Master and Nostalgia

Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalgia (1983) is one of those timeless pieces, classical in a moment of their birth. First movie of this director to be shot outside Russia and first dealing (at least, by the title) with the intense longing for the homeland. There are numerous interpretations of this picture, one of these most self-evident is that focusing on a possible autobiographical aspect (the protagonist – poet Gortczakov as Tarkovsky’s alter-ego), but one has to accept that artworks of this caliber do escape any explanation; I’ve read few critical evaluations and each of them gave a different and more or less acceptable set of concepts as a ‘reading-key’ for this movie. What’s striking, the author’s interpretation, expressed in a brilliant documentary made on ‘battlefield’ of Nostalgia, is yet another cup of tea. Tarkovsky speaks beautifully about the complexity of the human relationships he tried to portray, that is much easier to meet someone and to get to know him/her than to forget that particular person. That we are all in a nostalgic mood because of that – because of the impossibility – firstly – to meet in truth and secondly-to keep all those, whom we are fascinated with, for ourselves.

But for us, more mortals than him, it’s the visual power of his work that keeps us under a hypnotic spell for hours. And this Russian’s imaginary abilities and sense of beauty is stunning. The more breathtaking when one watches ‘the work in progress’ – how virtually from scratches, from mud and forgotten, ruined places, carrying and setting up that old-fashioned, clumsy equipment, how battling with people and objects, light and space this artist carves out the perfectness. And only those who tried to portray beauty – in poems, paintings, movies know how incredibly difficult it is – to capture the sense without killing the ambiguity, mystery and interest. But, it is not that difficult to reject it all… You are certainly not doomed to believe in a world by Tarkovsky – that hopelessly romantic, dreamy, melancholic sur-reality of empty Roman pools, lit candles, ruined churches and misty landscapes haunted by those poor, so intensely living souls… Just like when reading Kafka’s or looking at Chirico’s one has a forceful desire to leave, to escape the created world due to the unsettling feelings and thoughts it evokes – “Tarkovsky’s tension” (as I would call it) is a quite natural phenomenon and not for everyone to cope with successfully.

That tension arises due to a demand, which genuine art makes on an individual. It’s well pointed in our master’s view of it: “The purpose of art is to help man improve himself spiritually.” It’s not to be merely consumed or enjoyed, is not to be pleasing and evocative for its own sake. I find it quite a good lesson applicable to all sorts of artistic activities. And yet another quote – on the ethics (who, on Earth, speaks today about ethics in art!) of an artist: “too many artists take their work as a special position, given to them by destiny, and simply exploit their profession. That is, they live in one way but make movies about something else. And I’d like to tell directors, especially young ones, that they should be morally responsible for what they do while making their films.” Writers should be morally responsible for what they do while writing, painters should be morally responsible for what they do when painting… What else shall I add to that…

Fragment of A.Tarkovsky’s ‘Nostalgia’ has been uploaded to the Youtube service by “0EyeOfDawn0” – thank you. It’s only a ‘teaser’ promoting this great art and, hopefully, encouraging those, who haven’t met with the director’s work yet to do this. As with any other original material (not being my own property) I have no intention to go against any copyright law – anyone interested, please do respect the artist and buy (loan) a certified copy. Thank you. K.S.


About kasia

Born in Poland. Lives in Ireland, Cork. Visual artist. View all posts by kasia

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