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Nostalghia[1] (UK: Nostalgia) is a 1983 Soviet-Italian film, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, and starring Oleg Yankovsky, Domiziana Giordano, and Erland Josephson. Tarkovsky co-wrote the screenplay with Tonino Guerra.[2]

Nostalghia
Ностальгия
Nostalghia (1983 film).jpg
DVD Cover
Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
Written by Tonino Guerra
Andrei Tarkovsky
Starring Oleg Yankovsky
Erland Josephson
Domiziana Giordano
Delia Boccardo
Cinematography Giuseppe Lanci
Edited by
  • Erminia Marani
  • Amedeo Salfa
Production
company
Distributed by
  • Gaumont Italia (Italy)
  • Gaumont (France)
  • Grange Communications, Inc. (United States)
Release date
  • May 1983 (1983-05) (France)
Running time
125 minutes
Country Soviet Union
Italy
Language Russian
Italian
Budget £500,000

The film depicts a Russian writer, Andrei Gorchakov (Oleg Yankovsky) who comes to Italy for the first time to carry out research about a fellow countryman of his, an 18th-century composer of whom over two centuries, all traces have been lost. During his stay he is struck with nostalgia for his homeland, longing for an inner home, a sense of belonging, and a clash between his personal vision of the world, and the real conditions. Semi-autobiographical to Tarkovsky's own experiences visiting Italy, and the complex, profound form of nostalgia which he believes is unique to Russians when traveling abroad, comparing it to a disease, "an illness that drains away the strength of the soul, the capacity to work, the pleasure of living", but also, "a profound compassion that binds us not so much with our own privation, our longing, our separation, but rather with the suffering of others, a passionate empathy."[3][4]

The film touches upon themes of nostalgia, longing, loneliness, the untranslatability of art and culture, the importance and necessity of communication and the failure and barrier to do so.[3]

The film received nine total votes in the 2012 Sight & Sound polls of the greatest films ever made.[5]

Contents

PlotEdit

The Russian writer Andrei Gorchakov (Oleg Yankovsky) travels to Italy to research the life of 18th-century Russian composer Pavel Sosnovsky, who lived there and committed suicide after his return to Russia.[6] He and his comely interpreter Eugenia travel to a convent in the Tuscan countryside, to look at frescoes by Piero della Francesca. Andrei decides at the last minute that he does not want to enter.

Back at their hotel Andrei feels displaced and longs to go back to Russia, but unnamed circumstances seem to get in the way. Eugenia is smitten with Andrei and is offended that he will not sleep with her, claiming that she has a better boyfriend waiting for her.

Andrei meets and befriends a strange man named Domenico (Erland Josephson), who is famous in the village for trying to cross through the waters of a mineral pool with a lit candle. He claims that when finally achieving it, he will save the world. They both share a feeling of alienation from their surroundings. Andrei later learns that Domenico used to live in a lunatic asylum until the post-fascistic state closed them and now lives in the street. He also learns that Domenico had a family and was obsessed in keeping them inside his house in order to save them from the end of the world, until they were freed by the local police after seven years. Before leaving, Domenico gives Andrei his candle and asks him if he will cross the waters for him with the flame.

During a dream-like sequence, Andrei sees himself as Domenico and has visions of his wife, Eugenia and the Madonna as being all one and the same. Andrei seems to cut his research short and plans to leave for Russia, until he gets a call from Eugenia, who wishes to say goodbye and tell him that she met Domenico in Rome by chance and that he asked if Andrei has walked across the pool himself as he promised. Andrei says he has, although that is not true. Eugenia is with her boyfriend, but he seems uninterested in her and appears to be involved in dubious business affairs. Later, Domenico delivers a speech in the city about the need of mankind of being true brothers and sisters and to return to a simpler way of life. Finally, he plays the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth and immolates himself. Meanwhile, Andrei returns to the mineral pool to fulfill his promise, only to find that the pool has been drained. He enters the empty pool and repeatedly attempts to walk from one end to the other without letting the candle extinguish. As he finally achieves his goal, he collapses.

CastEdit

ProductionEdit

This was Andrei Tarkovsky's first film directed outside of the U.S.S.R. It was to be filmed in Italy with the support of Mosfilm, with most of the dialogue in Italian. The film was in pre-production as far back as 1980. Initially the film was titled Viaggio in Italia (Voyage to Italy), but since there was already the film Journey to Italy (1954) by Roberto Rossellini, starring Ingrid Bergman, that already bore that name, they searched for something else, eventually deciding upon Nostalghia. When Mosfilm support was withdrawn, Tarkovsky used part of the budget provided by Italian State Television and French film company Gaumont to complete the film in Italy and cut some Russian scenes from the script, while recreating Russian locations for other scenes in Italy. Luciano Tovoli was considered for director of photography, although ultimately Giuseppe Lanci shot the film, though Tovoli would take that role in Tarkovsky’s 1982 documentary Tempo di Viaggio, or Voyage in Time.[3]

Donatella Baglivo filmed a ninety minute documentary on the making of the film titled Andrei Tarkovsky in Nostalghia (1984), providing a fascinating glimpse into the making of the film, including interviews with cast and crew.[7]

