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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Like the Russian poet of 'Nostalghia', who, accompanied by his Italian guide and translator, traveled through Italy researching the life of an 18th-century Russian composer, Andrei ... See full summary »
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, he meets the lunatic Domenico, who years earlier had imprisoned his own family in his house for seven years to save them from the evils of the world. Seeing some deep truth in Domenico's act, Andrei becomes drawn to him. In a series of dreams, the poet's nostalgia for his homeland and his longing for his wife, his ambivalent feelings for Eugenia and Italy, and his sense of kinship with Domenico become intertwined. Written by
Anonymous and Brian McInnis
This was Andrey Tarkovsky's first film directed outside of the USSR. It was supposed to be filmed in Italy with the support of Mosfilm, with most of the dialogue in Italian. When Mosfilm support was inexplicably withdrawn, Tarkovsky used part of the budget provided by Italian State Television and French film company Gaumont to complete the film in Italy and cut some Russian scenes from the screenplay, while recreating Russian locations for other scenes in Italy. See more »
Apparently even Tarkovsky described this film as 'tedious', so you can imagine what it's like to be on the receiving end. But for some reason I don't find it so, although there is the occasional longuer. It's one of the great films of cinema, although certainly rather odd. Once again it has an impossibly glamourous Russian wandering about looking moody, engrossed in the big issues. In fact, the female lead falls for him and is exasperated by his absurd interest in a local derelict. She flashes a tit in erotic frustration which is unusual for Tarkovsky, he seems unwilling to really engage in issues of sexuality, preferring them to be chaste in an almost victorian manner. Certainly there was some accusations of a reactionary attitude to women, for at the start of the film a priest tells the guide that she should sacrifice herself for the sake of raising children. She is made to look rather absurd in the film, but in truth, so do the male characters. Perhaps it was due to cultural traditions in Tarkovsky's background rather than deliberate misogyny.
The Italians didn't take to this film as it did not film Italy in a vibrant manner, preferring to evocate the alienation and melancholia of it's Russian lead. Tarkovsky's brilliance as a director is well illustrated in the film where the Russian and the old man talk in a room. The camera seems to turn a full 360 degrees although you don't notice it. The way his characters and objects seem to float in and out of frame is amazing. It's strange, but nature seems to perform for Tarkovsky. Even the animals seem willing to be directed, a dog staring straight into the camera with an almost unearthly and uncanny presence and stillness. The scene where the Russian lies on his hotel bed and his nostalgia conjurs up his dog in a dream like but also tangibly real manner is powerful and haunting.
The problem with this film is that the lead character was not really in exile and could go home anytime, unlike Tarkovsky himself, so why was he in so much pain? Is it mere homesickness as opposed to the real longing for one's homeland rightly belonging to the truly disenfranchised? But perhaps that is not the issue, more that when man finds himself and true wisdom, is it too late in the day for him to use what he has learned? The self sacrifice of the old man is a return to an old theme of Tarkovsky's that perhaps only shame can save mankind.
There are many eccentric aspects to this film, for instance the Russian wandering around up to his waist in water. Also there is a brief and bizarre shot of an angel stomping around outside a house. As it's Tarkovsky you don't burst out laughing. Perhaps he reaches the parts other directors cannot reach.
But there are also some vividly beautiful moments. The doves being released in the church, and the light filtering through a stream of water in a gutted house. Towards the end of his career, Tarkovsky began to question the rigid criteria he used in shooting a film in a way he felt won purity and aschewed the vulgar and trivial, but I think he got it right here. A marvelous film.
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