The News

This section is updated as warranted.
Responsible Newsdesk Editor: Trond S. Trondsen.
Please submit updates to newsdesk@nostalghia.com.

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December 30, 2003

Writer Vladimir Bogomolov died today in Moscow, at the age of 77. He was perhaps best known for his work on the screenplay for Ivan's Childhood, which was based on his novella Ivan.

 

December 19, 2003

The Institute of Contemporary Art in London, England, will be screening Solaris from Saturday December 20 to Tuesday December 23, 2003. Thanks to Wayne Spencer for the heads-up.

Please check out the exhibit Sergei Parajanov: Celebration After Life which runs December 4, 2003 – February 2, 2004 at the Hollywood Entertainment Museum, Hollywood, U.S.A. The event is blogged by mastersofcinema.org's Doug Cummings on his personal website, here.

The Museum of Modern Art (New York, U.S.A.) exhibition The Hidden God: Film and Faith runs from December 4, 2003 – February 27, 2004.

There is a new book out which deals with the cinema of Alexandr Sokurov: Aleksandr Sokurov. Eclissi di cinema (Torino, Associazione Cinema Giovani – Torino Film Festival, 2003, 302 pages, ISBN 9 788888357102). More info may be found here. Thanks to David Cairns for notifying us of this important new publication.

 

November 26, 2003

Please read the following important announcement from Andreï A. Tarkovski and Charles H. de Brantes of the Institut International Andreï Tarkovski — [ announcement in PDF format | announcement in Word format ]. (Updated Nov 27: announcement now includes the time of the event, 7 pm on December 10).

 

November 25, 2003

We have some breaking news to report. According to our long-time friend and supporter Alex Asp, a Nostalghia DVD-9 disc (possibly a 2 x DVD set) is in the works, and will in all probability be on the market by the end of the first quarter of 2004. The DVD, which may safely be described as a "labor of love" will have no region coding, it will include the best possible 16:9 enhanced PAL transfer, Dolby Digital mono Italian soundtrack and English subtitles. Tempo di viaggio is one of the documentaries scheduled to be included. If any of our readers have additional suggestions for DVD bonus materials, please let us know and we shall forward all information to the producer. Stay tuned for further details and for an official announcement. This is spectacular news, especially in view of the fact that Artificial Eye has stopped responding to our email, and that there are no clear indications that they intend to honor their promise of re-issuing their severely flawed Nostalghia disc set (see our September 17 news update and references therein).

We asked the producer of the Swedish Film Institute's new DVD edition of The Sacrifice for an update (see our November 6 news brief). She was kind enough to provide us with the following:

"[...] We had not quite anticipated this enormous interest and mails from all over the world, It's almost overwhelming with so much confidence that we will make the ultimate edition. (Which is our aim, of course!) I'm aware of several flaws in OFFRET and a lot of time, effort (and money!) has been invested in correcting these. Also, the final mix has been analyzed and restored. The quality of REGI ANDREJ TARKOVSKIJ has also been much improved. Both films have subtitles in English. As regards bonus material - should we include all the wishing lists that we have received we would end up with a 10-disc set and bankruptcy. There will be a 2-DVD set containing OFFRET, REGI ANDREJ TARKOVSKIJ and the special bonus material "Memories of Tarkovskij". This is based on an article written by Michal Leszczylowski, editor of OFFRET and director of REGI AT. It is very personal and very beautiful and gives great insight into the world of Tarkovskij. An actor reads the text (in Swedish and in English) to a collage of stills and film sequences matching the text. Currently we are racing towards deadline and are still on target [for a] release date of January 30 [...]"

The good news is that both features have been restored. But the disc set is disappointingly low on extras. Note that the "Memories" article referred to is also found on Nostalghia.com, here. For the record, some of the extra materials we had suggested to the SFI (all quite inexpensive, already existing within the SFI, none of it requiring high bitrates) were as follows:

  • Some of the famous outtakes from the film, from Michal Leszczylowski
  • Excerpts from the 60 hours of footage taken on the set of OFFRET; especially segments showing Little Man playing around the Ikebana — these have never been shown before
  • Eriksdotter's concept documentaries LIGHTING and BUILDING IMAGES
  • Interview with the eloquent and always interesting Erland Josephson, with discussion of the funeral scene
  • Anna-Lena Wibom speaks about Tarkovsky
  • Interview with Award-winning audio engineer Owe Svensson (subtitled)
  • Brief interview with Michal Leszczylowski
  • Our Japanese collaborator offered to provide material on, among other things, the Japanese music used, and how Andrei discovered it in Stockholm

We just received the following letter from frequent site visitor Gerd Syllwasschy of Germany. Also see our November 3 newsbrief.

From:    Gerd Syllwasschy
Date:    Mon Nov 24, 10:38pm +0100
To:      Nostalghia.com
Subject: Re: Icestorm DVDs

Icestorm's Tarkovsky DVDs are being discussed on several German boards 
now. It seems the "Solaris" release is a disc which should better be 
avoided - not only is the image quality vastly inferior to the Criterion 
and Ruscico releases, but the picture has also been cropped to a mere 
(non-anamorphic) 1.85 ratio. You can find screenshots here.

Icestorm's "Stalker" DVD, on the other hand, doesn't seem all that bad 
to me. It is a little dark, thus losing background details, and I don't 
really like the color contrast, but it is in some respects sharper than 
the Ruscico release. It may not be such a bad choice for someone who 
prefers a German-dubbed film - and many Germans don't like subtitles 
since they are accustomed to seeing synchronized movies in cinema and on 
TV. See here for a comparison of Icestorm's and Artificial Eye's versions.

My judgment is based solely on those screenshots which were provided by 
a member of the German "DVD Inside" forum. I haven't seen the Icestorm 
discs myself.

By the way, several users have reported problems with playing these 
discs on a Pioneer DV-535 (picture freezes).

Best,
Gerd


Petr of nostalghia.cz reports that they have just posted a travel log contributed by Czech reader Michal Petrícek, who visited places in and around Paris which are associated with Andrei Tarkovsky in some way (Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois, Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky, rue Puvis de Chavannes, 42 rue Claude Terrasse, Hartmann's Clinic). The travel log includes a small photo gallery. Check it out!

 

November 6, 2003

Our reader Jim Heine recently submitted the following.
From    : Jim Heine
Date    : Wed Nov 5, 2003  14:30:52 Canada/Mountain
To      : newsdesk@nostalghia.com
Subject : New SFI Offret/Sacrifice DVD

I'm not sure if any of this is news or not, but I got this reply today from the SFI:

"It is correct that The Swedish Film Institute is currently working on a DVD-production 
of Offret/The Sacrifice. It will be a restored film version including the documentory 
"Direction Andrej Tarkovskij" by Michal Leszczylowski who was the editor of The Sacrifice. 
There will also be other bonus material. And the best news is that everything will be 
sub-titled in English. You will be able to purchase this DVD from our shop 
filmbutiken@sfi.se from January 30th, 2004.

Kind regards,
Katarina Beckman (SFI)"

See also our September 22 newsbrief. The SFI are (we are told) well aware of our article The Sacrifice Redux, and we are confident that they will avoid most, if not all, of the problems described therein. And the fact that they realize the importance of English subtitling speaks for itself. Let's support their efforts by making this a best-seller. We're long overdue for an acceptable DVD version of The Sacrifice. Those of you who are still pining over the fact that you cannot Region 2/PAL discs, please read the pertinent words by Nick Wrigley (Mastersofcinema.org) at the bottom of this review.

 

November 3, 2003

A new Tarkovsky-related VHS video tape has emerged out of Russia. The tape is entitled Unknown Tarkovsky and contains two of Andrei Tarkovsky's student filmsThe Killers (1956, 20 minutes) and There will be no leave today (1959, 47 minutes) — as well as a new 29 minute feature called Student Andrei Tarkovsky (2003, directed by Galina Leontieva, photographed by Oleg Kochubei). Many thanks to Rodion Demine of solaris-room.ru for this news update. We note that Killers is already available in the West on a DVD, but There will be no leave today has never before been released in any home video format. It certainly would make a nice bonus feature on the (still not confirmed) Criterion release of Ivan's Childhood.

Further to our August 19 and July 4 newsbriefs, it appears that the German DVD editions of Solaris and Stalker are set to be released tomorrow [ Stalker | Solaris ]. The DVDs will only contain a German dubbed mono soundtrack (i.e., no original Russian-language track. Uh,... hello!?). Also included is a Tarkovsky biography/filmography as well as an image gallery. The Stalker disc includes "A reflection by cameraman Rolf Kettner" and Solaris includes "Solaris as an essential question of philosophy, by Michael Rosenhahn." It is unclear whether the latter two items are documentaries or simply audio or text commentaries. Thanks again to Gerd Syllwasschy for the update!

Note that andreitarkovski.org now has an English section of significant size, here. Their extensive DVD Guide (in Spanish, but scroll down the page for their main DVD matrix), based in part on our own DVD section, should be a highly useful reference also to the English reader.

 

October 18, 2003

Our friends and colleagues over at andreitarkovski.org have submitted the following exciting news item. Note the invitation to our readers put forth in the last paragraph below. We encourage you to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

From: www.andreitarkovski.org
To  : www.nostalghia.com
Date: Sat Oct 18, 2003  19:45:31 Canada/Mountain

MARINA TARKOVSKI AND ALEXANDR GORDON TO VISIT SPAIN 

At the invitation of the Film Museum of Valencia (Valencia is one of the 
autonomous regions of Spain), Andrei Tarkovski's sister, Marina, and her 
husband, Andrei's VGIK classmate and himself a filmmaker, Alexandr Gordon, 
will participate in activities scheduled for the period 4 – 11 November, 
2003 in the three Spanish cities of Valencia, Barcelona and Zaragoza. The 
occasion for the visit is the launch of Rafael Llano's work, Andrei Tarkovski. 
Vida y obra, published in Spain by the Publication Services of the Film
Museum of Valencia. The book contains an introduction by Victor Erice.

The program for the upcoming events include:

- VALENCIA: Filmoteca de la Generalitat

   14 October – 6 November:  Film series including all of Tarkovski's films,
   including the 3 student films co-directed by him at the VGIK in Moscow 
   (Ubitsi, 1956; Segodnya uvolneniya ne budet, 1959; Katok i skripka, 1960),
   and the main films and TV documentaries by and on Tarkovski: Tempo de Viaggio,
   by Andrei Tarkovski, 1983; Un poeta nel cinema, by Donatella Baglivo, 1984;
   Andreij Tarkovskkij in Nostalghia, by Donatella Baglivo, 1984; Il cinema e' 
   un mosaico fatto di tempo, by Donatella Baglivo, 1984; Auf der Suche nach der 
   verlorenen Zeit. Andrej Tarkowskij, by Ebbo Demant, 1987.  Regi Andrej 
   Tarkovskij, by Michal Lesczylowski, 1987; A. T. I ricordi di Andrei Tarkovski,
   by Andrei Andreevich Tarkovski, 1996; Une journe'e d'Andrei Arsenevitch, by 
   Chris Marker, 1999.

   5 November: Presentation of Rafael Llano's book, Andrei
   Tarkovski. Vida y obra, by Marina Tarkovski and Alexander Gordon.

- BARCELONA: Pompeu Fabra University, Faculty of Philosophy

   7 November: Conference chaired by Marina Tarkovski. Round-table discussion, 
   with the participation of Marina Tarkovski, Alexander Gordon, and professors
   Rafael Argullol and Tamara Ivancic. Screening of Nostalghia.


- ZARAGOZA: University of Zaragoza, Department of History and Art

   10 November: Conference chaired by Rafael Llano. Round-table discussion, with 
   the participation of Marina Tarkovski, Alexander Gordon, A'ngel Sobreviela and
   Rafael Llano. Screening of Mirror.

Further details and programme updates will be posted to www.andreitarkovski.org
as soon as they become available.

www.andreitarkovski.org would like to invite all visitors of www.nostalghia.com
to  pass  on to us any  questions they  might wish to ask  Marina Tarkovski  or
Alexander Gordon, in order for us to forward these to them as early as possible.
Our  Russian friends'  replies will be translated into  Spanish and English and
posted to both web sites. Please send your questions, comments, and suggestions
to one of the following addresses:

Rafael Llano                                                     Gonzalo Blasco
info@andreitarkovski.org                          webandrei@andreitarkovski.org
[Spanish/English/French]                                      [Spanish/English]




Festival poster

 

October 15, 2003

According to a recent press release from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Sweden, photographer Sven Nykvist and sound engineer Owe Svensson are the recipients of the KTH's 2003 Grand Prize. They receive the award for their remarkable artistic accomplishments. Says the jury, "Through great technical skill they have contributed significantly towards Swedish cultural heritage, and helped give Sweden its unique place in the history of Cinema." The formal ceremony will take place at Stockholm's City Hall on November 14th. The prize is in the amount of SEK 850,000 (USD 110,000), and will be shared by the two recipients. We here at Nostalghia.com wish to congratulate the winners — a well-deserved recognition, indeed! As our readers will be aware of, Sven and Owe were intimately involved also in the making of The Sacrifice.

