Archive for August 18th, 2021

 © 2021 James Clark


     In the film, Nostalgia (1983), filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky is never more in debt to Ingmar Bergman while, at the same time, being never more himself. The vitriolic concerns by which Bergman introduces his hopefuls are masterpieces of destruction. With Tarkovsky, though, it is not the famous few films, like, Wild Strawberries and Persona, but rather, films very unlikely having ever  been heard of, let alone seen. For a study of pestilence, though, our helmsman today knew what was cooking. Therefore, we’re set upon by, particularly, All These Women(1964) and Waiting Women (1952).

As for the personal input, we have Tarkovsky being aware that he would be dead very soon by way of incurable cancer. The waves of reverie and drama in this film muster forces of rare incisiveness.

We encounter a Russian writer, Andrei Gorchakov, supposedly at work upon a study of a seventeen century Russian composer, who worked in Italy. He is as bored with the task as we are. Fortunately, that protagonist with serious misgivings, ignores the pedantry and learns a bit about life. (He is in the second year of being away from his wife and two children. He is shackled to an Italian interpreter who is fluent in Russian, beautiful and, in his view, crushingly boring. What happens?)

It reminds us of the “noted [patrician] expert” of music (who isn’t, at all), in the film, All These Women, where pretty and empty creatures (a harem, in fact) become crushingly boring. Andrei, though, with that sketchy history in tow, will show us another being not strong enough, though strong enough to feel crushed; and  with a gift of nostalgia to become a player of note. Therefore, near the outset of this demanding saga, we have Andrei and the translator, namely, Eugenia, en route to an ancient church renowned for its pageantry, its all-women forces. They’ve stopped to allow her to savor the rough and foggy church area, austere but mysterious, if you look hard enough, and even remarkable. (That description might be her modest calling-card.) He, though, has no heart for what she seems to appreciate. “It’s a marvelous painting,” she overreacts. “I cried the first time I saw it. This light reminds one of autumn in Moscow, in Neskuchyny Garden.” (She can’t help being erudite and pleased. (And why is that such a crime, if one’s heart is warm?) “Come on,” she urges./ “I’ll  stay in the car… I don’t want to. I’ll go ahead and wait for you inside… I already told you. I am fed up with your beauties. I don’t want to take it anymore. All this beauty of yours. I can’t take it anymore. That’s it…” (more…)

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