Maker has been directing documentaries for over 50 years now,
and One Day In The Life Of Andrei Arsenevich is his latest
masterwork. The film offers a poetic eulogy to his friend, Russian
director, Andrei Tarkovsky. Tarkovsky is internationally known
for films such as The Mirror, Solaris, and Stalker,
and the viewer meets him in the mid ‘80s as he shoots and edits
his last film, The Sacrifice.
the film begins the viewer meets a dying Tarkovsky, reunited
with his family after five years in exile. It appears, at first,
that this will be a film about their reunion, but it slowly
settles into a mediation on the themes and images of Tarkovsky
films. The interlocking of his ideas and obsessions, set beside
the stark imagery of his films, slowly reveal the inner core
of the artist.
was a demanding director. Early in the film there is wonderful
footage of Tarkovsky working tirelessly and obsessively to complete
a central scene on The Sacrifice. The complicated scene
includes a number of characters, a great deal of movement, and
the merging of the four elements (a unifying component of his
films). The scene had been tried once and everything had gone
wrong. This will be the last chance. Through the intensity of
the moment, Tarkovsky’s method of working, his perfectionism,
comes completely into focus. He oversees each shot, even though
he is working with the very able cinematographer, Sven Nykvist.
footage from Tarkovsky’s films has a lovely starkness that may
remind many of Nykvist and Ingmar Bergman’s careful photography.
Certain themes return and repeat themselves. The elements are
both sensual and mystical, individuals confront their identities
in mirrors or paintings, and the mysterious forces—the ocean
in Solaris and the Zone in Stalker—present an
unknowable reality. The footage and themes are woven together
by a trim, poetic narration, delivered (in the English version)
by Alexandra Stewart.
Day In The Life Of Andrei Arsenevich is a moving tribute
to a friend and will appeal strongly to those who love Tarkovsky’s
films. It should not, however, be limited to his admirers. This
film has a great deal to say about the relationship between
artists and their obsessions, and about the methods artists
use to realize their art. This thoughtful film is also absorbing,
drawing the viewer into Tarkovsky’s worldview. It is probable
that many, upon viewing this film, will want to view—or re-view—his
films. Chris Maker has managed to direct yet another wonderful
film while simultaneously offering a poignant analysis of another
filmmaker. This is impressive filmmaking.
D. Lankford, Jr.
Marc André Batigne—Cinematographer
Richard Delmonte—Executive Producer