Moscow Elegy

Alexander Sokurov’s heartfelt video documentary (1987, 88 min.) about his mentor Andrei Tarkovsky, completed shortly after the latter’s death in exile. As far as I can tell, it’s called Moscow Elegy only because Tarkovsky spent many of his early years in Moscow; indeed, Sokurov’s customary fetishism of place extends to schools Tarkovsky attended, apartments and houses he lived in, and (climactically) a tree he once planted. Most of the footage concerns the making of Tarkovsky’s last two films, in Italy and Sweden, as well as his death in France, though there’s also a fair-sized chunk of him as a young actor in the 1963 Russian opus Ilyich Gates (which looks very much like Jacques Rivette’s first feature). Despite the blotchiness of some images and the seemingly disordered structure, this is a document (more than a documentary) that Tarkovsky fans won’t want to pass up; others may find the experience of one Russian mystic brooding over another a bit like white on white. In Russian with subtitles. (JR)

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