Friday, May 09, 2008

Nostalghia - Ностальгия (Nostalgia)

Today I had to see a great outstanding film and I chose to see Andrei Tarkovsky Nostalghia. I never expected to see such a wonderful masterpiece and one of Tarkovsky most impressive films because one exceptional thing: the use of light. I was absolutely mesmerized, breathless and totally immersed into the most incredible succession of light changes that I have ever seen. This is a true masterpiece in every sense of art forms like photography, paintings and moving pictures.

Since the use of light was what most captivated me I did a little research and found some extraordinary information that I reproduce here to record it forever and to remind me that as according to what I read, I just had the experience of many others when after seeing this film they decided to become filmmakers. Yes, that’s exactly how I feel and even if I never act upon this feeling (or maybe I should…) this has been one of my most glorious experiences while watching a film.

"Andrei used to tell me that cinema uses time like a narrative element, while the photography normally remains constant for the duration of a sequence. It is precisely time that the ‘dynamic photography’ exploits to render a different consistency to the film. An example is the atmospheric conditions within nature: if during a cloudy day the sun comes out at a certain moment this will modify the condition of the light. In an interior space if someone enters a dark room and turns on the light this will change the condition of the light. However, this is all tied to precise actions. This discourse is amplified in Nostalghia, where in addition to variations in natural light were added variations which correspond to emotional motivation rather than any sense of logic.

During the shooting phase we used a transport mechanism posted in front the lights -a series of metal sheets hung on a frame- to vary the light intensity without modifying the color temperature. While in the postproduction there was a much more marked technical intervention because the film was printed with a system called ENR at Roma Technicolor laboratory. With the ENR process I was able to desaturate the colors to the maximum and augment the contrast in a scene, even if this restricted me to print on color positive even the sequences shot in black and white."
Guiseppe Lanci: The Shape of Light. To read the complete interview in Italian go here.

This Tarkovsky movie is not only filmed in Italy but is also in Italian which makes it another very interesting element as it is exceptional to see Tarkovsky and understand everything it says in its original language; you know what I mean as always you will lose many things in translation.

The movie tells a very cerebral story about longing and spiritual hunger and does it with the most exceptional neorealist style, similar to other great Italian directors; has an incredible slow pace that allows you to see everything so you will easily connect the dots of all the moving around with time and stories. Also incredibly good and useful is the use of black and white for some stories and time, as well as the use of color for other stories and current time.

Many long takes that will mesmerize you, especially the long take with the lead carrying the candle, this has been called one of the most captivating ever put on film and it truly is impressive how you’ll follow and follow him doing his amazing walk. The cinematography is beautiful with dripping water, unsettling mists and dew seeping through the eternally damp walls. Yes, water and fire –the reigning elements in Tarkovsky world- are continuously present here.

The film was in competition for the Golden Palm at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival where Tarkovsky won the Grand Prix du Cinéma de Creation, the FIPRESCI Prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. Absolutely not for all audiences you have to really enjoy serious cinema.

Today more than ever before I’m convinced that Tarkovsky is unique and my only regret is that he did so few movies, but this masterpiece –that he dedicated to his mother- tells a story that perhaps is related to his own life in exile as there are many situations that speak so clearly about what you feel when your not living in your homeland and those feelings can eventually kill you at an early stage of your life.

Cannot say that this is the Tarkovsky film I like the most, as all his films are excellent, but this one really touched me in many ways. Absolutely a must be seen Tarkovsky oeuvre.


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