Patricia and Iria of Zona Moebius have just added to their site a major essay on Andrei Rublov, even featuring some of Rublov's icons. (Those who do not read Spanish could try to pipe the essay through Babelfish for an attempt at an English translation.)

 

October 8, 2003

We recently updated the site with an analysis of the currently available DVDs of The Sacrifice. Please read The Sacrifice Redux.

You are well advised to lend an ear to city of the future, a project spearheaded by Kim Cascone, with exciting contributions from members of the .microsound mailing list. Incidentally, Kim worked with David Lynch as Assistant Music Editor on Twin Peaks and Wild at Heart.

 

September 24, 2003

The Guardian just published this review, by Andrew Clements, of the new production of Tarkovsky's Boris Godunov at the Royal Opera House. Thanks again to Aidan King of Truro, Cornwall for keeping us informed.

 

September 22, 2003

The Asolo Art Film Festival, Italy (22 – 28 September) has just commenced [ website ]. Screening out of competition is Andrei Rublov (27 September), with an introduction by Prof. Fabrizio Borin. Andrei Rublov was the winner of the first Gran Premio Asolo, in 1973.

The Swedish Film Institute (SFI) is currently hard at work mastering a brand new DVD of The Sacrifice. Watch for our upcoming review (in association with DVDBeaver.com) of all The Sacrifice DVDs currently on the market, wherein we demonstrate that all DVDs released to date (all mastered from the same source) are defective in one way or another, and that the time is indeed ripe for a decent DVD presentation of this film. We have full confidence that the SFI will do a top-notch job. We'll keep you posted.

The Guardian newspaper recently had an interesting article about Tarkovsky's 1983 production of Boris Gudonov. Read it here. Thanks to site reader Aidan King of Cornwall for the link. See also our July 25 newsbrief, as well as our Boris page.

We occasionally get correspondence from readers who are desperately trying to obtain copies of the Japanese CD Cinema Classics: Andrei Tarkovsky, displayed in our soundtracks' section. We have thus far been unable to help. The following letter from Preston Houser of Kyoto, Japan seems to confirm that the item is out of print and that stock is depleted. (If any of our readers have been successful in obtaining a copy of this CD, we would like to hear from you!).

From: Preston Houser 
Date: Thu Sep 18, 2003  07:10:01 Canada/Mountain
To: newsdesk at nostalghia.com
Subject: London CD Cinema Classics: Tarkovsky

Just a quick note concerning the London CD Cinema Classics: Andrei Tarkovsky.  
I'm writing from Kyoto, Japan, where I've lived for the past twenty years.  I 
just tried to order the CD from Jyujiya, one of the largest record store chains 
in Japan.  Sure enough the disk is listed on their computer but they just telephoned 
to report that the disk is now out of print.  They contacted all their stores in 
Japan, around 300, to try and locate a copy for me with no luck.  It seems that the 
disk is indefinitely unavailable.  Just thought your readers would like to know the 
latest.

Congratulations on the construction of a great web page for an incredible film maker.

Sincerely,

Preston L. Houser, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of American and British Literature
Baika Women's College

Webmaster of Nostalghia.cz, Petr Gajdosík, writes to inform us that a new section of his site is now open, called Zrcadlo. This link takes takes you to a complete collection of back issues of the journal Zrcadlo (Mirror, in English), a journal released by the Czech Society of Friends of Andrey Tarkovsky (SPAT) during the period 1989 – 1991. This was before the destruction of the communist regime in the Czech Republic, and the journal was thus never an "official" journal. Five issues, all honoring Andrei Tarkovsky, were released, all produced on Xerox equipment. SPAT had about 200 members. Petr Soukup (now webmaster of Zóna) was the principal founder of SPAT and the journal Zrcadlo. We here at Nostalghia.com are full of admiration — you guys are heroes...

 

September 17, 2003

Artificial Eye (U.K.) report that they do not yet have a firm street date for their repaired Nostalgia 2-DVD disk set (see e.g., March 5 newsbrief). The audio problems are apparently more severe than originally thought. In the meantime, you may thus prefer to refrain from purchasing the current issue. We will keep you posted on the status of the upcoming re-issue, as we receive information.

 

September 6, 2003

There was a piece in Thursday's LA Weekly touching upon Chris Marker's Tarkovsky documentary, One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich. Read the article here. The documentary is being screened this week at the American Cinematheque (Los Angeles, U.S.A.). Some screenshots from the film, referenced in our Documentaries section, may be viewed here.

We occasionally receive letters from people who would like to know our opinion on Carlos Reygadas' film Japón. Mastersofcinema.org's own Nick Wrigley pretty much sums up our feelings on the matter in this DVD review. At the other end of the spectrum we have Jim Hoberman, with this review (Village Voice).

 

September 1, 2003

Marina Tarkovskaya's book Oskolki zerkala has been translated from Russian into German. The book, called Splitter des Spiegels, is now shipping from the publisher (edition ebersbach, Berlin). For further information, refer to the publisher's website. Ms. Tarkovskaya will be reading from her book during a September/October tour of Germany. The updated touring schedule may be found here.

We have expanded our article on Overscan to include a few screenshots from Mirror and Stalker, and we have added some general comments on how to select a DVD player that will allow the display of the entire film frame on your overscanned TV/monitor.

 

August 25, 2003

We have added a couple of pages to the site's Topics section that may be of interest to our technically inclined readers:

 

August 19, 2003

Greek director George Agathonikiadis is in the process of making a new documentary film about Andrei Tarkovsky. The 70 minutes long film, which features Andrey Tarkovsky Jr., will open in the Spring of 2004. An article about the project is found here [Czech]. Thanks to Petr of Nostalghia.cz for the heads-up.

It appears that there is going to be a delay in Icestorm Entertainment's line of Soviet film classics (see July 4 newsbrief). The German site DVD Inside reports that Icestorm has postponed the release of all 5 announced DVDs (including Solaris and Stalker) indefinitely due to "licensing issues." See original article here [German]. Many thanks to Gerd Syllwasschy for informing us.

A winner has emerged in our 2nd Annual Anniversary Draw. The winner is Raúl Quintanilla Alvarado of Mexico. Congratulations, Raúl!

 

August 1, 2003

The Filmhouse Cinema in Edinburgh, Scotland, is screening six Tarkovsky films during August and September. See their website for details. Our friends in Edinburgh are starting to get real excited, as these films are rarely screened in Scotland. Thanks to Eleanor Read for notifying us — and good luck with the retrospective!

London's Institute of Contemporary Arts has just started showing a series of Tarkovsky's films. The series starts with Mirror and continues on with Ivan's Childhood. Details can be found on the ICA web site. Wayne Spencer informed us about this screening series.

Petr, curator of the excellent Czech cinema site Nostalghia.cz, writes to inform us that their extensive comparison/analysis of the two cuts of Andrei Rublov is coming along quite well. The graphic analysis features side-by-side screenshots, taken from the "director's cut" vs. the "official cut." The analysis is still a work in progress; a breakdown of the first part of the film is complete, the second part will appear on the site very shortly. The analysis is found here. Click on the chapter links at the bottom of that page, and prepare to be impressed. Petr, we'd love to host an English-language version of this analysis some day...

Nostalghia.com is celebrating its second anniversary today. We wish to thank our readers for all the encouraging emails over the years, and for frequent contributions of News items and other relevant material. The site is still far from what we would like it to be. The site has grown in content much faster than what we had anticipated, with the unfortunate result that some material is still somewhat disorganized and hard to find. We ask for your patience — we are slowly chipping away at it all, as time allows. Just like last year, we want to give something away on this August 1st. There will be a random draw, and the lucky winner will receive this original Japanese chirashi (mini-poster), as well as the original chirashi for the Theatre Image Forum, Tokyo, October – November, 2002 retrospective, and a CD copy of the Kulning music used in The Sacrifice — here is a sample track. All you have to do to enter the draw is to send an email to Trond and Jan at webmasters@nostalghia.com on or before August 15, 2003, with the subject heading "Nostalghia.com Anniversary Draw 2003." Only one entry per household, please. Nostalghia.com is an international site, we welcome entries from overseas. The winner will be contacted by email.

 

July 25, 2003

There will be seven performances of the Tarkovsky production of Boris Godunov at the Royal Opera House in London during late September and early October of this year. See the Royal Opera House web site for details, and start counting your frequent flyer points. Thanks to Andrew Dalton for informing us.

Some upcoming Tarkovsky screening dates...:

Cornell Cinema                  Ithaca, NY              Sept. 3-28
Pittsburgh Filmmakers           Pittsburgh, PA          Sept. 3-25
CSU Performing Arts             Chico, CA               Sept. 11
Oak Street Cinema               Minneapolis, MN         Oct. 25-Nov. 5, 2003
Museum of Fine Arts             Houston, TX             Nov. 2-23, 2003
Market Art Theatre              Buffalo, NY             Nov. 18, 2003
Edinboro University             Edinboro, PA            Feb. 5, 2004

Martin Dench (U.K.) called our attention to a stateside retailer that sells the Japanese Toei Tarkovsky CD's listed in our much-visited soundtracks' section. The site is footlight.com, on 113 East 12th St. NY, New York. Those who find ordering directly from Japan somewhat intimidating may find this site helpful.

American Cinematheque in Hollywood is showing a mini-Marker retrospective in September. One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich is scheduled for September 6.

An Alexander Sokurov 3-DVD box set is about to hit the streets. The disks are NTSC, all-region, and include English subtitles. The price is USD 14,000.00 per box set. Go back up to our toplevel mastersofcinema.org (MoC) page for further details (July 24 news item on that page), and bookmark the page for all future Sokurov-related news developments. MoC is a quickly expanding, fully non-commercial labor of love. We invite your contributions of news items and other relevant materials.

 

July 12, 2003

The Anthology Film Archives, N.Y., is arranging a Tarkovsky retrospective this month. All films except Nostalghia will be screened, starting July 25 [ program ]. The restored Kino prints are being shown. Incidentally, a Bresson retrospective is scheduled for August (as reported by robert-bresson.com).

Those of you who keep a close eye on our updates log will already be aware of several recent additions to the site:

The first five items above were submitted to us by David Stringari of Fairfield, Connecticut, U.S.A. These are his English translations of articles originally published in Italian. We received them by postal mail, on fifteen neatly typewritten pages. He wrote, "Notwithstanding my neoluddite aversion to computers, when I learned of the existence of your website I had the librarians at my local library instruct me as to how to consult it". Thank you, David — you truly have re-charged our batteries more than you know.

Alexander Dovzhenko was one of the Soviet Union's greatest film-makers – but after he fought on the wrong side, his poetic brilliance was hamstrung by years of harassment, says Jonathan Rosenbaum in a recent Guardian article, entitled In Stalin's shadow.

See DVDBeaver's review of two of the disks included in the earlier mentioned RusCiCo box set from the Korean distributor Spectrum: [ Mirror | Ivan's Childhood ]. DVDBeaver appears to think that the disks may be bootlegs. But we might add that RusCiCo does indeed list Spectrum on their "partners" web page — which does provide an indication that the releases may be perfectly legit.  

July 4, 2003

The German company Icestorm Entertainment (www.icestorm.de) has acquired the German video distribution rights for 50 classic films of Soviet cinema. The first five titles are scheduled for release on DVD and VHS in August. Titles include Tarkovsky's Solaris and Stalker, Alexander Mitta's Burn, Burn, My Star and How Czar Peter the Great Married Off His Moor, and Mikhail Romm's Ordinary Fascism. This will be the first time that any of Tarkovsky's films are released on DVD in Germany. According to an article in epd Film magazine, the DVDs will be mastered from restored DEFA prints and will contain German synchronizations made by DEFA, the national motion-picture production and distribution company of the now extinct German Democratic Republic. Apparently, these DVDs will not contain any substantial bonus materials. And, incredibly: the original Russian soundtrack will not be included. Odd behavior by the Germans, who traditionally tend to hold the work of Tarkovsky in high regard. This information was submitted to us by our friend Gerd Syllwasschy of Germany, who gleaned it from the 20 May 2003 Icestorm press release as well as from an article by Jörg Taszman in the July 2003 issue of epd Film.

The Steamroller and the Violin will be airing this Saturday, the 5th of July, on Turner Classic Movies (TCM, USA) at 2:00 am. Many thanks to Jason Roig for notifying us.

