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Nostalghia

July 22, 2007

Title: Nostalghia
Language: Italian/ Russian
Country: Italy/Russia
Year of Release: 1983
Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Actors: Oleg Yankovsky, Erland Josephson, Domiziana Giordano

“Nostalghia”, the name itself brings back thousand memories with it. And with a director like, Tarkovsky making a cinema out of this theme is bound to be compelling. He definitely is among the few directors in Cinema who have given it a new meaning through his vision and whole idea of including philosophy into Cinema. This was my first rendezvous with Tarkovsky’s style of cinema and also with themes that sometimes seem to be impossible to be shown on the silver screen. Something like, I have always wondered how someone can depict silence on screen without it looking out of place or how can someone make you think while watching a scene itself. But Tarkovsky does it with such grace! Perhaps, the situation in which he was in while filming “Nostalghia” also helped him in bringing out that degree of emotion…he was in exile…away from his country, Russia.

The story is about Andrei Gorèakov, a Russian writer who travels to Bologna, Italy to research the work of a Russian composer who lived there in 18th Century. He has Eugenia, as his companion who’s also a translator for him. One day while roaming around Bologna they happen to meet a person named Domenico, who’s said to be a lunatic. But, Andrei takes some interest in talking to Domenico and in the course of their discussion Andrei senses that he understands what Domenico is going through. Meanwhile, Eugenia is growing fond of Andrei but he doesn’t reciprocate her feelings…out of anger she returns to Rome to meet a man, whom she says is going to marry. Andrei before leaving to his own country meets Domenico where the latter requests him to finish one last task on his behalf…..To carry a lit candle across a dried outdoor pool. Then Andrei leaves the place and around the same time, Domenico goes to Rome and gives a speech to a group. At the end of it, he commits suicide. On the other hand, Andrei changes his mind at the last moment about leaving the country and goes back to Bologna to finish the task what Domenico had asked him to do.

One of the primary characteristics of the film is the use of “silence” to carry forward the story. At one point, I was growing so impatient that, it was as though, the silence in the film has transcended everything and filling up the unknown part of my brain which usually thinks! It’s such a demanding entity of the movie which makes it extremely difficult to sit through at a stretch. But after having the full movie and making an attempt to understand it (which I still can’t), I gave up. It was until, I met a friend who had watched this movie that I kind of understood from what point of view I should think about the movie. He told me, sometimes trying to understand a movie doesn’t make sense…it all about experiencing the emotion that’s being depicted! He was right….

There’s a sense of alienation which is evident from the use of such long gaps of silence, alienation from the family, as depicted in numerous scenes, alienation from one’s country and also alienation from one’s culture and oneself! The sound of water is there in almost every scene of the movie…it’s almost as if it is trying to convey something…something that life goes on irrespective of what you do…also Tarkovsky masterfully uses this sound of water to convey the mood of the scene…sometimes it’s slow..sometimes fast. Also, the philosophy in the movie is worth brooding upon. In one of the scenes it is said that….one drop of water plus another drop of water doesn’t make two drops of water, but a bigger drop!….and in another scene….a man should only smoke when he has nothing else to do…..such things just add a whole new perspective to cinema.

Another thing which the director often uses in his films are the unusually long shots to depict a scene. And the master of all this, the climax of the film where Andrei tries to cross the pool is an eight minute, forty five second long scene without any cuts!!!…just Unbelievable!!

A work of art blended with astounding emotional, philosophical touch; Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia is truly one of its kind. Don’t see the film…WATCH it!!….Don’t try to understand it, but EXPERIENCE it!!…it’s one of the unique films which you won’t forget for a long time! And if you manage to sit through the whole 2 hours of the film, trust me, you can listen to silence….[:)]

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Arun permalink
    July 22, 2007 9:46 pm

    i was calc ct without watching the movie, you know! 😛

  2. Ashok permalink
    July 23, 2007 4:23 pm

    and before I could post this one..hemanth does it!
    never-the-less…my review on Nostalgia shall fill your comments’ page soon [:)]

  3. prasanna venkatesh.b permalink
    September 17, 2007 3:52 am

    “I have always wondered how someone can depict silence on screen without it looking out of place”
    I have an answer but it might sound heretic, I saw this movie. You can do the above if you fill your movie with silence and make dialogues sound unusual!! Nevertheless a meditative movie maker, nice review!

  4. Hemanth permalink
    September 17, 2007 11:58 am

    @Prasanna…Thanks!…well, i do agree with you about the idea of depicting silence!…somehow more than the silence on screen it’s the impatience that there are no dialouges which accentuates that feeling!…[:)]

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