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Sundered

Nostalghia (1983)

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As pieces of imagery and as poetry I love it without reserve but I'm still not fully grasping the themes. I know that Tarkovsky is a very dense filmmaker and there are some scenes where the tone alone gives me feelings that could come together into the vaguest of overall impressions. Maybe a commentary would help, he sets up these settings that are so surreal and subtly confusing that they are practically paintings and then he places character and dialogue and context in there and it becomes just too much to take in. Add to this his penchant for completely switching gears (mood, setting, characters) and within twenty minutes, any framework I have for an analysis is almost completely destroyed. I know I shouldn't even be talking yet as Tarkovsky apparently takes a very long time to sink in but I can already tell this is one I'll have to see again before I can even begin to make sense of it. Again though, several of the sequences are unspeakably lovely. His style is extraordinary, I just wish at the moment that his substance was a wee bit easier to untangle.

Does anyone have any ideas as to what it all means?

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I'm afraid I'm pretty much a neophyte when it comes to Tarkovsky. THE SACRIFICE blew me away when I saw it, around the time it first came out. I saw ANDREI ROUBLEV last summer, and came away with very much the reaction you describe - I admired it, wasn't caught up in it the way some of my Tarkophile friends were, and was convinced it would require (and reward) several more viewings.

The next Tarkos I'm going to tackle are SOLARIS and STALKER. I have the sense (probably mistaken) that both might be slightly more accessible than, say, NOSTALGHIA or THE MIRROR.

Haven't seen much of Doug Cummings around the board this summer, but he'll have great things to say about this when next he drops in. And I think Russell Lucas may also be a fan?

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Wonderful film, Sundered. Don't despair about your reaction -- and, certainly, don't give up on Tarkovsky. His films can be difficult to understand, and our reactions can be difficult to express.

Tarkovsky discusses the audience/filmmaker interaction, and certain critical views of his work, here. And I'm sure Doug would point you here.

If I had to sum up Nostalghia in a few words, I would say, "It's about the longing for one's home." But that doesn't do the film justice in any way, does it? Your grappling with it is far preferable, I think. smile.gif

Edited by Christian

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This is my favorite Tarkovsky: for the candle walk, Eugenia's experience of the Virgin-worshipping nuns in the rural church, the Madonna del Parto, and the exquisite long shots moving through the brown environments.

Can anyone speak to the quality of the South Korean imported DVD? I imagine it's not very good, eh?

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Here is a good rundown of the various DVDs.

And yes, though this isn't my favorite Tarkovsky, the candlewalk is astonishing. Ranks right next to the Solaris driving scene and the Stalker rail scene as the holy Trinity of Tarkovsky movement scenes.

Edited by MLeary

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And yes, though this isn't my favorite Tarkovsky, the candlewalk is astonishing. Ranks right next to the Solarisdriving scene and the Stalker rail scene as the holy Trinity of Tarkovsky movement scenes.

You mean the 5 minute POV montage of Japanese roadways? I haven't seen the other two scenes mentioned, but I'm surprised by this one. It hasn't aged well at all; at the time, Japan's winding road systems probably did have a taste of the sci-fi, but now they fix the setting in our present, not the future. Plus, I was under the impression from watching DVD commentary that Tarkovsky made the scene so long mainly to justify the expense of going to Japan to film. I've heard it called mesmerizing, but... it was not a high point of the film, for me.

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Here is a good rundown of the various DVDs.

And yes, though this isn't my favorite Tarkovsky, the candlewalk is astonishing. Ranks right next to the Solaris driving scene and the Stalker rail scene as the holy Trinity of Tarkovsky movement scenes.

I think you forgot to embed the link, thanks though.

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Link fixed.

You mean the 5 minute POV montage of Japanese roadways? I haven't seen the other two scenes mentioned, but I'm surprised by this one. It hasn't aged well at all; at the time, Japan's winding road systems probably did have a taste of the sci-fi, but now they fix the setting in our present, not the future. Plus, I was under the impression from watching DVD commentary that Tarkovsky made the scene so long mainly to justify the expense of going to Japan to film. I've heard it called mesmerizing, but... it was not a high point of the film, for me.

I have always thought that thought that Tarkovsky did have to fight the system to get funding to shoot in Japan, as it was the right set for the context of the film, and it was allowed to be included in the final cut because they had already spent so much cash on it. For Tarkovsky, this was serendipitous, because it was such an important passage in the structure of the film. He kind of gamed the system to get it in.

And without this passage, the film would lose a lot of its momentum in the way it attempts to define the relationship of earth and space as stand-ins for the more spiritual concepts of earth and heaven. In the liner notes to Sufjan Steven's BQE album, he describes urban streets, tunnels, and bridges as birth canals, umbilical cords, passages linked to birth and rebirth. This is a great description of Tarkovksy's driving scene in Solaris, as he is moving through a channel to a point of rebirth and ascent. This is the central transition of the film, and without the driving interlude, there would be no structural device in the film that would allow us the time and space to realize what is happening. It is an ascension.

