A dying man in his forties remembers his past. His childhood, his mother, the war, personal moments and things that tell of the recent history of all the Russian nation.A dying man in his forties remembers his past. His childhood, his mother, the war, personal moments and things that tell of the recent history of all the Russian nation.A dying man in his forties remembers his past. His childhood, his mother, the war, personal moments and things that tell of the recent history of all the Russian nation.
Many films allow one immediate response; you know while watching how effective it is and at the end are geared for talking or writing about what you have just seen.
Others, you need to spend time with. This -- I am guessing here -- is because the truly great so lead our imagination that we need to heal or grow after the experience and only then assess what has happened. Surely when you are in this film, you know something special is going on: there are some true transcendences of the eye; very dimensional, surprising. Just as you have established the field of vision and registered the one thing you expect to see, the camera moves in an unexpected manner to reveal either a completely extra or contradictory reality.
Those moments thrill, but confuse at the same time because in lesser hands, this would be an excuse for noodling about with the 'story' in a superficially artsy-fartsy manner. Only after some time can you evaluate how effectively this might have slipped between the sheets of your minds. It is a matter of some interest to me how this happens when it does. Is it a matter of the artist knowing us better than we do ourselves and slipping into our dreams unawares? Or is a matter of creating an attractive castle that we are drawn to and inhabit?
Generally, when an artist is called 'personal,' it is thought to be the latter. But in this case, I think most of what he has done is find that universal manner of overlapping and merging that underlies the visual memory of us all. What confuses is the Soviet environment: the intensely uncoordinated industrial environment and the once fine but now dilapidated urban residences. They transport us to a different place: the unfamiliar described in a familiar way.
Surely this is not what he intended: he didn't make this for a comfortable American/European. And if not made just for himself it was for people who shared the same world. So at least as far as the content, we are attracted to an unfamiliar castle. But so far as the 'personal' form, I think he has found something strangely cosmic. This may be the best film (with Rublev) of one of the three most important filmmakers in history.
Ted's Evaluation -- 4 of 4: Every visually literate person should experience this.
- Sep 3, 2002