 

June 29, 2003

The Canadian Film Institute in Ottawa will over the course of the next few weeks be showing all of Tarkovsky's feature films in new 35mm prints. The programme may be found here. Many thanks to Jon Kung for the heads-up.

Claudio Abbado has, believe it or not, turned seventy. Check out the birthday celebrations at Club Abbadiani Itineranti.

We have received some additional information from Kevin Parent on the Korean RusCiCo box set we mentioned earlier. As already reported, the "light" version of the box set includes only Ivan's Childhood and Mirror, the latest titles to be released in R3. Both of these have English subtitles, although the extra materials on Mirror do not. Specifications are as follows. Ivan's Childhood: Russian 5.1 or original Mono. Subtitles: Korean, Russian, English. Bonus features: archival footage approx 17 min; interview Zharikov 17 min; interview Ochinnikov 32 min; interview Yusov 32 min; extensive filmographies including 14 people, 43 screenfuls of text, and all in English; photo album. Mirror: Russian 5.1 or original Mono. Subtitles: Russian, English, Korean, Off. Bonus features: Arseny Tarkovsky text bio in English; Anatoly Solnisyn 7 min featurette in Russian with Korean subtitles only; Innokenty Smoktunovsky 9 min featurette in Russian with Korean subs only; Memory, 2 min featurette in Russian with Korean subs only; cast & crew; photo album.

Further to our previous newsbrief: In Memoriam Tarkovsky, the CD released on Russian label IVB (IVBCD08), contains four works: Across the River by Michael Prime (of Morphogenis), Tarkovski by Christian Renou (aka Brume), Water, water, water everywhere by Stanislav Kreitchi (Russian composer of electronic music of the same generation as E. Artemjev), and Mr.Foley's final moments by Roger Doyle (of Operating Theatre, etc). The online retailer Ground Fault (groundfault.net) apparently has this item on sale, at a mere USD 4.50. Thanks to Dolf Mulder and Wayne Spencer for contributing to this news item.

 

June 18, 2003

A recent update from the Amsterdam record retailer Staalplaat includes an item on a CD of Tarkovsky-related music, In Memoriam Tarkovsky, issued by the Russian label IVB. See the blurb [text file]. Thanks to Wayne Spencer for notifying us.

The programme for the upcoming Tarkovsky retrospective at the Folly media arts centre (Lancaster, U.K.) is found here [PDF]. These are unfortunately only DVDs being screened — the reason, they claim, is a broken film projector.

There are reports of a Tarkovsky DVD box set coming out of Region 3, from Spectrum of Korea. There appear to be two editions available: a less expensive set (here) as well as a more expensive edition (here). Apparently these are identical in that they each house five RusCiCo titles (Ivan's Childhood, Mirror, Rublov, Solaris and Stalker), but since the latter three titles have been out individually for over a year, the cheaper box does not include these (but still includes space for them). No further details at this time. Thanks to Kevin Parent of Korea for the information, received via the excellent DVDBeaver listserv.

Some additional information on the two "new" RusCiCo titles from France (see our previous newsbrief). The releases are actually the old 2002 RusCiCo issues, but handled by Films sans frontières as French subsidiary (film bar codes #3760019380407 and #3760019380414).

 

June 4, 2003

According to the printed version of their May–August 2003 catalogue, Folly — a media arts centre in Lancaster, UK — will be showing the seven main Tarkovsky films over the period 15–17 August, 2003. Details do not yet appear on their website, but please bookmark it. Thanks to Wayne Spencer for the heads-up.

One of our readers just received the following reply from Artificial Eye upon contacting them regarding the re-release of Nostalghia, asking them what exactly will be improved/changed for the reissue. We quote: "We hope it will be changed but we haven't got all the elements together yet. It will be a few months before we can finalise it." — AE previously told us "early June." This now sounds somewhat unrealistic. We will keep you posted.

Out of curiosity, we asked Artificial Eye to explain the Fox Video annotation on the back of all their DVD cases (see our previous newsbrief). Their response: "It dates from when Fox distributed the videos to retailers. They don't do it any more and we were and remain independent. If you look at new videos, it will say World Cinema where it said Fox. World Cinema belongs 50% to us." Thanks to AE for clarifying the issue... and we apologize for any confusion we may have caused.

RusCiCo is apparently releasing new editions of Andrei Rublov and Stalker on DVD in France. We would like to hear reports from our readers on these. How do they compare with the earlier issues? E.g., does the new Andrei Rublov finally include the original mono track? Also, is the new RusCiCo Ivan's Childhood taken from a better print than their first version (which was worse than the old VHS version). We shall report our/your findings here, and update our DVD recommendations page accordingly. We need your input.

Not directly Tarkovsky related but still interesting, please see the June 4 Guardian article Whatever happened to the rest of the planet? The article includes some interesting comments by the head of Artificial Eye, as well as news that AE have picked up Sokurov's Father and Son.

Some more Sokurov news. U.K. screenings of Russian Ark are listed on AE's dedicated web page. Seville Pictures reports that they have secured an opening for Sokurov's Russian Ark in Calgary, Canada. Screenings start on June 20th, at the Uptown Screen. Screenings at the Garneau Theatre in Edmonton and Oxford Theatre in Halifax should take place some time in July. Gonzalo Blasco tells us that a Sokurov retrospective has just commenced at the Filmoteca Espanola. Their programme is found here [PDF].

 

May 20, 2003

We have learned that Artificial Eye is hoping to have the corrected version of their Nostalgia disk set available for shipping by "early June." No word yet on how exactly one may ensure that the version one purchases at any given point in time is indeed the updated version. We shall keep you posted. (See March 5 & 20 newsbriefs for further context). Be forewarned that old versions of Artificial Eye's Mirror (i.e., without the proper soundtrack) are still shipping from some online retailers (e.g., amazon.uk) as AE (a) failed to recall the faulty disks and (b) failed to properly label the reissue. If you happen to receive the improper version (see January 4 newsbrief on how to identify it), promptly return it to Artificial Eye Film Co Ltd, 14 King Street, London WC2E 8HR, England (Att.: Steve Lewis) for an exchange. Our revised official recommendation is — in view of all this confusion — to simply avoid the AE Mirror altogether, and instead get the new RusCiCo R1 issue (see May 1 newsbrief). In his diary, on 23 November 1983, Tarkovsky writes: "In London I became closely acquainted with André Engel to whom I spoke rather coolly in Cannes. It turns out he is a very nice man. When I asked him why he distributed my films, as they were not very profitable, he responded that I was his Holy Cow. This was very nice." It thus appears that André Engel himself was a co-founder of the Artificial Eye Film Company. Originally independent, Artificial Eye is today, if we understand the small print on their DVD covers correctly, a subsidiary of the Rupert Murdoch News Corporation (Fox Video).

Please don't miss the U.S. Library of Congress exhibition The Empire That Was Russia. It features the photography of Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky, who photographed pre-revolutionary Russia (1905-1915) in color. Here is the photographer himself, circa 1910. This photo was taken in 1911, believe it or not. And this one was taken in 1915, photographer seated to the right, returning from the Zone. Remarkable!

 

May 19, 2003

Darren Hughes of longpauses.com submitted the following after attending parts of the Tarkovsky Retrospective currently being held at the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Thanks, Darren!


From   : Darren Hughes
To     : Nostalghia.com
Date   : Mon, 19 May 2003 09:09:37 -0400
Subject: Tarkovsky at the NGA


While visiting the D.C. area last week I was able to catch the National 
Gallery of Art's screenings of Solaris (5/16) and Mirror (5/17).  The NGA's 
460-seat auditorium is a beautiful theatre with recently upgraded projectors, 
an enormous screen, and adequate sound.  It's located in the East Wing, which 
also houses their Modern and contemporary art collections.  I enjoyed stepping 
out of the theatre into a room full of Rothkos and Lichtensteins.

The 2pm Friday showing of Solaris played to a fairly small crowd -- 100 
people, at most.  I imagine that the Sunday showing attracted a larger crowd.  
Both promotional blurbs that I saw in local papers mentioned Solaris 
specifically.  I was quite disappointed with the print, which was badly 
scratched and showed color temperature changes from reel to reel.  It really 
was a mess.

Mirror, however, looked beautiful.  The theatre was probably 80% full for the 
Saturday showing.  I had never seen Mirror on film or with such a large 
audience, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  But the film clearly "works" -- I 
was often surprised by the laughs it generated (the narrator's "Is his name 
Dostoevsky?" line probably got the biggest one) and by the tension it created.
Both the hand grenade and the slaughtered chicken scenes produced audible 
gasps from the crowd.  And I'll admit that my eyes teared up during my 
favorite scene -- the cut from the archival footage of the young girl in Spain 
to the balloonists.  The print was almost flawless, with only a few small 
scratches.

...

Speaking of Mirror, when I returned home yesterday I found my new Ruscico 
Mirror DVD waiting.  Being able to switch-on-the-fly between mono and 5.1 
reveals just how much tinkering they've done to the latter.  Sitting in the 
theatre on Saturday, I was struck by the complete silence of so many scenes.  
The 5.1 track ruins this with new "ambient" sounds -- birds chirping, wind 
blowing.  They've also balanced the levels so that, for instance, the crowd 
noises are no longer blaring during the footage from Spain.  I don't get it.



                                                                Darren


We recently stumbled across an online version of Fred Camper's article The Trouble with Video. It may be of interest to some of our readers...

 

May 17, 2003

The Tarkovsky retrospective at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, is well underway (see March 13 newsbrief). We invite you to submit capsule reviews of your favorite screenings. We depend upon reader contributions to keep our news section alive and exciting. If there are new publications (any media) and screenings (any country), we want to hear about it!

Shin-Bungeiza Theatre [ website |  venue ] in Tokyo will be showing Andrei Tarkovsky and Nikita Michalkov films as a part of their World Film Authors series, from May 24 – June 6. According to their schedule, Solaris and Nostalghia will be screened May 24–26, Mirror and Stalker May 27–29, Andrei Rublov and Ivan's Childhood May 30 – June 1. Thanks to Kimitoshi for this update.

The following DVD "easter eggs" were submitted to newsdesk [ what are easter eggs? ]:

  • SOLARIS (Criterion): On the subtitle menu, highlight "Main" and then move the cursor to the left and you will see that a line appears. Select it.
  • THE KILLERS (Criterion) go to the biographies section and select Clu Gulager. On screen showing Gulager's photo, press "up" and a box will appear next to Gulager's name. Press "enter".

There was a Tarkovsky-mention in the programme catalogue for the recent L.A. Exhibition of Russian Cinema [ website ]. On page 7, the following message from Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio: "It is a great pleasure for me to learn of the emergence of the first Annual Russian Intl Film Festival and their first LA Exhibition of Russian Cinema as I have been a longtime fan of Russian Film, especially the works of Eisenstein and Tarkovsky..."

On May 11, distinguished film director Mikhail Vardanov accepted the highest honor of the Beverly Hills Film Festival, the Golden Palm Award for Best Picture, for his documentary PARAJANOV: The Last Spring. The film, which also incorporates a moving tribute to Andrei Tarkovsky, has previously won the Russian Academy of Cinema Arts NIKA Award (1992) and the Golden Gate Award of the San Francisco Intl Film Festival (1995). The highlight of Vardanov's acceptance speech during the awards dinner ceremony held at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard was the screening of a scene from Sergei Iosifovich Parajanov's unfinished The Confession — Mr. Vardanov used it to compare Eisenstein's and Mayakovsky's description of the Revolution to that of Parajanov, thus illustrating uniqueness of the film language of Parajanov. Mikhail Vardanov's son Martin, curator of parajanov.com, co-wrote the documentary. (Incidentally, he is also a longtime friend and supporter of Nostalghia.com).

Some Sokurov screenings: Director Keith Rose reports that Sokurov's Russian Ark will be playing at the Enzian theatre in Orlando on June 13. The film will be digitally projected — one of only four U.S. theatres showing it that way. Gonzlo Blasco of Spain reports that there will be a Sokurov retrospective held at the Filmoteca Espańola in June.

 

May 1, 2003

The mono version of RusCiCo's Mirror DVD is now finally available in region R1/NTSC. rbcmp3.com is very helpful in that they clearly differentiate between the two versions on their website — the mono version is listed here. Thanks to Mikhail Lemkhin for notifying us. Speaking of Mikhail, a signed and numbered print of his wonderful Tarkovsky portrait graces the walls of Nostalghia.com headquarters. It is a strictly limited edition, but we believe prints are still available via his website lemkhin.com. Heartily recommended...!