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Tonino Guerra, who collaborated on the Nostalghia screenplay with Tarkovsky, has died. He was 92 years old.

He also wrote Blow-Up and Amarcord, among many other movies.

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Can I say that this film has had some orthographic impact on me? Whenever I need to spell "nostalgia," my finger almost always makes an impulsive flinch towards the accursed "h," sometimes pressing it, sometimes not. And then my thoughts frequently spill away from their previous subject and back to the film.

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I've seen all of Tarkovsky's feature films save for The Sacrifice in the past year, and while I refuse to pick a favorite - I do see Ivan's Childhood as just slightly below the others, but this is because I felt it was a transition for Tarkovsky between his work at VGIK and the true voice he would find just after the Khrushchev Thaw froze over - Nostalghia pops in my head far too often for me to consider it 'minor', as its relatively low Rotten Tomatoes score and 3-star rating on AllMovie would suggest. Maybe it's because I'm seventeen and can resonate in a way with the protagonist's meditative existential despair as a result. Maybe it's his unforgettable points about art. Maybe it's that great line from Eugenia I never quote because it would make the film sound far different from what it is - "You're the kind I'd sleep with rather than explain why I don't feel like it." Maybe it's Erland Josephson. Maybe it's that atmosphere that's so bleak that someone in the background could break into "Springtime For Hitler" and it would still feel like Cries and Whispers.

Wish I knew. God bless Tarkovsky.

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I can understand a view that Ivan's Childhood is slightly below the others, but it still stands tall in world cinema.  It's also possibly the best "intro" film to Tarkovsky's work as its the closest one would find to the Hollywood cinema that most of us are more used to.  

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I've seen all of Tarkovsky's films (even The Steamroller and the Violin, which he made in film school), and Nostalghia is one I have the hardest time with. It's no more abstract than some of his other films, but I can never quite get a handle on what it's saying.

 

Kinch, you should check out The Sacrifice if you liked Josephson in Nostalghia, since he's the star of both. His prayer scene in The Sacrifice is one of my favorite Tarkovsky moments.

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I can understand a view that Ivan's Childhood is slightly below the others, but it still stands tall in world cinema.  It's also possibly the best "intro" film to Tarkovsky's work as its the closest one would find to the Hollywood cinema that most of us are more used to.  

Oh, I didn't mean to imply that Ivan's Childhood wasn't a great film. For example, on my IMDb profile, I rated it as a '10' just like all the other Tarkovsky I have seen - except Steamroller and the Violin, which I refuse to rate since I'd feel kind of uncomfortable assigning any sort of merit-based score (which I'm not the biggest fan of anyway) to a work that's embryonic Tarkovsky in the grand scheme of things.

 

 

I've seen all of Tarkovsky's films (even The Steamroller and the Violin, which he made in film school), and Nostalghia is one I have the hardest time with. It's no more abstract than some of his other films, but I can never quite get a handle on what it's saying.

 

Kinch, you should check out The Sacrifice if you liked Josephson in Nostalghia, since he's the star of both. His prayer scene in The Sacrifice is one of my favorite Tarkovsky moments.

I fully intend to watch The Sacrifice someday, but it'll be tough to do so. (Warning: I am giving personal reasons, so this part of the post is not quite about Nostalghia. Please don't eat me.)

See, first of all, I'm a foster child who can't always afford to shell out money for DVDs. It may be near Christmas time, but nobody in my family, foster or biological, shares my interests in film, and I've learned not to trust them with specific gifts. I'm not trying to sound cynical, but it was frustrating when in my pre-cinephillic days in 5th grade I asked for Enter the Dragon and got a couple bottom-tier Jackie Chan vehicles (Even though I'm no longer big on the genre, I can admit that there's a quality drop there, and I hope I won't get defenestrated out of here for even uttering such titles), or in a non-filmic example, when I specifically asked for any Rush album besides a certain two and profusely stated I did not want a compilation but got one anyway.

Second of all, I'm alone in my tastes. A great example: I once held a vendetta of sorts against Sergio Leone because my foster father (who I lost to lung cancer in January) couldn't stand subtitles, and I KNEW he would have absolutely loved Kurosawa if he had been able to give him a chance, and I knew Leone's Yojimbo rehash, FIstful, was inferior due to relying on Eastwood rather than excelling on all cylinders like the original. (Leone did redeem himself with TGTBATU, OUATITW, and OUATIA, however.)

Back to Tarkovsky. I wanted to see Nostalghia when a print of it was shown at the Portland Art Museum, but I had nobody who would want to take me, much less watch this Italian/Russian film by a dead guy that a kid in their life with Asperger's always raves about. And branching out my film knowledge is something that I cannot help, but at the same time, I feel very lonely and guilty when I indulge in what I love. Let's just say that every time I put something by Tarkovsky, Bergman, Bresson, Godard, Herzog, Fassbinder, etc. into my DVD player, my bloodline has a collective 'game over' screen.

