel colors and a (mostly) adolescent cast, Tarkovsky follows a small boy, a budding musician at the mercy of his less sensitive peers, to his daily violin lesson, where he silently flirts with another young music student, and later finds a new friend in the operator of a steamroller at work outside his apartment. The traditional Soviet preoccupation with heroic workers and heavy machinery does nothing to disrupt the lyrical charm of the scenario, and the spare elegance of Tarkovsky's direction (the film is only 46-minutes long) is distinctly refreshing compared to the protracted artistic angst of his later masterpieces.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

It won't change your life, but it's a nice little film.

8/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
12 January 2012

This is one of the earliest films by the famed Russian writer/director Andrey Tarkovskiy. Unlike some of his later films that tend to be very slow, long and deep (such as "Andrei Rublev" or the original "Solaris"), "The Steamroller and the Violin" is much more approachable--more a film for the average person.

This is either a short movie or a long short film depending on your perspective. It's a sweet little story about an adorable little boy who is being forced to learn the violin (as he clearly is gifted) but the other kids tend to make fun of him and pick on him. But, when he meets a nice man who runs the steamroller, the boy has a bit of an adventure and quickly bonds with the guy. There is some nice symbolism but mostly it's just a nice little slice of life of a film.

Very nice acting, deft direction and pretty vivid color for 1961 make this worth a look. Not great...but very nice. And, a lot easier to get into than some of Takovskiy's other films.

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

The end of an obsession. A foretaste of things to come.

7/10
Author: Preston-10 from Phoenix, AZ
7 September 2001

STEAMROLLER AND VIOLIN represents the conclusion of my long search to see every one of Andrei Tarkovsky's accessible films of his sparse catalogue. Does the movie hold up to all the other films that Tarkovsky has done? Well, not quite. Nevertheless, the film does highlight the use of several techniques typical of Russian film: split screens, montage, and experimentation of sound. It's also a foretaste of things to come, highlighting Tarkovsky's unique style starting with his first, full-length movie, IVAN'S CHILDHOOD. Overall, an interesting achievement.

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