Kino has updated their Tarkovsky retrospective dates, and Canada is now in the works:

National Gallery of Art Washington, DC. May 5-30
Symphony Space New York, NY. May 17-18
AMMI Queens, NY. June 6-8
Webster University Webster Groves, MO. June 13-22
AMMI Queens, NY. June 14-15
Pacific Cinematheque Vancouver, Canada. June 20-July 1
Canadian Film Institute Ottawa, Canada. June 28-July 13
Cornell Cinema Ithaca, NY. Sept. 3-28

Jim Holland of Raleigh, NC reports a Tarkovsky reference in Godfrey Cheshire's recent review of Russian Ark, entitled The Winter Palace.

 

April 18, 2003

Nothing much to report these days; we're still waiting for news from Artificial Eye regarding their Nostalghia DVD re-issue and will let you know the moment we have anything to report.

The Los Angeles Exhibition of Russian Cinema starts today. Among titles to be screened are Mirror and Andrei Rublov, as well as Parajanov's The Legend of Suram Fortress and Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors. Check the Exhibition's website for showtimes. While on the topic of Parajanov, a transcript of the famous Holloway interview may be found here. His last statement (on Tarkovsky) is particularly touching — the actual footage may be found among the supplemental materials on Kino's The Colour of Pomegranates DVD.

 

April 9, 2003

April 4th was what would have been Andrei's 71st birthday. Our correspondent in Ivanovo sent us the following report.
From   : Yevgeny Borzov
To     : Nostalghia.com
Date   : Wed, 09 Apr 2003 09:06:22 +0000
Subject: AT remembered in Russia


Dear Jan and Trond,

I guess it would be of interest for you to know, that the traditional 
memorial Andrey Tarkovsky's Days were held in Ivanovo and  Yurievets last 
week.  They started on April 3 with a conference, devoted to the director's 
legacy.  His sister Marina came to participate in this event and shared her 
memories about her brother.  The next day the participants assembled in 
Yurievets for more talks, and a picture exhibition "Nostalghia: 20 years 
ago," opened at a local museum.  But the focus of attention was on a press 
conference, at which Marina Tarkovskaya presented her new book. "About  
Tarkovsky" (560 pp., Dedalus, ISBN 5-93154-003-2) is a collection of 
reminiscences in two volumes.  The first volume is actually a revised 
edition of her previous book, published in 1989.  The second one is a new 
collection of stories and pictures mostly from private archives.  There are 
about 50 essays, contributed to this book by Andrey Tarkovsky's friends, 
colleagues and fans.  Alexander Gordon (Marina's husband and Andrey's fellow 
student) and Natalia Bondarchuk (who starred in Solaris) also remembered the 
master and the time when they worked together.  

Please see the attachment for some pictures about the event.

Best wishes,

Eugene Borzov

Some of or readers will undoubtedly recognize Alexander Gordon from his appearance in The Killers. See our excerpt from Gordon's piece called Student Years which appeared in the wonderful 1989 edition of Marina's book. All photos above are © Eugene Borzov/Nostalghia.com — All rights reserved.

Gonzalo Blasco in Spain informs us that Chris Marker's documentary Une journée d'Andrei Arsenevitch will be screened during the upcoming Chris Marker Retrospective in Madrid (first screening on April 30). The full programme is found at the Filmoteca EspańolaPDF ].

Our Japan correspondent, Kimitoshi Sato, reports that Tarkovsky's major works will be shown at a reputable theater in Tokyo in late May. Details to follow closer to the actual date. On a somewhat unrelated note, in his report Kimitoshi also mentions that Bela Tarr participated in a symposium held in conjunction with the recent Hungarian Film Festival in Tokyo [ web site ]. Both Sátántangó and Werckmeister Harmonies were screened during the Festival. Color us envious.

 

April 2, 2003

We recently received the following letter from our reader Wes Moynihan of Ireland:
[...]
There are 8 subtitles that feature on Artificial Eye's VHS PAL 
edition of MIRROR (ART 020, 1991) that do not appear on the 
Kino and Artificial Eye DVDs. These subtitles appear during the 
newsreel footage used in the film. They are as follows :

  a.. "Spanish Civil War" (38 minutes 54 seconds) 
  b.. "Record Breaking ascent to stratosphere by Soviet balloon" (40:23) 
  c.. "Soviet troops crossing Sivage lagoon, Crimea 1944" (57:08) 
  d.. "Soviet troops liberate Prague, 1945" (60:43) 
  e.. "Moscow victory parade" (61:02) 
  f.. "First atomic bomb, Hiroshima, 1945" (61:12) 
  g.. "China, 1969" (62:13) 
  h.. "Soviet border guards confront Chinese demonstrators, Damansky Island, 1969" (62:36)

I initially believed that the absence of these subtitles on the Kino 
DVD of MIRROR was simply a mistake on their part, so I was very surprised 
to see that the Artificial Eye version omits them also... It's not a major 
problem but I do think it's more effective to identify the newsreel footage. 
More puzzling is the origin of these subtitles, I wonder were they present 
on domestic and export prints of the film ? Perhaps someone can shed some light 
on this....

Regards,
Wes Moynihan,
Ireland.

Thank you Wes for providing our readers with the above titles, which do help put things into context. Theatrical prints actually never contained these — they were most likely added by the UK publisher to the VHS version. When the film was shown in the West for the first time at film festivals and the like, the audiences were given a little printed "explanation" of the documentary footage (and also of who exactly those displaced Spanish people in Moscow were!). Since Tarkovsky never added these titles himself, we here at Nostalghia.com believe that they should not be there. Unfortunately, a non-Russian viewer is then missing some of the context. For future Mirror DVDs, perhaps the inclusion of a printed note (akin to the above note from Wes) or an additional subtitle channel might be a solution?

Paolo Mottana, teacher of Philosophy of Education at the University of Milan (Bicocca), has submitted to us a paper he has written on Tarkovsky. It is also published in his latest book, L'opera dello sguardo, which is a study on the use of imagination in education. The paper, written in Italian, is entitled Il limo salvifico di Andrej Tarkovskij. A PDF version of the paper may be accessed here — we have also added the article to our Links' section. (We will post it in our Topics' section if someone volunteers to translate the article into English for us.) Thanks to Mr. Mottana for sending us his paper and for giving us his permission to host the paper on our web site.

Filmmaker David Cairns pointed us to this article on Sokurov's Russian Ark, written by Benjamin Halligan and hosted by the excellent Senses of Cinema website. Tarkovsky is mentioned several times, and the piece is well worth reading.

Seville Pictures, Canada, reports that Russian Ark will open in Edmonton on May 16th, at the Garneau Cinema. It also plays at the Cinematheque Winnipeg (part of the Winnipeg Film Group) on June 6–12. Seville has kindly provided us with this press kit [PDF], which includes an interesting piece written by Dr. Ken Barlett, Professor of History at the University of Toronto; It was written with a view towards preparing press and viewers for the historical perspective of Russian Ark.

 

March 20, 2003

We are cooperating actively with Artificial Eye in an advisory role as they work on rectifying the various problems associated with their recent Nostalghia disk set. They appear to be taking this issue very seriously and things are proceeding well. A significantly improved (much more complete) version of the English subtitles for Tempo di viaggio is already in the finishing stages. An incorrect (discarded) version of the subtitle file was accidentally used on the released DVD. Due to the special attention given to the issue now, it has been possible to significantly enhance even the "correct" subtitle file. Other issues will be attacked in turn.

Our page dedicated to the book of Tarkovsky Polaroids, Luce istantanea, is complete. It may be accessed here. Do not miss the excellent essays therein by Guerra and Chiaramonte, kindly provided to us by the book's producer (Ultreya, Italy).

In Nostalghia, why, after traveling hundreds of miles to see the Madonna del Parto does Gorchakov not enter the Chapel? James Macgillivray seeks to show that the answer to this question lies in the relationship between Gorchakov and Tarkovsky. Please read his utterly fascinating and richly illustrated paper, Andrei Tarkovsky's "Madonna del Parto".

Our Paris correspondent Michael Lellouche attended the recent Dietrich Sagert stage adaptation of Tarkovsky's Hoffmanniana (see our February 19 announcement). He shares his personal impressions in this report. We invite other attendees to submit their own viewpoints — email newsdesk@nostalghia.com.

Seville Pictures (Canada) informs us that the opening week for Sokurov's Russian Ark at the Varsity in Toronto was very good — the film was the number one performer at the complex and netted a surprising $40,000 in 7 days. Two additional prints have been ordered in view of its popularity. As a result, Seville has been able to lock an opening for Vancouver (April 4th at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas) and for Ottawa (April 17-27 at the Bytowne Cinema). Dates for Edmonton (Garneau Theatre), Calgary (Uptown) and Winnipeg (Globe Cinema) will be announced within the next two weeks.

Finally, we take this opportunity to briefly quote from Alexander Sokurov's haunting essay Death, the Banal Leveller—On Tarkovsky.

"If I'm asked whether I am one of [Tarkovsky's] disciples, I reply with a triple 'No.' I never studied under him. I never idolised him. And I will never continue his work, because each artist must go down his own path. The path which he followed could only be his: he sought out his own forest and there he made his own clearing, in order then to follow his own compass to the north — towards his death. And there is nothing unusual in all this: everyone in Russia goes his own way, at least those who have inner faith.
"In their souls all Russians are people who 'clear paths through the forests.' Some willingly, some against their will. All of us beat a path through life as if through the Taiga and make terrible sacrifices in the process. And if by chance we happen upon a clearing full of berries, sunlight and soft grass we immediately lose our heads, become melancholic and give up the search for the promised land to go looking for a new thicket, to pursue new trials in the deadly forest, never to return to that place where a seductively simple good fortune revealed itself to our eyes."

Excerpted from Alexander Sokurov: Death, the Banal Leveller—On Tarkovsky.
[Unpublished English translation]

 

March 13, 2003

The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., has confirmed the following dates:
  • Ivan's Childhood May 2 - 2:30 pm, and May 4 - 4:00 pm
  • Andrei Rublov May 9 - 2:00 pm, and May 11 - 4:30 pm
  • Solaris May 16 - 2:00 pm, and May 18 - 4:00 pm
  • Mirror May 15 - 2:30 pm, and May 17 - 4:00 pm
  • Stalker May 23 - 2:30 pm, and May 25 - 4:00 pm
  • Nostalghia not to be screened
  • The Sacrifice May 24 - at noon, and at 3:00 pm
  • Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky May 29 - 2:30 pm, and June 1 - 4:00 pm
A relatively high turnout is expected — arrive early. From the NGA website: "All programs are in the East Building Auditorium, 4th Street at Constitution Avenue, N.W. Film programs are free of charge, but seating is on a limited first-come, first-served basis. The East Building auditorium is equipped with an FM wireless listening system for the hearing impaired. Receivers, ear phones, and neck loops are available at the Art Information Desk near the main entrance. Programs are subject to change; for the latest information call (202) 842-6799."

A few days ago, we submitted to Artificial Eye our list of identified problems with their Nostalghia disk set (see our March 8 newsbrief for the full list). Their first response is as follows (stay tuned for further updates).

From   : Steven Lewis / Artificial Eye
To     : Trond Trondsen / Nostalghia.com
Date   : Thu Mar 13,  2:57pm +0000
Subject: Nostalghia

Dear Trond,

I just wanted to reassure that these issues are currently being
investigated. The comments have been passed to our DVD authoring 
company and I will be able to respond to you more fully soon.

Best regards,

Steve

A restored print of Solaris will be shown next week at a film festival in Bergamo, near Milan. The festival is the "Bergamo Film Meeting." Although it is generally considered a "minor" festival, it offers the opportunity to catch some rather rare films. The programme is found here, and a link directly to the page listing the restored Solaris is located here. The Italian text here says: "Taken from a book by Stanislaw Lem, it is a trip into space, but mostly into the human mind, into the mysteries which cross our paths. It will be shown—at last—in a new integral copy, running 165 minutes (in Italy it was originally shortened to 115 min), taken from a restored negative. With the collaboration of the International Andrej Tarkovskij Institute of Florence, headed by his son Andrej." Thanks to Paolo Pardo for this update.

Barnaby Weiler in London, England, sent us the following update on the quality of presentation at the March 11 Solaris screening at Ciné Lumičre:

[...] About 40 mins from the end, the film went into double speed and had to be stopped (for about 10 minutes) at which point some people left, and others went out for a smoke or brought back food to eat! It was a bloody carnival. [...] The print was fairly good, with the usual dust and occasional discolourations. I wasn't able to trace where the print came from (though I know Art Eye used to be responsible for film distribution in the UK as well as video/DVD). There were no noticable chunks missing, and despite the above I enjoyed the spectacle nonetheless. [...] There were a few points during the film where there were no subtitles when the characters were speaking. I've witnessed this with many non-English films, and I'm not sure why. Do the subtitlers think what is being said is irrelevant? And if so, it's not really their call to make...

