Nostalghia (1983) Movie Review: Pause, Take in the Marvel of Every Scene

Hey dreamers!

I am feeling very nervous about writing this blog. As firstly, Ron liked the last review on the movie ‘Slacker’ (If you have not checked it out yet, then please do) a lot. So now, I ended up raising the bar for the subsequent movie reviews. And secondly, because this movie ‘Nostalghia’ is not an easy movie to understand or review. Presently, I feel that I have taken up more than I can chew. Regardless of all my anxieties and apprehensions, I am going to try and review this movie to my best of capabilities.

Watch the trailer:

  • Release Date: 2 June 1983 (Italy)
  • Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
  • Cinematography: Giuseppe Lanci
  • Music director: Ludwig van Beethoven, Giuseppe Verdi
  • Languages: Russian and Italian
  • Oleg Yankovsky as Andrei Gorchakov
  • Erland Josephson as Domenico
  • Domiziana Giordano as Eugenia
  • Patrizia Terreno as Andrei’s Wife

For me, this movie is a mashup between performance art and a film, as every action of the characters in this movie is highly symbolic and presenting an idea/concept. I think, one could truly appreciate the beauty of this film only if they look closely. This movie has dual appearances; one, ‘acting’ for which the actor needs to perform wearing the skin of the character and the other, ‘symbolization’ of the character or what it represents. Now here, I feel tempted to go forward and explain what I mean by referring to two scenes from the movie. First one is of course, the infamous nine minutes long single shot where Andrei Gorkachov (a Russian man touring Italy in an intent to write a biography on Pavel Sosnovsky, a Russian composer who had lived in Italy for a while) walks from one end of the pool to another with a candle in his hand. The second one is when Domenico (a mad man) commits suicide in public. However, I will refrain myself from over-explaining as some things are best when experienced first-hand. Anyhow, the three main characters (Oleg Yankovsky playing Andrei Gorkachov, Domiziana Giordano playing Eugenia, and Erland Josephson playing Domenico) who share a significant time on screen, deliver a brilliant performance.

While reading the book, ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ by Virginia Woolf, I came across a narrative style where the inner conflicts of one character were portrayed by another character externally, but I never imagined that this concept could ever be expressed in any other art form, of course, other than books. Even if one could, I thought they would not be able to depict the essence of this style, but I was wrong. Further, I never expected this style of narrative could be used to express any other theme, other than, what was already expressed by Virginia Woolf in ‘Mrs. Dalloway’. Andrei Tarkovsky, the director, artfully utilized the character of Domenico to portray externally the internal conflicts faced by Andrei Gorchakov.

Another aspect that amazes me about this film is the way the director co-related two disparate themes- faith and homesickness. Usually, people associate the term ‘home’ with a land, concrete structures, and people, but they don’t associate it with one’s religious faith or political environment. In this movie, Andrei Gorchakov is shown to experience even those unusual associations that one has with one’s home along with the usual ones.

Andrei Tarkovsky throughout his life had a love and hate relationship with his country. Usually, the movies which he created in his short life-span were banned in his country (Russia), and this movie contains certain elements that express his hurt feelings and conflicts. It is highly vivid in Andrei Gorchakov’s response to Eugenia’s question, “How could one get to know one another?” Andrei Gorchakov replies, “by abolishing the frontier (between states).”

In this movie, Andrei Tarkovsky uses black and white to show dreamy and nostalgic sequences; whereas, he chooses dull colors to show the real-life sequence, thus translating the thematic vibe into this film through his cinematographic talents.

‘Nostalghia’ is one of those movies which is going to impact and change you in subtle ways by making those aspects conscious in your mind that usually remain subconscious. It was not when I was watching this film that it affected me, but after completing it, and further, while writing this review. It took me closer to the ground where my and Ron’s friendship grew. It took me closer to the grounds of the Shiv Mandir where we volunteered during Durga Puja. It redefined the term ‘home’ for me.

From my end, this movie is a must watch. If you are looking for a movie that has the power to change your perspective and the way you look at the world, then this movie is for you.

If you are still more curious and want to know about the director, Krzysztof Kieslowski, and Ron’s perspective on it, read his book Remember, Repeat, Inhabit.

Like this blog if you enjoyed it. And, after watching this movie, comment below how did this movie change the definition of ‘Home’ for you?

Till next time, enjoy your sweet home.

Writer: Deepika Bhaduri
About: Movie Anatomie

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