Nostalgia ★★★★

A brooding, soul-searching experience that I really, really dig but almost have no way of describing. It’s so hard to pin down. It’s immersive, hypnotic, and feels so much more figurative than real. Lots of ways to parse it.

A few pointers: It’s Tarkovsky’s first film after leaving Russia in 1982 to escape censorship. Naturally, it’s fueled with a sharp supply of nostalgia that feels like a filmmaker looking back and pining for a country he’s lost. 

It channels this unrequited longing for homeland into a spiritually spent poet, who travels to Italy on a biographic research trip. The whole thing soon evolves into this metaphysical pilgrimage on sickness, healing, and loss of cultural identity.

A pervasive sense of melancholy ensues as we watch the poet become profoundly more isolated from everything around him — his companion, family, country, even himself. He’s looking for Russia in this new alien landscape but stonewalled by his past.

The story in every way bleeds with brokenness and incompletion. It’s Tarkovsky’s savage reconciliation between love of country and love of newly found artistic freedom, which leads to madness. And madness and artistry in this story go hand in hand.

Even without the autobiographical footnotes, the story is so seductive, the visuals so poetically arresting, they draw you into an atmosphere that’s better felt than explained. It reaches for something deeply spiritual, and I think it succeeds.

Tarkovsky Ranked

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