1 February 2000 | Gary-161
All time favourite film
This is my favourite film and possibly the best film ever made. It's impossible to put into words what I feel about this beautiful poem. Certainly it is uniquely brilliant artistically and seems to be different every time you view it, the dynamics and emotions of the characters shifting hypnotically. It has the feel of a painting in a gallery and the photography is almost expressionist. It really has to be viewed at the cinema only.
There was a very clever ad campaign to this film stating it was the Russian 2001. So us ten year olds went to see it thinking we were going to see a special effects extravaganza, and instead we saw, what seemed as a child, interminable shots of lilly's and weeds. It went over our heads but I never forgot the score and its haunting melancholia. Apparently Tarkovsky had a bad time making this film and fell out with his cinematographer. Stanislav Lem also disliked the way Tarkovsky changed the book's theme of optimism in exploring space to one of scepticism in the film. Tarkovsky felt that finally what mattered was the theme of love, that is, doing moral good in the universe, love of family or country, or the place of one's birth. The beginning of one's journey which one always returns to in one's mind which was evocatively shown in the film's climax by the lake, surely one of the great movie moments ever and terribly moving. His ultimate concern was the question of a man's soul which he is unable to deal with while striving for technological betterment. Ultimately he hoped man would reach a stage where he would solely be able to explore his spirituality.
I think with all this polemic Tarkovsky missed the fact that this film works as a beautiful love story. If you could turn the clock back there would be no moral life. But in giving Kelvin a second chance to find a greater truth, Tarkovsky also allows us a rare glimpse of love's majesty before it is sullied. The scenes where Kelvin begs Khari's forgiveness and levitates in her arms are the film's great triumphs. His use of Bach is also unforgettable. Unfairly accused of being po-faced, there is also a lot of wise humour in this film if you care to look for it.
This film inexplicably does not appear on many, if any, all time great lists. It does have some Sci-Fi nonsense of the day about bombarding the ocean with radiation, whatever that's supposed to do, but does not prevent this film being one of the great masterpieces of cinema. Recently Time Out or Sight and Sound did a survey of the all time top 20 directors and Tarkovsky did not appear but Woody Allen did! There ain't no justice.