There's also a bit of a religious unease I have with it, since, long story short, I'm scared that someone believes art is disrespectful to God. I'm actually not of the faith, but I joined this site largely out of a desire to see if there's still more to it than juvenilized, self-centered, and emotionally driven youths who go to summer camps I could never afford. Let me put it this way; if a church with cute girls in my age group (high school) screened Andrei Rublev, and they got into it, my faith in humanity itself would be restored, much like Andrei's, and I would tear up and, instead of saying "You'll cast bells, I'll paint icons", I would say "You'll let me in, I'll still be allowed to read Kierkegaard and all those others that might as well be heretics by how they are ignored in Americanized Christianity".

Sorry for spilling my guts on the page. Ban me if necessary. Again, I'm very sorry.

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While there are things that can get people banned from this forum, honesty isn't one of them. The "Faith in Crisis" thread is an example of that.

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^ Thanks. I think I need to get something off my chest. I'll read around that thread, though, because I'm still hesitant to take honesty for granted as a vindicator of posts. You know, different corners of the forum, different administrators...

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Kinch.  I got what you ment by Ivan's Childhood.  :)

 

Also.  If it makes you feel any better, several years ago I held a presentation one Sunday at a small evangelical church on film.  At the time I screened segments from various films.  A clip from Andrei Rublev was one of them.  A girl approached me afterwards to ask about the film because she was a cinematographer and thought the clip was incredible.  She was older than highschool but she was cute enough.    ;)

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Also.  If it makes you feel any better, several years ago I held a presentation one Sunday at a small evangelical church on film.  At the time I screened segments from various films.  A clip from Andrei Rublev was one of them.  A girl approached me afterwards to ask about the film because she was a cinematographer and thought the clip was incredible.  She was older than highschool but she was cute enough.    wink.png

......................WOW.

If I was able to find any lady in, say, college that was into Tarkovsky, or got into him - I can totally see myself holding little art-house film festivals with friends (since I already do it with my teddy bear, Stewie Daedalus cool.png ) - it would be all I could do not to fumble and ask, "Are...are you an angel?"

 

Also, I was getting a bento in the cafeteria for lunch a couple weeks back and one of the students serving them that I'd never before seen around bore an absolutely UNCANNY resemblance to Natalya Bondarchuk in Solaris. I damn near got Kelvin's fever right then and there.

blowup.gif

Edited by Kinch

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Kinch.  I got what you ment by Ivan's Childhood.  smile.png

 

Also, though I know it was a much different type of film, I think Ivan's Childhood was beat in the young-Soviet-boy-tragically-losing-a-lot-more-than-his-innocence (pardon the jab at Platoon) genre by Come and See. If I ever hear anyone dismiss that as Soviet propaganda when in my presence, it'll be hard not to punch their lights out. And I'm not a violent person, so you can see how much that film affected (read: scarred) me.

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Oh, and I should have mentioned that I just ordered a DVD from Amazon. And I got it about ten minutes ago:

960092_357930494351434_922506390_n.jpg

 

YAY!

Edited by Kinch

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Kinch.  That looks like the same one I have.

 

 

Maybe you should hold little art house film festivals for friends.  If there are no cute girls that like Tarkovsky then maybe you can do your part to enlighten them.   :)  You might be surprised who might find it fascinating.

 

 

FWIW.  In case your interested I uploaded those clips I had mentioned to my dropbox.  You can look at it here.  It was several years ago that I had made this up.  So please excuse any errors and such.  :)

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FWIW.  In case your interested I uploaded those clips I had mentioned to my dropbox.  You can look at it here.  It was several years ago that I had made this up.  So please excuse any errors and such.  smile.png

 

I watched that first little bit. The Fly works surprisingly well in monochrome. :) If that was intentional, good eye!

 

Also, speaking of The Film In Question, I found it downright fascinating that this, of all Tarkovsky's films, made it onto Paul Schrader's personal film canon that I saw once.

Edited by Kinch

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It was monochrome because I was using a free program to bring clips off of a DVD and it wouldn't output in colour.  But yeah, it did turn out well that way.

Edited by Attica

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Overrated. RUBLEV, IVAN, STALKER and THE SACRIFICE are all vastly superior. 

 

I respectfully disagree, because while I love those films too (though I haven't yet seen Sacrifice), something keeps me coming back here. I touched in an earlier post on how I can't seem to articulate just what compels me (unlike the others, which I'm a little more sure of myself on), but it's just too fascinating for me to ignore.

And it's interesting to hear 'overrated' - Nostalghia is the most obscure of his features, at least from all the press and data I've seen. I'm not saying you're incorrect, though. I respect your opinion.

Edited by Kinch

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