Combustible Celluloid
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With: Andrei Tarkovsky, Margarita Terekhova, Marina Vlady (narrator), Eva Mattes (narrator), Alexandra Stewart (narrator)
Written by: Chris Marker
Directed by: Chris Marker
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 55
Date: 03/19/2013

One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich (1999)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Dinner with Andrei

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Chris Marker pays homage to personal friend and Great Director Andrei Tarkovsky. Marker was allowed on the set of Tarkovsky's last film, The Sacrifice (1986), which Tarkovsky finished shooting just as he learned he was suffering from cancer. Marker films in his usual personal essay style, but with great reverence to the work of the Russian filmmaker. It's great to see all the clips from Tarkovsky's work. I was familiar with the titles (Andrei Rublev, Solaris, The Mirror, Stalker, etc.), but had not seen many of the films. The bulk of the 55 minute-film is made up of clips, as Marker only had a few minutes of footage of Tarkovsky himself. Sometimes the film verges on pretentiousness, and there's a particularly pointed jab at the ignorance of Western filmmakers. But I really enjoyed this portrait of a great artist as told in a personal way and not a generic PBS format.

I saw One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich in the spring of 2000 at the San Francisco International Film Festival, and typical of Marker's films it has remained obscure ever since. In 2011, Icarus Films bestowed upon it a DVD release. Since it's less than an hour long, the DVD includes Sergei Dvortsevoy's In the Dark (2004), a 41-minute documentary about a blind old man that makes bags out of string; and Marina Goldovskaya's 39-minute Three Songs About Motherland. From the looks of things, this DVD is going to be fairly hard to find, but at least I can confirm that it does exist. Any Tarkovsky fans out there should definitely seek it out; it's likely to be the most interesting documentary ever made about him.

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