Our feeble attempt at easing the DVD confusion: Tarkovsky DVDs: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

 

March 10, 2003

The following are some upcoming Tarkovsky screenings in the U.S.A. The new prints are Ivan's Childhood, Andrei Rublov, Solaris, and Mirror. Stalker comes in a less-than-perfect print imported from Europe. See yesterday's newsbrief for an evaluation of the new Rublov print.

The Cleveland Cinematheque [ website ]

Ivan's Childhood — 4/3
Andrei Rublov — 4/11, 4/13
Solaris — 4/4, 4/5, 4/6
Mirror — 4/3, 4/6
Stalker — 4/10, 4/12
The Sacrifice — 4/13

Guild Theater/Northwest Film Center, Portland Oregon

Ivan's Childhood — 4/19, 4/20
Andrei Rublov — 4/26, 4/27
Solaris — 4/11, 4/12
Mirror — 4/17, 4/18
Stalker — 4/24, 4/25
The Sacrifice — 4/30, 5/1


We have received the sad news that Stan Brakhage has passed away [ announcement ]. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his whole family.

 

March 9, 2003

Richard Malloy recently attended a screening of the new print of Andrei Rublov at the The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (see our February 17 news column). Vida Johnson showed up for a rather interesting discussion... please read Richard's interesting and informative report.

Our correspondent Petr Gajdošík [ Nostalghia.cz ] in the Czech Republic tells us of a significant new book by Czech director Vladimír Suchánek which has just hit the bookstores. Mr. Suchánek studied at the VGIK, and had the opportunity to attend several of Tarkovsky's famous VGIK lectures. Due to his religious convictions, Mr. Suchánek was unable to make films during the communist era. His book is entitled Topografie transcendentních souradnic filmového obrazu (in English perhaps something like, Topography of transcendental film screen coordinates) [ISBN 80-244-0417-6]. The book is a theoretic work, reportedly a rather insightful treatise on the topic of spiritual/transcendental cinema, covering directors such as Parajanov, Bergman, Vlacil, Abuladze, Trier, and Tarkovsky. A full one-third of the book is devoted to an analysis of the films Andrei Tarkovsky. A review of the book, in Czech, can be found here, and table of contents is found here. Vladimír Suchánek is currently a lecturer at the University of Palacky in Moravia, and he is working on a documentary feature.

Petr also reports that he concurs with all our finding regarding Artificial Eye's Nostalghia DVD. His own analysis is found here (in Czech). It is interesting to note how, in this age of the Internet, problems concerning video and audio transfers onto consumer video formats are immediately spotted and information so quickly disseminated. Back in the age of the VHS, problems just tended to roll on for years. Films suffering from severe defects (such as faulty aspect ratios) made their way into libraries and homes, unnoticed by all but the most alert viewers— who harbored no hope that the error would ever be rectified. With the advent of DVD, however, viewers are more informed and discriminating than ever before. The product can now be analyzed in minute detail on their own personal computers and a report-card can be issued for the whole world to read within a matter of minutes. People are no longer willing to put up with disrespectful treatment of their favorite works of art. This, we believe, is an encouraging trend. End of today's rant. Have a good week.

Here is a brief audio clip from the opening sequence of Artificial Eye's Nostalgia: [ mp3 (1 MB) ]. At the very least we can say this: it is easy to tell where the soundtrack begins.

 

March 8, 2003

Today's news update takes us from Japan to Los Angeles, via the long route.

Japan: Nostalghia came to the end of its run at the Image Forum, Tokyo on Friday March 7th. NHK BS2 airs Nostalghia 00:45 - 02:52 am, and Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky 02:53 - 04:30 am, both on March 9. Eisei Gekijo satellite TV airs Solaris on March 10 at 01:00 - 04:00 pm, and on March 25 at 07:00 - 10:00 am. Set your VCRs.

Italy: We have established contact with the editors of Luce istantanea, the book of Tarkovsky Polaroids (see February 18 newsbrief) and will bring you a Q & A shortly, including a complete English translation of Guerra's foreword. We recently received a copy of the book at newsdesk and we are quite impressed; it is very nicely done, on high-quality paper. The Polaroids themselves are stunning, and are presented with obvious love and care and with great attention to detail. Laura Geronazzo at the Ultreya editorial office is fluent in English and has offered to personally serve (in English) anyone wishing to purchase the book. Her email address is laura.gero@ultreya.it

Germany: Andrei Rublov, Solaris, Mirror, and Stalker are being screened in Hildesheim, Germany, from May 13 to June 3. Refer to the KellerKino website — and mark your calendars.

England: It turns out that there are quite a number of ailments afflicting the Artificial Eye Nostalghia disk set. The main problems are as listed below. Artificial Eye will be made aware of these, and we firmly hope that the problems will be adequately addressed in an upcoming re-issue. (Please also refer to this somewhat more detailed analysis — thanks Markus!)

  • The image is not only cropped, it is also noticeably squeezed in the vertical direction causing peoples' faces to appear bloated.
  • Artificial Eye's transfer comes on a single-layered disc, with a mere 4.49 Mb/s bitrate. This is half the rate of the FoxLorber double-layered DVD (R1/NTSC). This low bandwidth results in visible compression artifacts, and degradation of image sharpness/definition.
  • The audio of the main feature is (erroneously) encoded according to the mp2 standard instead of the Dolby Digital stated on the cover. The audio is thus rendered unplayable by many modern DVD players and home theatre systems. And those who can play back MPEG audio are treated to an exceptionally unpleasant soundtrack.
  • The film's subtitles show off a new "feature": subtitles slowly "fade in" and "fade out" rather than just appearing and disappearing. This impinges upon the the total amount of time available to the viewer in which to absorb subtitles. It also becomes a major cause of irritation, constantly drawing attention to itself. This is an abomination which must be nipped in the bud before it becomes the norm.
  • The subtitles on Tempo di viaggio are in need of an overhaul. The font is changing, and subtitles go significantly out of sync with what is on-screen at times. It appears that Artificial Eye's subtitle parsing engine interprets lines that start with the letter "i", "b" or "u" as having to be rendered italic, bold, and underlined, respectively. It boggles the mind how this could have gotten past Artificial Eye's QC&A people. The very same problem affects yet another gem of a film deserving of a better treatment, viz., Zhang Ke Jia's Platform (Artificial Eye). (See comments on Platform subtitles here.)
  • Disappointingly, 90% of the Russian dialogue in Donatella Baglivo's documentary remains untranslated — the titles kick in only after Tarkovsky (for example) switches to Italian. (In Tempo there is an amusing mistake: Tarkovsky is portrayed as saying he likes Antonioni for his "adventures." Of course what he actually said was that he liked Antonioni for his L'Avventura.)

Los Angeles, U.S.A.: Film director Warren Tessler [ website ] files the following report:

From   : Warren Tessler / logicalfilms.com
To     : newsdesk@nostalghia.com
Date   : Fri, 7 Mar 2003 16:41:22 -0800
Subject: Recent Nuart Retrospective

Hello, just wanted to say I also caught a couple of flicks at the recent
retrospective held at the Nuart Theatre in west Los Angeles.

Regarding a post by a Mr. Eric Monian on March 6th, he commented there
were quite a few defects with the "Stalker" print.  As I was at the same
screening when the film broke, I agree with him.  The reason was not due
to a poorly made new print, but because it was an original print, or at
least an old one.  In fact, the only new prints shown at the Nuart over
the week were of "Ivan's Childhood" and "The Mirror."  As I only caught
"The Mirror," I can impart that as it was the first time I've seen a new
print of a Tarkovsky film, it was perhaps one of the most beautiful
films I've ever seen, and I wish my previous screenings of "Stalker" and
"Solaris" on the big screen could have been as inspiring if not for
their poor image quality.

Regards,

Warren Tessler

We ask our readers to keep us posted on the quality of presentation (or lack of such), as the retrospective makes its way across the continent.

 

March 6, 2003

While we await further word from Artificial Eye on their Nostalghia DVD recall and replacement programme, here is an update from Eric Monian on the recent NuArt Theatre, Los Angeles, Tarkovsky retrospective:

From   : Eric Monian 
To     : newsdesk@nostalghia.com
Date   : Thu Mar  6, 12:14pm -0500
Subject: Tarkovsky Retrospective at NuArt



Hi,
 
I just spent two days hanging out at the NuArt in Los Angeles for the
Tarkovsvky retrospective.  I thought you might like some feedback on
what it was like.

I saw Stalker on Tuesday night and although the print was new, it was
actually quite bad.  There was a lot of audio hissing at the beginning,
and the film actually stopped at one point and the house lights went up
for a minute or two.  Also, certain scenes just had tons of grain on the
film, while other scenes were completely pristine and of course,
beautiful.  Overall, the movie was great (second time viewing), but the
film quality definitely affected the viewing experience.

Wednesday night was a double bill, Ivans Childhood and Mirror.  Both
film prints were gorgeous and no noticeable hissing like Stalker
(although all 3 were coming from KINO). First time viewing for Ivan's
Childhood and 3rd for Mirror.  

The crowd at the 5:00 pm showing for Stalker was average, while the
theater had a much better showing for the 7:30 Ivans Childhood on
Wednesday.  The 5:00 pm showing might have been hard for a lot of people
to make.

Overall, I was so thankful to have the opportunity to view so many of
Tarkovsvky's film on the big screen...a rare treat on the West Coast.

[...]


Thank you and have a great day,

Eric Monian




March 5, 2003


STOP PRESS — This is the latest, just in from Artificial Eye:

From   : Steven Lewis / Artificial Eye
To     : Trond Trondsen
Date   : Wed Mar  5,  5:33pm +0000
Subject: Nostalghia

Dear Trond,

There may after all be an issue with the audio, as it would seem that the
DVD authoring company has deviated from the specifications we gave to them.
I do not not have any further information at this time but will, of course,
advise you as soon as I do.

In the meantime, may I apologise to to customers inconvenienced by problems
with our DVD of Nostalgia and assure them that steps will be taken to
rectify them.

Best regards,

Steve
--
Artificial Eye Film Company Ltd


Postings from earlier today:

Artificial Eye has issued the following preliminary statement in response to our inquiries (see our two previous newsbriefs).


From   : Steven Lewis / Artificial Eye
To     : Trond Trondsen  / Nostalghia.com
Date   : Wed Mar  5, 11:08am +0000
Subject: Re.: Nostalghia DVD

Dear Trond,

I am currently investigating the situation with our DVD authoring company
regarding the aspect ratio and will reply to you more fully as soon as I
can.

Regarding the sound, the audio on the master tape supplied to us by RAI
Trade in Italy, who controls the rights to the film, was in a terrible state.
We have in fact carried out some audio restoration work - and it does sound
much better - but working from such poor quality source material doesn't
produce perfect results, unfortunately.

I did raise the issue with RAI Trade who advised that the transfer was made
last year from the original negative and that it was the best master
available. I also checked the audio on our existing VHS master and that was
just as poor, although it isn't quite as noticeable on the comparatively
crude VHS format. I would like to assure you that the audio is not MPEG
sound and is in fact Dolby Digital, however.

Best regards,

Steve

A reader in Croatia sent us the following.


From   : Vladimir Jovanovic 
To     : Newsdesk
Date   : Wed, 5 Mar 2003 00:38:33 +0100
Subject: Artificial Eye's Nostalghia - No sound at all

Hi,

With regard to the latest complaint regarding problems with sound on the new 
edition of Nostalghia by Artifical Eye, I would like to add that I am 
getting no sound at all on my home cinema from the feature film.  The second 
disc plays just fine.

My components are as follows:

Pioneer DV 454 (dvd player)
Yamaha DSP-A5 (home cinema receiver)

I hope you can advise me about which course of action to take regarding this matter.

Thank you.

Best regards

Vladimir Jovanovic
Zagreb, Croatia


Developing... — stay tuned.

March 3, 2003

We continue to receive rather disturbing news from overseas.
From   : Jon Robertson 
To     : newsdesk@nostalghia.com
Date   : Mon Mar  3,  9:49am +0000
Subject: Artificial Eye's Nostalghia - serious sound problems

Hi Trond,

I've just received Artificial Eye's new set of
Nostalgia and, in what will surely be a blow for
some, the film itself is erroneously encoded with MPEG
sound, as opposed to the Dolby Digital stated on the
back of the case.

This basically means, for me and my player, that no
matter to which Digital Audio Output selection I
choose on my player, I'm still greeted by an appalling
level of hiss and crackling that sounds akin to a late
1920's talkie.

