Thursday, October 03, 2013

Tarkovsky's 'Nostalghia' Is What It Used to Be

It's been so long since I saw Andrei Tarkovsky's melancholic and hypnotic "Nostalghia", Edith Kramer was still in charge of programming for the Pacific Film Archive. In 2004, the PFA mounted a series about films set in or about ruins which included this Tarkovsky work and the print itself was sadly, yet aptly, almost a ruin.

Edith introduced the film with a wistful commentary about how during the test-run, she and the projectionist were aghast at the decrepit state of the print. Lots of missing frames, "green rain" marring sections, some footage badly faded and parts of the soundtrack popped. She decided to show the print believing it would not be further damaged, and to lament the state of film preservation especially for such an important director's work.

At the end of the film, we in the audience applauded, it seemed to bolster ourselves, our love of cinema and keeping the faith for film-watching in a theater alive and the preservation and exhibition of actual celluloid prints.

"Nostalghia" was Tarkovsky's first film made outside the Soviet Union and is about a depressed, drunken poet living in Italy and researching the life and suicide of an exiled Russian poet. Full of painterly beautiful images, enigmatic characters searching for personal meaning and fulfillment, and a nostalgic longing to return home to Russia, this masterpiece must be seen on a big screen.

Thanks to Kino Lorber, a new print of "Nostalghia" plays at the Yerba Buena Screening Room tonight and Saturday, October 5, at 7:30 pm and then on Sunday, October 6, at 2 pm. Click here for info on tickets.

Get your cineaste card renewed and catch one of these screenings.

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