Monday, May 3, 2010

NOSTALGHIA (Italian) (1983)

For me ‘Andrei Rublev’ is the great spiritual experience that I ever felt from the world of cinema and personally I regarded it as one of the greatest film ever made. Without comparing I must say that ‘Nostalghia' is a very personal Tarkovsky film which demands a great deal of patience and focused effort to fathom it quite deeply. It’s a kind of cinema which either you must watch and re-watch to explore its cerebral, aesthetic depth to comprehend it fully or discard it fully by leaving it in first fifteen minutes saying its not my cup of tea. Those who watch films for extraordinary plot, story telling, great characters, tight editing and other audience friendly technicalities of cinema please stay away from this; they will simply curse this review and the film.

On the surface ‘Nostalghia’ is a film about a Russian poet named Andrei came to visit the countryside of Italy along with a translator young girl named Eugenia to research the life of an 18th century Russian composer named Sosnovsky. Andrei is suffering from home sickness; missing his wife and children in Russia and its reason why he’s always seems lost in pervasive longing to go his motherland. Eugenia’s crush on him failed and so she left him in lurch. Andrei meets Domenico, whom the villagers considered as mad man who once tried to cross the pond with ignited candle. The rest is another cinematic journey which is like personal poetry very solitary, melancholic, surreal and self scrutinizing one culminating towards the enlightenment of soul and its redemption. It’s like reading visual metaphors of Donne’s metaphysical poetry.

Tarkovsky has achieved a commendable status for bringing some of the haunting and beautiful natural images of the Russian filmmaking. Like Bresson he was unique director and staunch believer in cinema as visual art than anything else where images rule the experience than vague words. Few other similarities I found in both of their cinema are the depth of naturally aesthetic cinema without being pretentious anywhere maintaining complete minimalist approach and the slow spiritual undercurrent running through the film heightened while reaching its climax. Most part of the film is shot under rain, heavy mist and fog. One has to watch it for the use of doors and windows of ruined buildings, they all seems like frames of abstract paintings.

Both Andrei and mad man Domenico shared a parallel personal quest to search the higher truths of life and in the climax Tarkovsky let us felt it quite clearly keeping both of their ends followed one by one. Here’s what my futile attempt to put it in words:
A madman is standing on a statue delivering speech about the higher truth of life. He is addressing to the ashamed saner men standing almost like live statues. Suddenly a man gave him a tin of fuel. The mad man takes it and pours it on himself. He ignited the lighter and set himself on blaze. People are still standing like statues witnessing free drama except one or two and a barking dog. What we witness is yet another crucifixation witnessed by the world with their preconceived sanity. Next we witness a brilliant uninterrupted shot of Andrei repeatedly trying to cross the pond with ignited candle in his hand...each time the flame extinguished by wind in the middle until... What a healing cinema!!!

Undoubtedly its makers and films like these which made cinema a higher motive and serving a purpose of visually powerful and stirring spiritual experience circumpassing all routine escapist entertainment.



Luv said...

Yes, Andrei Rublev was great, but I feel Tarkovsky refined his film-making style more n more with each of his films. Nostalghia, coming towards the very end is very very focused on what he wants to show. His own inevitable break from USSR is certainly reflected here and he almost predicts his own end, suffering and making Sacrifice.

Here is my take on the film, though back then I saw much less in the film than I do now :)

HIREN DAVE said...

Read your blogpost...short but sweet synopsis about film. Haven't watched his 'Ivan's childhood' and 'Sacrifice', both of them are long due for me. Will catch it soon.

and by the way i was just expecting your comment here from few days since the moment i posted it...thanks and keep sharing it.