Talking Pictures alias







About Us



All Tarkovsky enthusiasts will want to watch, if not to own, this double-DVD consisting of three documentaries about the Russian master, with a total running time of 205 minutes.

The first film is Moscow Elegy, by another great Russian director, Alexander Sokurov, to whom Tarkovsky was a mentor. This is a very personal tribute, consisting of footage and photographs of Tarkovskyís life and clips from his films. Unfortunately, for no reason that I can see, Sokurov appears to have taped much of it from TV, because the visual quality is poor and much that should be in colour, including ironically some clips from Tempo di Viaggio in this same DVD set, is in black-and-white. I admire most of Sokurovís films that I have seen, but cannot understand why Moscow Elegy is put together the way it is. The material itself is of course interesting, but the presentation is most odd.

The second film is Chris Markerís One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevitch. Marker is an acclaimed French documentary maker (I particularly recall his remarkable Sans Soleil from the 1980s) and this film consists largely of Tarkovsky directing The Sacrifice, particularly the famous penultimate shot, lasting several minutes, of the burning house, the shot where the camera jammed at the first attempt so that the house had to be rebuilt. The babel of languages (Russian, English, Swedish, etc.) merely added to the confusion, but the director knew exactly what he wanted and through sheer single-minded intensity achieved what for me is one of the greatest masterpieces of cinema. Tarkovsky was already ill with lung cancer, and Markerís film also shows him doing the final edit of The Sacrifice from his hospital bed in Paris.

Finally, as mentioned above, there is Tempo di Viaggio, directed by Tarkovsky himself along with his Italian screenwriter (on Nostalghia) Tonino Guerra. This is clearly a carefully-worked-out production, in which Tarkovsky is seen visiting various possible locations in Italy for the filming of Nostalghia and being unimpressed by all of them, except for a particular room in a rundown hotel in a small village. Guerra asks Tarkovsky various questions (clearly pre-planned) ostensibly from students about his views on cinema, so that the Russian can hold forth about how the aspiring film-maker must allow him/herself to be controlled by his/her vocation.

Overall, some great material for the Tarkovsky buff, but itís a pity about the presentation of Moscow Elegy.

Alan Pavelin
Search this site or the web        powered by FreeFind
Site searchWeb search

   Home | News | Features
    Book Reviews | About Us