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Chris 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.

As 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.

Tarkovsky 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.

The 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.

One 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.

Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.


Chris Maker—Editor/Screenwriter/Director
Thierry Garrel—Prodcer
Claude Guisard—Producer
Marc André Batigne—Cinematographer
Alexandra Stewart—Narrator
Richard Delmonte—Executive Producer
Eduard Artemyev—Composer
Henry Purcell–Composer

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