Both documentaries have been encoded as Dolby Digital,
but the menus on both discs and the film itself have
utterly dire sound. It should be noted that many
players can indeed handle MPEG sound without any side
effects, but for those of us who can't, we're up sh*t
creek.

I've sent an e-mail to Artificial Eye explaining the
problem in detail, and hopefully we'll see a Mirror-like
exchange programme for discs correctly authored with 
Dolby Digital soundtracks.

Keep up the fine work!

- Jon Robertson


Tarkovsky was a demanding director. He was a meticulous person, a professional who left very little to chance. His fans are equally demanding. We have been treated to a string of desecrations of his art over the past year, and the latest gaffe by Artificial Eye (see also yesterday's newsbrief) simply serves to add insult to injury. We have contacted Artificial Eye for their opinion on the matter, and their planned course of action.

March 2, 2003

Our review copy of Artificial Eye's newly released Nostalghia DVD has not yet arrived at Newsdesk, but we have started receiving reports on the product from our readers in the U.K. There is good news and there is bad news.

First, the good news. Tarkovsky's own Tempo di viaggio and Baglivo's "making-of" documentary are simply riveting. Tempo is presented for the first time ever with English subtitles, in its original aspect ratio (OAR) of 1.33:1. It was transferred from 16 mm, and looks accordingly. Subtitles are removable. The feature is very watchable. Baglivo's documentary, Andrei Tarkovsky in Nostalghia, has ingrained English subtitles and a tape glitch error in the form of a few lines across the top of the screen that constantly draw attention to themselves. The documentary is very watchable, but the transfer is less than ideal. The transfer of the main feature itself, Nostalghia, has that "grainy but good" quality, and looks very similar to the excellent Artificial Eye Sacrifice disk (which was also anamorphic).

And then the bad news. The OAR of Tarkovsky's Nostalghia is 1.66:1. This is also the aspect ratio of the Fox Lorber DVD, a port of the earlier Criterion Laserdisc. However, Artificial Eye is here presenting Nostalghia in an aspect ratio of 1.76:1. Comparing their version to the Fox Lorber version reveals that a significant amount of image material is missing from the top and the bottom of the image, slightly altering Tarkovsky's painstakingly created image compositions. We will ask Artificial Eye to explain the rationale behind their cropping of the image.

March 1, 2003

Paolo Pardo has supplied us with some further clarifying details on the recently released Italian Solaris DVD [ cover scan ].

The DVD is not quite as bad as the original Italian theatrical release [ described here ] — it is advertised as being the "fully restored film, taken from a Russian print." But, the best the disc's producers could do was apparently to recover and insert the footage that had previously been cut from the film. So, the first 40 minutes of the DVD has the Russian soundtrack, after which the Italian dubbing kicks in.

The tagline on the DVD's cover reads: "A fantastic trip in the sidereal space, where you can find your happiness again." (We could comment quite a bit on that, but we won't.) As mentioned in our earlier article, the scene depicted here does actually not appear in the film itself.

As for the image quality, it is somewhat crisper and cleaner than RusCiCo's version, although digital video noise/artifacts are visible at times (Criterion's version is thus still the preferred version). The DVD is distributed by 20th Century Fox Italy, it comes on a single disc, runtime 160 minutes. The aspect ratio is 2.41:1 (anamorphic), average bitrate is 5.5 Mb/s. Language options are Italian DD 5.1, Italian Stereo Surround, and Russian DD 5.1 (the first 40 minutes in Russian only). The disc's extras include a 15-minute introduction to the film by film critic Enrico Ghezzi, as well as a 10-minute documentary on the restoration of the film, with the added feature of being able to compare (using the multiangle function) the original and restored versions.

In a bizarre twist, during his introduction to the film Mr. Ghezzi is seen partially hiding a monitor on which the animated menu of RusCiCo's version of Solaris may be readily seen.

British actor Bob Hewis [ bio ] recently attended a screening of Solaris in Vienna, and filed the following report.

From   : Bob Hewis
To     : Nostalghia.com
Date   : Thu, 27 Feb 2003 17:48 +0100
Subject: Solaris German overdub


Hello,

I've just been making one of my all-too brief visits to nostalghia.com and I 
thought I'd just drop in a comment about the German version of Solaris I saw 
here in Vienna last week.  

The new print was nice and clean, although it suffered from what another 
correspondent here has already mentioned: bizarre "black" splices everywhere;
but what really, really, REALLY got on my nerves was the German voice-over! 
If I go to the movies here and I see OmU, that's OK — Originalfassung mit 
Untertiteln..... but when I see DF — Deutsche Fassung, my blood begins to 
boil at the best of times. What made this particularly bad was the appalling 
quality of the acting from the German artists — it was frankly amateurish. 
There's always a tendency to overannunciation from these voice-over guys, but 
that, coupled with the ham-fisted attempt to reproduce every sigh, groan 
and contemplative "humm..." made this 166 minutes of torture for me! I love 
the sound of Russian (don't get me wrong - German too, when it's well spoken), 
and I've come to know wonderful actors like Tolya Solonitsyn, for instance, 
by voice as well as appearance. Subtitles are always the preferred medium for 
me, but oh God, this took the biscuit!

Concerning Solaris, this was the first time I'd seen it for a long time, was 
duly impressed as ever, but I find it lacks the assurance of later works. 
"Stalker," "Nostalgia" and "The Sacrifice" are dramatically so coherent.

Well, that's my little rant over: I shall not be going to see any film with 
"DF" in the listings again for a very long time! Best wishes, and once again, 
many congratulations on a vital contribution to Tarkovsky studies...


Bob Hewis
Vienna, Austria

Another Tarkovsky screening in London, England: KINO KINO! hosts regular film club screenings at Ciné Lumičre, 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT (near South Kensington tube). Solaris is being screened on Tuesday March 11, at 7.30 pm. The film will be presented by David Gillespie (author of the new book Russian Cinema) and Layla Alexander-Garrett, Tarkovsky's friend and personal assistant/interpreter.

The Boston Tarkovsky retrospective has started; see our February 17 newsbrief. The Boston Phoenix carried this article.

Michael Lellouche writes from Paris, France to tell us that he and his friends have created a French-language website devoted to classic movies on DVD, from silent era through early 1980s. Michael's review of Stalker is found here.

In other news:

  • Sokurov's Russian Ark opens in France on March 26. It is the first screening there, post-Cannes.
  • We have finally established contact with Seville Pictures Canada (co-producer of Russian Ark), and they inform us that the film re-opens in Toronto on March 7th at the Varsity Cinemas. Release dates for Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg are not yet set, but should fall some time in late March/April. Stay tuned for updates.
  • Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy is being released on DVD in North American (R1/NTSC) next week. An early evaluation/analysis may be found on dvdbeaver.com: [ Blue | White | Red ]

February 26, 2003

Solaris—the Italian Edition has been released on DVD in Italy. We take the opportunity to provide you with an overview of the various problems associated with the infamous Italian theatrical version of the film. Paolo Pardo has done some research for us, and provided us with this interesting and at times shocking account which we have added to our Topics' section.

Artificial Eye's Nostalgia [sic] two-disk DVD set (which includes Tarkovsky's Tempo di viaggio and Baglivo's Tarkovsky in Nostalghia) now appears to be shipping. Note the new Nostalgia page on Artificial Eye's web site. We hope to bring you a review of this disk-set shortly.

RusCiCo reports that Mirror should arrive at their Moscow warehouse by the end of March. This reissue will contain both versions of the audio track (Dolby Digital 5.1 as well as the original mono track). They further report that Ivan's Childhood will be released in March and that it will now include subtitles in 15 languages. We recall that Artificial Eye used a (the?) RusCiCo transfer for their Ivan's disk, but it had only English subtitles. The cover art for RusCiCo's own Ivan's disk can be seen here. Thanks to Daniel Stenvall for passing this information on to us.

Gonzalo Blasco writes from Spain to inform us that his new Spanish Tarkovsky web site has reached completion. Contents include extensive reviews of the Tarkovsky student shorts, as well as essays by Mr. Blasco himself. There is also a link to a Spanish-language Tarkovsky forum. The site is Tarkovski.cjb.net. Please give him all the support you possibly can!

The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. reports that Tarkovsky's films will be making their way there in May. This includes the four restored prints: Rublov, Ivan's, Mirror, and Solaris. This upcoming Tarkovsky retrospective has not yet been added to the NGA's official programme; thanks to Charles Tyler for the advance notice.

We remind our readers in the Los Angeles area of the Tarkovsky retrospective starting this coming Friday at the Nuart Theatre [ poster ].

Kino.com has finally posted some information on their traveling Tarkovsky retrospective:

  • Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA Feb. 27- March 16
  • Nuart Theatre Los Angeles, CA Feb. 28-March 6
  • Coll. of Santa Fe Santa Fe, NM March 21-30
  • Cinematheque Cleveland, OH April 3-13
  • N.W. Film & Video Portland, OR April 11-May 1
  • National Gallery of Art Washington, DC May 5-24
  • Symphony Space New York, NY May 17-18
  • AMMI Queens, NY June 14-15

The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., is screening a Sokurov retrospective March 1 through 16 [ programme ].

We have received a nice letter from Gregory and Maria Pearse of cinemaseekers.com. They provided us with the following mini-review of RusCiCo's DVD of Parajanov's Legend of Suram Fortress. Again RusCiCo appears to display an almost unparalleled disregard for Art—an heritage of humankind. We thus end this newsbrief on the same sad note we started it on, as we quote Gergory and Maria:

"We have recently viewed the new Ruscico DVD release of Paradjanov's Legend of Suram Fortress. The picture is a huge improvement over the indifferent Kino release. However, as is usually the case with this company, there is a fatal flaw with the print they used. This print has an actor doing a Russian voice-over throughout the entire film, including the intertitles. Needless to say, there is no option to remove this. Paradjanov's incredible soundtrack is completely ruined and a grave injustice has been done to another neglected masterpiece. One is just left speechless by the total ineptness of these people. At least the picture is decent... just turn off the sound and watch it as a silent film."

February 19, 2003

We just received the following update from Charles H. de Brantes, director of the International Tarkovski Institute (Paris).


From   : Charles H. de Brantes
To     : Trond Trondsen  / www.nostalghia.com
Subject: Re.: Tarkovski
Date   : Wed Feb 19, 10:58pm +0100 


"Spirit of Fire" is the name of a new international film festival in
Siberia which I recently attended. It took place between January 25 
and February 2 and it was held in the city of Khanty-Mansiysk, 
in the autonomous region of Khanty-Mansiysk (530 000 km2 and only 2 
million inhabitants, but number 1 for petrol production in Russia). 
The festival shows only the first films of new filmmakers, and also has 
a competition for film school students from around the world.
We (Andrei Tarkovski Jr. and I) were invited because a special tribute was
organized for Tarkovski in this the first year of the festival: all his 
films were screened in new prints, and there was a photo exhibition which 
was organized by our Moscow office (we are located in Paris, Florence 
and Moscow). Many of Tarkovski's fans were present at the event.

"Hoffmanniana" (Tarkovski's screenplay) has been adapted for the stage and
will be performed in Theater de Chaillot, Paris, March 5 - 23. It is directed 
by young German director Dietrich Sagert. Special tickets are being issued for
members and friends of our Tarkovski Institute. To request tickets,
please call 0033140750282 or send email to tarkovski@wanadoo.fr.

All the best,

Charles H. de Brantes

The official 1st Spirit of Fire International Film Debut Festival web site is located here. Especially note Oleg Yankovsky's article How we shot the "inextinguishable candle" episode for Andrei Tarkovsky's film Nostalgia.

February 18, 2003

A short review (in Italian) of Luce istantanea is found here. The page contains scans of two of the Tarkovsky polaroids found in the book, and is thus well-worth a visit. Our reader Paul Whitelock of Aurora, Colorado, tells us that he managed to order the book without much difficulty via the Italian online store internetbookshop.it — with some language assistance from the babelfish [ e.g., when parsing the above bookshop page through babelfish we get this ]. The price of the book, including shipping to the U.S., is USD 45. The web site states that the item typically ships within two days of order placement. (Postscriptum: We just succeeded in placing an order at the above site. The website guides you through the process of creating an account, you then go back and add the book to your undercarriage (sic) and finally you confirm the order. It's really quite easy, and you learn Italian in the process. A highly recommended shopping experience.)

Sokurov's Russian Ark continues to take the world by storm. Its run in Japan commences in Tokyo this coming weekend; further details may be found at the official Japanese web site (use mouse pointer to pan around the scene; black sprites are clickable). In the meantime, we continue to hear a distant drumbeat heralding the imminent release of more of Sokurov's oeuvre on the DVD medium. Stay tuned.

