At the dawn of World War III, a man searches for a way to restore peace to the world and finds he must give something in return.At the dawn of World War III, a man searches for a way to restore peace to the world and finds he must give something in return.At the dawn of World War III, a man searches for a way to restore peace to the world and finds he must give something in return.
Whether one engages with a Tarkovsky film depends on whether you identify with whatever spiritual problem his character is wrestling with. Some people are more concerned with nuclear issues than others. Some may see the sacrifice made by Otto as an inspiring spiritual one against his own interests. Certainly Tarkovsky seemed enamoured of the concept of the holy fool, weak and perhaps misguided and foolish individuals who are disenfranchised but in their lowliness somehow admirable and insightful on some matters. Others of a more secular persuasion may see Otto's sacrifice as selfish (his family being affected) and merely the pointless actions of the benighted. I'm sitting on the fence. The final sequence, which for the reasons above had to be re-shot is sadly not one of Tarkovsky's best. He has this need not to edit for the audience and prefers scenes to run to their own inner dynamic. It didn't work for me.
Tarkovsky was dying of cancer during the making of this film and the watering of the withered tree is actually an older myth, ruminated upon in his extraordinary book 'Sculpting In Time'. It is about 'the truth' as he sees it and is a Christian one. Unfortunately, I don't think this film was all it could have been but I see why it means so much to many. In my opinion he was perhaps the greatest film maker of all time and we are unlikely to see his like again. He believed that the gift of friendship was the most natural and important one to give as it is the one most open to us all.
- Feb 21, 2000