Andrei Tarkovsky, USSR/Italy, 1983, 120 minutes

The first film of Tarkovsky to be made outside USSR - due to the director's self-exile - was followed by The Sacrifice which marked the end of his contribution to cinema. The legacy of Tarkovsky's spirit is well engraved on films such as this one which tackle the eternal quest for man's release from the gloomy reality of the mundane, given through the idiosyncratic angle of a Christian but ultimately pessimistic intellectual.

A Russian academic (Jankovsky) visits Italy as part of his research on the life and work of a composer who has commited suicide. He engages in an estranged relationship with his translator (Giordano), and eventually shares his existential agonies with a solitary person (Josephson) labelled as mad by the community.

Tarkovsky follows here the Bergmanesque line of psychodrama as his main character, profoundly influenced by these two encounters, is led towards the ultimate struggle for individual catharsis.

The dark, permanently wet setting, reminiscent of Stalker and The Mirror, supplants the typical Tarkovsky reticence with some unique metaphysical allusions. The slow-moving camerawork may rend some scenes infuriating but the mystic beauty which emanates from the film - sequences like the one where the madman is burned in a square under the sounds of Beethoven's ninth symphony - gives Nostalgia an awe-inspiring, even disturbing vision of man's struggle for true faith.

Review by Spiros Gangas
Taken from EUFS Programme 1992-93