Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USSR, 1975. Mosfilm. Screenplay by Andrei Tarkovsky, Aleksandr Misharin. Cinematography by Georgi Rerberg. Produced by Erik Waisberg. Music by Eduard Artemev. Production Design by Nikolay Dvigubskiy. Costume Design by Nelli Fomina. Film Editing by Lyudmila Feyginova.
This one is Andrei Tarkovsky for advanced students. A non-linear narrative structure, little explanation of context for many scenes and only the barest suggestion of concrete reality versus dream logic means that those being initiated into the director’s wondrous commitment to ephemeral artistry will be baffled and bored. It is, at its essence, the ruminations of an aging, dying poet, ironically based on Tarkovsky’s own father who in real life would go on to outlive his son. Margarita Terekhova does double duty as the poet’s mother in richly nostalgic scenes of the pre-war past as well playing his wife in post-war situations involving their divorce and their son. The object of the title suggests the placing of the haunting memories of yore against the harsh contemporary realities and seeing where they align. You might need to watch it more than once to really parse it all out, but the detail and beauty of Tarkovsky’s work is not something to only be enjoyed once anyway. The effect is spellbinding even when you don’t know what’s going on, and the feeling of letting it wash over you is a powerful one.