Thursday, October 13, 2011

NOSTALGHIA (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1983, Italy)

The mathematics of faith reduced to an irreducibly complex equation, where two men become of belief lost in the present tense, yearning for a past once but never was. Andrei Tarkovsky's melancholia is a spiritual melanoma, yearning for a Motherland that drove him away, a place of childhood memories that carry the weight of light and air, like the burden of guilt for loving an abusive parent...but unable to forgive.

Through a dream vapor darkly walks Andrei, a Russian poet who weaves a tapestry of elusive symbols, desperately trying to decipher his own subtext. Andrei's ailing heart beats to its own pentameter, a lonely rhythm without reason or rhyme. He has traveled to Italy to research a 18th century Russian composer, a man who gained his creative freedom in exile only to forfeit his life upon his return to Mother Russia. Here, Andrei meets a mad saint who sacrificed his family to save the world and discovers the volatile Molotov of religious conviction. He drifts casually from his dream world into a shared unreality, confounding identity and purpose, attempting to walk upon water while carrying the hallowed flame. His reflection preaches atop a stone mount, cursing the time when mankind went astray and the need to return to simple values of the past, to return to Eden and replace the forbidden fruit, then expunges himself in hellfire.

Tarkovsky's lens captures the human animal in the garden of earthy delights, surrounded by nature. Images of a statuesque Virgin birthing a flock of birds, discarded wine bottles swallowing drops of water, or a gentle fog crawling upon the landscape evoke memories of things past, where events needn't have happened to be true, a state where borders no longer exist with the convolutions of dreamscape. Water is a prime mover, a fluid thematic element, from a warm pool polluted by refuse hidden within its murky depths to a torrent that beats nervously upon the psyches of drowning men. Tarkovsky siphons Beethoven and Verdi through a nightmare machine, a grinding cacophony, a syncopation of sin where fallen angels dwell. And like Andrei, welcome the past imperfect and remain forever trapped by the stone walls of faith.

Final Grade: (A)

2 comments:

KimWilson said...

This is one of the few Tarkovsky films I haven't seen. He always made films that took a lot of concentration to watch. Ivan's Childhood, Andrei Rublev, Solaris, and The Mirror were all films that I really had to watch and think about--I didn't like all of them, but they were not your everyday, common films.

Alex DeLarge said...

I adore Tarkovsky but have to be in the right frame of mind to watch his films. I've written essays about every one of his films except STALKER because I'm waiting for a decent home video release.

I see Tarkovsky's ghost in the new Malick film TREE OF LIFE.