This is the Andrei Tarkovsky production of the famous Pushkin/Mussorgsky opera, performed in 1990 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, conducted by Valery Gergiev.
[To avoid some confusion: Tarkovsky, who died in 1986, was the director of the opera production, not the man behind the camera for this performance. The original production was staged 1983 in London. Amazon lists both Tarkovsky and Gergiev as directors, IMDB lists Humphrey Burton.] Continue reading
Andrei Tarkovsky’s final Soviet feature is a metaphysical journey through an enigmatic postapocalyptic landscape, and a rarefied cinematic experience like no other. A hired guide—the Stalker—leads a writer and a professor into the heart of the Zone, the restricted site of a long-ago disaster, where the three men eventually zero in on the Room, a place rumored to fulfill one’s most deeply held desires. Adapting a science-fiction novel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Tarkovsky created an immersive world with a wealth of material detail and a sense of organic atmosphere. A religious allegory, a reflection of contemporaneous political anxieties, a meditation on film itself—Stalker envelops the viewer by opening up a multitude of possible meanings. Continue reading
One of the most frequent charges against science-fiction is that it replaces emotion with intellect. Its characters are people who live by and for the mind, and their personal relationships are likely to be stifled and awkward, That’s probably true enough of most s-f novels (although exceptions range from Fredric Brown’s “The Lights in the Sky are Stars” to a lot of the work by Theodore Sturgeon), but it’s even more true of science-fiction movies. Continue reading
The debut feature from the great Andrei Tarkovsky, Ivan’s Childhood is an evocative, poetic journey through the shadows and shards of one boy’s war-torn youth. Moving back and forth between the traumatic realities of WWII and the serene moments of family life before the conflict began, Tarkovsky’s film remains one of the most jarring and unforgettable depictions of the impact of violence on children in wartime. Continue reading
Twenty years ago, a meteorite fell to Earth, and decimated a provincial Russian town. Villagers traveled through this curious area, now known as The Zone, and disappeared. Stories purport that there is an inner chamber within The Zone called The Room that grants one’s deepest wish. Fearing the consequences from such an inscrutable resource, the army immediately secured the area with barbed wire and armed patrol. But the desperate and the suffering continue to make the treacherous journey, led by a disciplined, experienced stalker who can stealthily navigate through the constantly changing traps and pitfalls of The Zone. A successful Writer (Anatoli Solonitsyn), perhaps searching for inspiration or adventure, and a Scientist (Nikolai Grinko) searching for Truth, enlist the Stalker (Aleksandr Kaidanovsky) to guide them through The Zone. The Stalker has been trained by a renowned stalker named Porcupine, who, after an excursion with his brother into The Zone, returned alone and infinitely wealthy, only to commit suicide a week later. Soon, it is evident that reaching The Zone is not their greatest impediment, but the uncertainty over their deepest wish. As the men approach the threshold to The Room, their fear and trepidation for the materialization of their answered prayers leads to profound revelation and self-discovery. Continue reading
Presented as a tableaux of seven sections in black and white, with a final montage of Rublev’s painted icons in color, the film takes an unflinching gaze at medieval Russia during the first quarter of the 15th century, a period of Mongol-Tartar invasion and growing Christian influence.
Commissioned to paint the interior of the Vladimir cathedral, Andrei Rublev (Anatoli Solonitsyn) leaves the Andronnikov monastery with an entourage of monks and assistants, witnessing in his travels the degradations befalling his fellow Russians, including pillage, oppression from tyrants and Mongols, torture, rape, and plague. Faced with the brutalities of the world outside the religious enclave, Rublev’s faith is shaken, prompting him to question the uses or even possibility of art in a degraded world. After Mongols sack the city of Vladimir, burning the very cathedral that he has been commissioned to paint, Rublev takes a vow of silence and withdraws completely, removing himself to the hermetic confines of the monastery. Continue reading
Broadcast on BBC2 Arena, 13 March 1987. Contains interview footage with Tarkovsky as he discusses each of his seven major films. He also talks about his world-view and
his philosophy of filmmaking. The film also includes footage of a Tarkovsky lecture to
young film students in which he expresses his thoughts on modern cinema. Continue reading