February 17, 2003

The documentary film Out of the Present (1995) has just been released on DVD (Facets Video). This Russian-German co-production centers around the ordeals of Russian cosmonaut Sergeij Krikalev at the Mir space station in 1991. This is a fascinating movie, and in some small way it pays tribute to Tarkovsky and Solaris. For example, the film opens with a shot aboard the Russian "vomit comet" cosmonaut training plane with a drawing of a Solaris scene—a Romadin design showing Harey's hands squeezed trough the station's door—floating across the scene in the weightless environment... Also, right after showing footage of islands seen from space, the film cuts away to those last frames of Solaris. Director of Photography on this film is none other than Vadim Yusov. Thanks to Pal Virag for notifying us of this release.

We have received some more details on the book of Tarkovsky Polaroids mentioned in our October 19 newsbrief. The book is called Luce istantanea [ cover scan ] and was released in Italy in September 2002 (Edizioni Della Meridiana, Firenze. Hardcover, 225 mm x 160 mm, 135 pages). It contains Polaroid photos taken by Andrei in Russia and Italy during the period 1979 to 1984. The book's introduction is written by Tonino Guerra. Our reader Matteo Voliani, who provided us with the above scan, tells us that the book has sold very well in Italy. We hope to bring you a more extensive review if we are able to obtain a copy of the book. (Do any of our readers know of an online source of this book, with service in English? Please let us know.)

The Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, California, U.S.A., is screening Solaris on Friday March 28, at 7:30 pm, and on Sunday March 30, at 5:30 pm.

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has an upcoming retrospective of Tarkovsky's work — this on the heels of their stunning Dovzhenko retrospective. The MFA's film site is unfortunately rather poorly managed and contains no complete schedule as of yet, but Matthew Packwood has provided us with the following heads-up:

MFA Presents The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky (February 27 - March 16, 2003):

SOLARIS (1972, 167 min) February 27 @ 7:10pm; February 28 @ 7:10pm; March 1 @ 3pm

THE STEAMROLLER AND THE VIOLIN (1960, 46 min) + ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF ANDREI ARSENEVICH (documentary, 55 min) March 6 @ 6pm; March 15 @ 11am

NOSTALGHIA (1983, 126 min) March 7 @ 7:20pm

ANDREI RUBLOV (1966, 205 min) March 8 @ 10:30am; March 9 @ 2pm

THE SACRIFICE (1986, 150 min) March 8 @ 2:15pm

STALKER (1979, 163 min) March 13 @ 7:15pm; March 15 @ 2:20pm

THE MIRROR (1974, 106 min) March 14 @ 8pm; March 16 @ 3pm

IVAN'S CHILDHOOD (1962, 96 min) March 14 @ 6pm; March 16 @ 1pm

James Quandt, Senior Programme Director of the Cinematheque Ontario, informs us that that Sokurov's Russian Ark is going into wider commercial release following the Cinemateque's special run of the film (which is almost sold out in advance). This is spectacular news for all cinephile Canadians; you can now look for the film at select theatres near you.

February 10, 2003

The Killers (Criterion DVD#176, R1/NTSC) is now shipping. The two-disk set contains Siodmak's 1946 version, Tarkovsky/Gordon's 1956 version, and Siegel's 1964 version of the Hemingway short story of the same name. The films have been carefully restored, and the resulting image quality is almost beyond belief [ analysis ]. Nostalghia.com is proud to have been involved to some degree in the production of this disk set—we assisted Criterion in tracking down source material for the Tarkovsky/Gordon student short and we supplied the brief on-screen introduction to the film [ page 1 | page 2 ].

The Swedish Film Institute (Stockholm) will be screening an Alexander Sokurov retrospective this spring. 20 films/documentaries will be shown, the most complete series ever to be shown in Scandinavia [ programme ].

February 6, 2003

We have received a letter from Martin Vardanov of Parajanov.com. His letter is reproduced here with his kind permission.

From   : Martin Vardanov / www.parajanov.com
To     : Trond Trondsen  / www.nostalghia.com
Subject: Roger Ebert
Date   : Wed Jan 29,  8:21am -0800

I met Roger Ebert a few months back on Sunset Boulevard near Beverly Hills
and showed him a rare photograph of Tarkovsky with Parajanov. He recognized
Tarkovsky immediately and started telling me about a speech Tarkovsky made
at some festival where both were present. They might've met. My impression
was that he thought very highly of Andrei Tarkovsky. Disappointingly, the
famous critic didn't recognize Parajanov at all but seemed to have seen
"Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" - now, it would be very interesting to see 
if he will ever review it.  Roger Ebert was very sincere and openly admitted 
to me that he couldn't comment on "all" the Cinema masterpieces as he hadn't 
seen many of them due to the amount of new films he must review for his 
show/newspaper/books. He added that there was one person he knew that did see 
"everything": Martin Scorsese.

Martin


Director Michael Vardanov is Martin's father, and Sergei Parajanov his godfather. Vardanov, Parajanov and Tarkovsky knew each other well and met numerous times in the Soviet days. Related links: [ Tarkovsky visits Parajanov | Letter from Tarkovsky ]

There is currently a Tarkovsky Retrospective playing at the Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago. It includes all films except Solaris (which recently played at the Music Box) and Nostalghia. Chris Marker's excellent documentary is also being screened [ programme ].

We were all set to announce some rather spectacular Tarkovsky-related news from Artificial Eye, but have been asked to delay our announcement as things are still at a very preliminary stage. But, do keep a close eye on this news column — we hope to bring you more substantial news on this some time in the near future. (Now, how's that for a teaser!)

Czech web site Nostalghia.cz re-opened on January 27, 2003, at 00:01:00 Central European Time, after a month-long overhaul. The site has been thoroughly revised, and many new sections have been added. For example, there is a review of Criterion's Solaris DVD with an analysis of deleted scenes, Czech translations of deleted opening titles, Czech translation of the Kurosawa article (incidentally, the article that Nostalghia.com provided Criterion with, which earned us that mention in the DVD's booklet). The Nostalghia.cz News page is constantly being updated. Also check out their Bresson mini-site, which opened on January 25 2003.

One of the best commentaries on "slowness" in the movies is perhaps Rosenbaum's remarks on Ozu in an essay that has appeared in various places in the past, but is also found online at Senses of Cinema: Is Ozu Slow?

January 25, 2003

Nostalghia opened today at the Image Forum, Tokyo, in a new print. The film is distributed by Zazie films. See Zazie's impressive Nostalghia web site, complete with text, images and audio. Our numerous Japanese readers will also be interested to learn of a new book just released: St. Tarkovsky by Wakana Kaoru (ISBN4-88629-715-3). Kimitoshi Sato sent us this announcement (in Japanese, scroll down and to the right). We have no further details on this book at this time.

Roger Ebert, the only motion picture critic to have won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism [ bio ], submitted the following in response to the issues discussed in our January 21 newsbrief:

From: Roger Ebert
To: Nostalghia.com
Subject: Re.: Solaris Review
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 13:22:31 -0500


Film for 100 years has been about an eye to the audience and a desire to
please. So have theater and music, for 2000 years. One can of course be
pleased at a higher level, but Tarkovsky's fault as an artist was complete
indifference to his audience.

Best,
RE

Mr. Ebert has said before, in a different forum, that he has indeed read Tarkovsky's book Sculpting in Time. We therefore find it quite puzzling that he would make such a statement. Because, Tarkovsky was not at all indifferent to his audience. The following three quotes come to mind.

From Sculpting in Time:

I have to admit that even when professional critics praised my work I was often left unsatisfied by their ideas and comments—at least, I quite often had the feeling that these critics were either indifferent to my work or else not competent to criticise: so often they would use well-worn phrases taken from current cinema journalese instead of talking about the film's direct, intimate effect on the audience. But then I would meet people on whom my film had made an impression, or I would receive letters from them which read like a kind of confession about their lives, and I would understand what I was working for. I would be conscious of my vocation: duty and responsibility towards people, if you like. (I could never really believe that any artist could work only for himself, if he knew that what he was doing would never be needed by anybody. [...]).

From Tarkovsky in Italy:

There are two basic categories of film directors. One consists of those who seek to imitate the world in which they live, the other of those who seek to create their own world. The second category contains the poets of cinema, Bresson, Dovzenko, Mizoguchi, Bergman, Buñuel and Kurosawa, the cinema's most important names. The work of these film-makers is difficult to distribute: it reflects their inner aspirations, and this always runs counter to public taste. This does not mean that the film-makers don't want to be understood by their audience. But rather that they themselves try to pick up on and understand the inner feelings of the audience.

Taken from The Tolstoy Complex, the following is based on mimeograph notes of statements made by Tarkovsky at the Telluride Film Festival on September 3, 1983.

If we want to write a poem we only need a pencil and a piece of paper. The painter can work alone in front of his canvas only. A book is a book even if it remains unpublished. Franz Kafka did not publish anything during his lifetime. Johann Sebastian Bach was—compared to his son—practically unknown. But all of his works have been preserved on paper. But one cannot create a film alone. In order to make a film one first of all must secure the funding. Perhaps it's true that cinema was born to serve as entertainment. But it's not true that cinema is entertainment. Cinema is a highly poetic form of art. [...] Cinema is a great art. But it won't reach its heights as long as realisation of film depends on money and as long as money decides whether the film is made or not.

Nostalghia.com is proud to be a founding member of mastersofcinema.org. Our project (albeit still in its infancy) is intended to pay tribute to four truly great artists, viz., Robert Bresson, Carl Th. Dreyer, Ozu Yasujiro, and Andrei Tarkovsky. Some will no doubt dismiss these as men who were indifferent towards their audiences. We however consider them men of impeccable artistic integrity—Gentlemen who remained true to their own convictions. We ask for your contributions of relevant materials, suggestions, and for your general support as we proceed in our endeavors.

January 22, 2003

A brief follow-up to yesterday's column:

Our alert readers were quick to inform us that Roger Ebert actually has reviewed an additional Tarkovsky film, namely The Sacrifice. The review is, in our mind, not particularly well-written, but you may wish to check for yourself.

Another reader called our attention to the fact that Jonathan Rosenbaum in his review of Tran Anh Hung's excellent movie Cyclo also mentions the name of Harvey Weinstein, but not in a positive light:

[...] And at Cannes this year an even more prominent critic from the New York Times told me she thought Harvey Weinstein would have "improved" Dead Man if Jim Jarmusch had allowed him to recut the picture. I think it's obscene to grant critical approval to any distributor who proceeds in this fashion [...]

Since Roger Ebert appeared unwilling to comment further on his own Weinstein remark, we thought it reasonable to ask Jonathan Rosenbaum to comment on it instead. Mr. Rosenbaum had not yet had occasion to read Ebert's review in full, but promptly provided us with the following while on his way to the airport:

From: Jonathan Rosenbaum
To: Nostalghia.com
Subject: Tarkovsky/Weinstein
Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2003 13:47:42 -0600


It's too bad.  I suspect that Roger may live  to  regret  having  made
such  a statement, though maybe I'm wrong in supposing this.  I wonder
how Roger would feel about  Weinstein  recutting  his  favorite  Woody
Allen and Spike Lee movies.

> "And at Cannes this year an even more prominent critic  from  the  New
> York  Times told me she thought Harvey Weinstein would have "improved"
> Dead Man if Jim Jarmusch had allowed him  to  recut  the  picture.   I
> think  it's  obscene to grant critical approval to any distributor who
> proceeds in this fashion."

That was Janet  Maslin  I  was  referring  to,  by  the  way.   As  an
expression  of artistic and journalistic corruption, I think it speaks
for itself.  If Roger said something similar about Tarkovsky's work, I
can  only  say  I  deeply  regret  it.   But  I  also realize that the
mainstream valorizing of Weinstein that's  been  going  on  for  years
makes  such  a  conclusion  logical  and  unsurprising.   Furthermore,
without suggesting any conspiracy theory, I don't think the fact  that
Disney  produces  Roger's  TV  show  is  entirely irrelevant to such a
conclusion — especially  because  Miramax,  owned  by  Disney, already
determines which of the films it controls that Roger can review on the
show by deciding what clips to make available.

                                                                    JR



Mr. Rosenbaum also touches upon some of these points in his book Movie Wars. Tarkovsky-related Rosenbaum film reviews accessible online: [ One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich | In Space, No One Can Hear You Sweat ]

January 21, 2003

Chicago Sun-Times, January 19, 2003: Roger Ebert publishes what is (to the best of our knowledge) his first ever review of a Tarkovsky movie: Tarkovsky's Solaris. The author, in an otherwise thoughtful and well-written review, finds fault with Tarkovsky's work and (surprisingly) suggests that Harvey Weinstein et al. might have been able to improve upon things... by the use of scissors. Mr. Ebert did not return our request for further clarification. For the record, we do not consider Tarkovsky's oeuvre to be perfect—Tarkovsky himself would be the first to admit so—but we hardly consider Mr. Weinstein (however sensitive a soul he may be) even remotely qualified to improve upon Tarkovsky's work. We pause for a moment, and reflect upon what Andrei said in 1973 about the then recent Cannes Film Festival:

    Interviewer: You took your film to Cannes. What did you think about the other films that were shown there?