CastingEdit

Anatoly Solonitsyn was initially cast as Andrei Gorchakov, but died from cancer in 1982, forcing Tarkovsky to seek a new protagonist, eventually deciding upon Oleg Yankovsky who had appeared in his previous film The Mirror.[3]

LocationsEdit

Several scenes of the film were set in the countryside of Tuscany and northern Lazio; as the Abbey of San Galgano, the spas of Bagno Vignoni, the Orcia Valley, in the Province of Siena, the mysterious crypt of Abbadia San Salvatore on the Mount Amiata and the drowned church of Santa Maria in San Vittorino of Cittaducale, in the Province of Rieti.[8]

StyleEdit

Similarly to Tarkovsky's previous films, Nostalghia utilizes long takes, dream sequences, and minimal story. Of his use of dream sequences, to the question asked by Gian Luigi Rondi: “A realism of dream, like that of Mirror? Tarkovsky answered: “There isn’t “realism” on the one hand, and on the other hand (in contrast, in contradiction) “dreams.” We spend a third of our life asleep (and thus dreaming): what is there that is more real than dreams?”[9]

Tarkovsky's goal in Nostalghia, in terms of style, was to portray the soul, the memory, of Italy, of which it felt to him being there. Referring to his previous film Stalker to better explain, he describes the Zone as: "which is and is not, it is reality and, at the same time, it's a place of the soul, of memory. In the film when you see it, it is a forest, a river. That's all. But the air that circulates, the light, the rhythms, the perspectives, without distorting anything, make you feel it as an "other" place, with various dimensions, always real and, at the same time, different." When he visited Italy to begin studying the project of Nostalghia with Tonino Guerra, as they visited cities Tonino would show him Renaissance architecture, art, monuments, and he admired them, and would take notes, but what struck him the most was the sky, the blue sky, black sky, with clouds, with the sun, at dawn, at noon, in the evening. A sky, he said, is always simply just that, but a change in the hour of the day, the wind, climate, can have it speak to you in a different way, with love, violence, longing, fear, etc. Cinema, he said, can give these "ways" back to you and that it must, with courage, and honest, always starting from the real.[9]

MusicEdit

The film features music by Ludwig van Beethoven and Giuseppe Verdi (Requiem), as well as Russian folk songs. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is featured both during Andrei's visit at Domenico's home, and during his demonstration in Rome.

ReceptionEdit

Vincent Canby of The New York Times said that Tarkovsky "may well be a film poet but he's a film poet with a tiny vocabulary. [...] Nothing happens."[10] Dave Kehr was mildly positive, considering it to be "packed with imagery that seems at once hopelessly obscure and crushingly obvious" while also arguing that the work "does succeed in inducing some kind of trance."[11] The film won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, the prize for best director and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival.[12] Tarkovsky also shared a special prize called Grand Prix du cinéma de creation with Robert Bresson. Soviet authorities prevented the film from winning the Palme d'Or,[13] a fact that hardened Tarkovsky's resolve to never work in the Soviet Union again.

It is today one of Tarkovsky's lesser-known works. In 2010, scholar Thomas Redwood wrote that "critics on the whole have tended to ignore the film. Relatively little has been written about Nostalghia and even less has been understood of it."[14] Not without its admirers, the film holds an 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes[15] and received nine total votes in the 2012 Sight & Sound polls of the greatest films ever made.[5]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Nostalghia is an Italian transcription of the Russian word Ностальгия [nəstɐlʲˈɡʲijə], rather than the Italian nostalgia [nostalˈdʒiːa].
  2. ^ At one point, Domenico questions mathematics, displaying that "1+1≠2" with two drops of olive oil. This is a reference to one of Guerra's collaborations with Michelangelo Antonioni, Red Desert.
  3. ^ a b c d "[ Nostalghia.com | The Topics :: Tarkovsky talks to Gian Luigi Rondi, 1980 ]". www.nostalghia.com. Retrieved 2018-07-11. 
  4. ^ "[ Nostalghia.com | The Topics :: Tarkovsky interviewed by Natalia Aspesi at Cannes, 1983 ]". www.nostalghia.com. Retrieved 2018-07-11. 
  5. ^ a b "Votes for NOSTALGHIA (1983)". British Film Institute. Retrieved January 17, 2017. 
  6. ^ Sosnovsky is modeled on Ukrainian composer Maksym Berezovsky.
  7. ^ Charles M (2014-09-21), Andreij Tarkovskij in Nostalghia Donatella Baglivo, 1984, retrieved 2018-07-11 
  8. ^ Filming locations of Nostalghia at the Internet Movie Database
  9. ^ a b "Talking with Andrei Tarkovsky". A-BitterSweet-Life. Retrieved 2018-07-11. 
  10. ^ Canby, Vincent (October 5, 1983). "'Nostalghia,' In Italian". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2017. 
  11. ^ Kehr, Dave. "Nostalghia". Chicago Reader. Retrieved January 17, 2017. 
  12. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Nostalghia". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  13. ^ Wagstaff, Peter (2004). Border crossings: mapping identities in modern Europe. Peter Lang. p. 169. ISBN 978-3-03910-279-2. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  14. ^ Redwood, Thomas (2010). Andrei Tarkovsky's Poetics of Cinema. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 161. ISBN 144382240X. 
  15. ^ "Nostalghia (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 17, 2017. 

External linksEdit