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Tony Grist

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Nostalgia [Apr. 20th, 2005|09:20 am]
Tony Grist

seraphimsigrist has got me watching Tarkovsky. It seems like a timely thing to be doing- what with that Ratzinger person being "elected " Pope.

Ratzinger belongs to the daytime of religion. Tarkovsky to the night. Ratzinger throws a sharp-edged shadow. Tarkovsky moves (in Bergman's words) "with confidence in the room of dreams". Ratzinger is a policeman, an  unthinking instrument of law. He has no passport to Tarkovsky's world.

I don't know exactly what is going on in Tarkovsky's Nostalgia. Ailz suggests that the protagonist is dead before the movie opens and what we're seeing are his post mortem adventures. Could be. Actually I don't think it matters.  We are in a realm beyond narrative logic- a world of images, of shewings. Birds fly in and out, feathers drift down- and I am reminded of two Biblical texts- the one about the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove and the one about the fall of the sparrow.

 "For I am persuaded that neither death ,nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, not things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, Our Lord."



[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-04-20 05:35 am (UTC)
I watched Bergman's--oh, what was that film about the priest and his mistress?--and wanted to open a vein by the time it ended.

It was beautifully filmed. The anguish of the priest! His dead eyes, looking into the camera while he spouted words that meant nothing to him!

It was so bleak. No hope for anyone. God.

As for Tarvosky and his floating feathers: I can get hooked on these "I-don't-know-WHAT'S-going-on" movies, because the art is enough sometimes enough if the filming is beautiful.

I once saw a cryptic Australian film, The Watcher, in which every scene was as luminous and beautifully framed as a painting, and the actors' heads would turn s-l-o-w-l-y to look in different directions. It was like a slow-motion dream in which nothing ever progressed. But I loved it! It was hypnotic.

I've got Netflix, so I'll try Tarvosky's feather-floating. I'm tired of anime, to be honest. (Wallace and Grommet are wonderful, thought, and NOT bleak.)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-04-20 08:11 am (UTC)
Winterlight- close to being my favourite film of all time.

But under all the bleakness, it's a beautiful love story. At least, that's what I think (though it took me several viewings to come to this conclusion.)

The thing is, he goes through with the Mass- and he does it because his woman is in the congregation. Everything has been stripped away, all the pretense, and finally there's the chance of new life.

Bergman said of the little, crippled verger- who acts as catalyst- that actually he's an angel.

Nostalgia is extraordinarily beautiful. Tarkovsky only made a handful of films, but they're all of them masterpieces.

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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-04-20 08:22 am (UTC)
I see! I hadn't made that connection.

I only thought how neurotic she was, to stay with him after he had been so cruel.

But it wasn't neurosis--or, even better--it didn't matter why she stayed, but that she did. That she forgave him (or didn't)--because she loved him.

And she was there at the end. I missed that, because one of the cats threw up or something--

I should have done a better job of watching.

I didn't see the hope at the end, although I did see the verger as a Messenger.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-04-20 08:53 am (UTC)
Winterlight is a film I watch over and over again. I think it has so many layers of meaning.

Bergman tells a story about how he was out driving with his father (a retired priest in the Swedish episcopal church) and they dropped into a country church for the morning service...

"When the summoning bell faded away over the plain, the pastor had still not appeared. A long silence ensued in heaven and on earth. Father shifted uneasily and kept muttering. A few minutes later came the sound of a rushing car on the slippery ground outside, a door slammed and the pastor came puffing down the aisle.
When he got to the altar rail, he turned round and looked over his congregation with red-rimmed eyes, a thin, long-haired man, his trim beard scarcely hiding his receding chin. He swung his arms like a skier and coughed, his hair curly on the crown of his head, his forehead turning red. 'I am sick' said the pastor. 'I've got a high temperature and have a chill.' He sought for sympathy in our eyes. 'I have permission to give you a short service; there will be no communion. I'll preach as best I can, then we'll sing a hymn and that will have to do. I'll just go into the sacristy and put on my cassock.' he bowed and for a few moments stood irresolutely as if waiting for applause or at least some sign of understanding, but when no-one reacted, he disappeared through a heavy door.

Father started rising from the pew. He was upset. 'I must speak to that creature. Let me pass.' He got out of the pew and limped into the sacristy, leaning heavily on his stick. a short and agitated conversation ensued.

A few minutes later, the churchwarden appeared. he smiled in embarrassment and explained that there would be a communion service. An older colleague would assist the pastor.

The introductory hymn was sung by the organist and the few churchgoers. At the end of the second verse, father came in, in white vestments and with his stick. When the hymn was over, he turned to us and spoke in his calm free voice: 'Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Glory be to thee, O Lord most high.'

Thus I was given the end of Winter Light and the codification of a rule I have always followed and was to follow from then on: irrespective of everything, you will hold your communion. It is important to the churchgoer, but even more important to you. we shall all see if it is important to God. If there is no other god than your hope as such, it is important to that god too."

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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-04-20 08:59 am (UTC)
Thank you-fascinating.

It wasn't bleak at all, the ending.

And I missed that entirely.

I've queded up Tarvosky, but can only get The Sacrifice through Netflix.

Thank you for clarifying Winterlight.

I find that it is unforgettable: scene after scene stays with me, even though I found it awfully hard to watch.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-04-20 09:12 am (UTC)
I haven't seen the Sacrifice- but I must.

In fact I'm going to order a copy right now. Then we can exchange notes.

The Sacrifice was filmed in Sweden, with Bergman's cinematographer and one of Bergman's favourite actors in the lead. I don't know whether B & T were friends, but they were certainly on the same wave-length.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-04-20 09:15 am (UTC)
Oh, good. I'll move mine up the queue.

(Shawn of the Dead is on its way today.)

Hooray for Netflix!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-04-20 09:50 am (UTC)
The order is placed.

I've also ordered Solaris- not the George Clooney version, but Tarkovsky's original.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-04-20 10:11 am (UTC)
I got it, too.


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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-04-20 05:57 am (UTC)
Sometimes when people talk about what you do, I realize how woefully ill-educated I am.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-04-20 08:13 am (UTC)
Check out Tarkovsky. He's amazing!
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[User Picture]From: four_thorns
2005-04-22 06:44 am (UTC)
tarkovsky is my favorite director of all time! you must see "the mirror", it's absolutely beautiful.

interesting thing about tarkovsky: he was meticulous nearly to the point of insane about setting up his shots and getting everything just the way he wanted- he would even spray-paint leaves on bushes if he didn't think their natural color was exactly how he wanted it.

also, he directed 10 films in russia before defecting to the west (after nostalgia)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-04-22 08:44 am (UTC)
I saw Mirror a long, long time ago. I don't think any film has ever baffled me so deeply.

But I've never forgotten it.

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