    Tarkovsky: I was astonished by how low the standard was. I don't understand. On the one hand everything I saw was highly professional, on the other it was utterly commercial. For example, they would treat a subject that was bound to be of concern to everybody: the problem of the working-class movement, or the relationship between the working-class and other sections of the population. And all of it was done with such an eye to the audience, with such a desire to please... One really had the impression that all the films had been edited by one and the same person. But in film the most important thing of all is to be aware of the inner rhythm. So, what can only be individual had become commonplace, hackneyed. It is extraordinary. Even Fellini's film about Rome, the most interesting film of all—it was shown outside the festival proper—is a sort of game of give-away played with the audience, the editorial rhythm is so slick that one feels offended on behalf of Fellini. I remember pictures of his where the shots, the length of the shots, and their rhythm, were tied to the inner state of the character and the author. But this picture has been made with an eye for what is going to please the audience. I find that repugnant. Anyhow, the film tells us nothing new either about Fellini himself or about life. [ more ]

... let us also take this opportunity to recommend a visit to the excellent Long Pauses.

Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris opens at the Music Box Theatre, Chicago, on Friday January 24. It is the new 35 mm print that is being shown; see our November 25 and December 11 news columns.

Olga Surkova has recently released a new book, Tarkovskiy i ya (Tarkovsky and I). Olga was a friend of Tarkovsky's for 20 years, and his personal assistant while compiling the material that later became Sculpting In Time. Tarkovsky and I contains anecdotes and personal observations made by Ms. Surkova during their long friendship. The book is written in Russian, but we hope that an English translation will emerge eventually. [Full reference: Tarkovskiy i ya. Dnevnik pionerki. Publishing House: Zebra E, Dekont +, EKSMO 2002.  96 pages. ISBN 5-89535-027-5]

The Fifth School of Sound Symposium will be held in London from the 23rd to the 26th of April 2003 [ read more ]. Among the invited speakers is Mark Rance, who was responsible for the Criterion Edition of Andrei Rublov [ more ].

January 15, 2003

It appears that copies of Artificial Eye's Mirror DVD shipped by play.com as early as December 20 actually contain the 5.1 upmix as well as the original mono soundtrack. This suggests that online ordering of the title is now fairly safe. Thanks to Gerd Syllwasschy for letting us know.

Several interesting seminars will be held at the 26th Göteborg Film Festival (January 24 to February 3) [ programme ]. We note a Tarkovsky seminar on January 25 (with emphasis on general appreciation, Mirror and Nostalghia) and a Sokurov seminar on January 31 (with emphasis on the single-take Russian Ark).

After attending a screening of Russian Ark at the Nuart Theatre last night, our Los Angeles correspondent Doug Cummings discovered that the Nuart (West Los Angeles) will be hosting a Tarkovsky retrospective shortly, screening the following Kino-distributed titles:

  • Ivan's Childhood (new 35 mm print): Wednesday, March 5 - Thursday, March 6
  • Andrei Rublov (new 35 mm print, "director's cut"): Friday, February 28 to Sunday March 2
  • Mirror (new 35 mm print): Wednesday, March 5 - Thursday, March 6
  • Stalker: Tuesday, March 4
  • The Sacrifice: Monday, March 3

Nostalghia.com reader James Macgillivray has an article out in the current issue of Canadian Journal of Film Studies, called Andrei Tarkovsky's Madonna del Parto [ abstract ]. We hope to post the article in its entirety very shortly.

Further to our November 21 news item on the distribution rights for Ozu Yasujiro's titles in North America, we have learned that Criterion has acquired the rights to several of Ozu's films. Among the Ozu films slated for DVD release in 2003 and 2004 are Floating Weeds, Early Summer, and Tokyo Story. Criterion's website states that the first titles are scheduled for release in the fall of this year. Further, the theatrical retrospective currently traveling the world [ see ozuyasujiro.com ] is scheduled to hit North America as part of the 2003 New York Film Festival, October 5 to November 6.

Finally, as reported on robert-bresson.com, future Criterion DVD releases of Au Hasard Balthazar and Mouchette are all but confirmed. We think.

January 11, 2003

The Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, is running a mini-retrospective of Tarkovsky from January 31 to February 24. They are screening Ivan's Childhood, Andrei Rublov (the 205 minute version), Mirror, Stalker, and The Sacrifice. Thanks to Gregory "Frodo" Runfeldt for notifying us of the upcoming event.

The following letter from one of our readers touches upon a widespread technical DVD "annoyance" that is not limited to any particular DVD, studio, or company. These issues have, to the best of our knowledge, hardly ever been discussed in the various printed or online fora. So, we bring it to you attention...

    Re: the Criterion Solaris, which I just viewed. Picture quality is no doubt superb; however, why does there seem to be a "splice" separating virtually every single shot in the film? The original Image Entertainment laserdisc was also this way, and I've also noticed this phenomenon on other films — most notably, for some reason, older Japanese films of, say, early 60's Toho.

    The net effect is that a "bump" occurs on virtually every single "shot transition." In a film like Tarkovsky's, with its dreamlike pace, this becomes extremely maddening and — at least for this viewer — interferes with the enjoyment of the film (I have not checked to see if the Ruscico version has this flaw).

    Clearly, these "splices" must be on the source print — I'm just surprised that with all the attention paid to digital restoration, that this is one flaw not corrected. Has anyone else noticed? By the way, I've also noticed a trend in digitally restored films wherein, often, the image will "freeze" for one frame just before the cut — creating a similar "bump." I wonder if these phenomena are related? Perhaps this latter a failed attempt at digitally correcting splices? Films on DVD that spring to mind where I've noticed: Rififi, Discreet Charm, Night of the Living Dead.

    [...] [People] I've watched films with usually don't notice at first — arguably, it's on the subtle side. But, once I point it out, they simply can't stop noticing; it's a pretty flagrant flaw once you know it's there.

We have also noticed these artifacts and do indeed find them highly distracting at times. A film director we asked indicated that if a film bounces at every cut, it is clearly a fault not with a print, but with the negative or the original transfer that was made from the negative since no other print would have all these splices. Could a duplicated frame before or after every cut be an attempt to rectify this hard-to-fix problem? We would like to hear from our technically inclined readers, and we shall post a summary of any responses received.

We have still not been able to conclusively confirm or dismiss the suggested problem with the A.E. Sacrifice disc (see December 2, 2002). A comparison of the documentary disc (which contains clips from the movie) and the movie disc itself does however suggest an anomaly as the subtle horizontal lines/doublings seen by some in the movie do not appear in the same movie fragment as seen on the documentary disc. The A.E. disc is however still highly recommended as the best Sacrifice disk currently available. If an encoding problem is confirmed down the road, we are quite confident that A.E. would offer an exchange, as they are doing in the case of the Mirror disk. Steffen Bieker has provided us with two additional graphics [ slide 1 | slide 2 ] that highlight these issues which are seen in progressive scan mode. We will (a) show these to A.E. and (b) keep you posted in our News section.

January 7, 2003

We asked Artificial Eye to comment on the idea of putting a sticker on the cover of their Mirror re-issue (see January 4 news item). We also asked about the current status of the A.E. Nostalghia two-disk set, originally scheduled for release on January 27 (see November 20 news item). As usual, we received a prompt and informative response:

From: Steven Lewis / Artificial Eye
To: Nostalghia.com
Subject: Mirror/Nostalghia
Date: Tue Jan  7,  5:16pm +0000

Dear Trond,

That's a very good point! We certainly will be affixing stickers to
subsequent 'Mirror' DVDs to ease confusion. Most DVDs of the old version
have been sold so we haven't done a recall, but our offer of exchanging the
old version for the new will continue to stand. The new discs did take
rather longer to produce than anticipated but were sent out at the end of
last week.

We ran into a small problem with Nostalgia - I was unable to get hold of 
a subtitled copy of Tempo di Viaggio, so we had to get the film
translated from scratch. As it's a bit of a jumble of Russian and Italian,
it has taken a little while to do and has unfortunately pushed the release
date back to 24th February. [...] 

Best regards,

Steve 

January 4, 2003

The re-issue of Artificial Eye's Mirror DVD (RusCiCo) is now finally shipping. For the full context, see our October 18, 2002 news column. If you have not yet returned your defective disc for a replacement, we encourage you to do so. Send it to Artificial Eye Film Co Ltd, 14 King Street, London WC2E 8HR, England / Att.: Steve Lewis.

Nick Wrigley has just received his replacement disc from AE, and is very happy with it:

From: Nick Wrigley
To: Nostalghia.com
Subject: AE/RusCiCo MIRROR
Date: Sat, 4 Jan 2003

I got the replacement MIRROR DVD today from Artificial Eye! [ letter ]
The first version (and the Ruscico version) didn't have the original mono 
soundtrack. Instead they just had a terrible 5.1 "mix" which featured 
newly recorded sound, added reverb on the narrator, and a host of other 
grievances.

It came unsealed, and looked like maybe they'd just put a disc in the 
box that I'd sent them. I can't see anything on the packaging or the 
disc that makes it stand out as the new version, and I don't have my 
older disc of course so I can't compare the catalogue number etc.

I've slammed the disc in, and now when you press PLAY FILM, you get a 
screen like you do in IVANS which asks if you want Russian 5.1 or 
ORIGINAL MONO.

I have watched the first ten mins and flicked between the two. Now when 
the wind blows the field as Solonitsyn walks away it sounds like I 
always remember from VHS and Kino's DVD.... instead of the false 
over-the-top wind noises on the 5.1 "mix". Also, the narrator's poems 
sound normal now (without the horrible reverb that was added to the 5.1 
"mix").


Nick

So, for the record, how do you know whether or not you have the kosher version of Mirror? We have done the research for you...

  • As we have just heard, the packaging is the same (although, we hope AE will decide to slap some informative sticker on the cover of the reissued version).
  • The label sides of the discs are identical as well. In both cases it looks like this: [ scan of label side ]. Note the identifier "ART 020".
  • Currently, the only way of identifying which version you have appears to be through the information etched into the inner hub of the disk's rear (shiny) side. Both issues contain the identifier "ART 020", but here with a qualifier. The original (i.e., bad) issue has "ART 020 00" engraved, while the re-issue is fully qualified as "ART 020 10". The following is a scan of the hub area of the optical data side of the re-issue: [ scan of optical data side ].
Unless Artificial Eye decides to clearly label the packaging with a sticker ("New! Now featuring director-approved soundtrack."), we recommend that you politely request the store manager to remove the shrinkwrap and carefully peel away the various security seals so as to let you inspect the disc itself. Make absolutely sure it reads "ART 020 10" at the hub. The numbers are hard to read; proper lighting and a patient store manager are considered essentials. If you order through an online retailer and receive the wrong version, simply return the faulty disk directly to Artificial Eye (address above) for your free replacement. It couldn't be easier!

January 3, 2003

As a follow-up to our January 1 news item on the short-film Nu (Now), the director has sent us three additional photos taken on the set of the movie, all featuring Erland Josephson: [ I | II | III ]. We noticed the camera in the first of these photos and asked Simon for the lowdown on what equipment was used during shooting. In his reply, he makes some rather interesting comments on the issue of color vs. black-and-white, quoting Andrei Tarkovsky. So we reproduce his letter here, with his kind permission:


From: Simon Staho
To: Nostalghia.com
Subject: Re. Erland Josephson
Date: Fri, 3 Jan 2003 18:50:16 +0100



The camera is an Aaton 16mm camera.  The film was shot on Super-16mm
film.  The film stock we used was Kodak Vision 250D.  This is a color
stock so - since the film was supposed to be a black/white film - the
colour was removed in the lab when we telecined it to digibeta.  Kodak
Vision 250D is a very good film stock to use for 16mm since it is very
sharp.  The reason for using color stock in the first place is simply
(and regrettably) that high-quality black/white film stock for this
type of film is no longer available.

The lack of good black/white film stock is quite unfortunate, I think
- not least considering the quote on your website by Tarkovsky on the
subject of colour:

     Colour films seemed more realistic at their dawn but now
     they are in a blind alley.  Colour cinema is a great
     mistake.  All forms of art aim at truth and then seek a
     generalization, a model idea.  But truth in life does not
     correspond to truth in art.  Colour is part of our
     physiological and psychological perception of the external
     world.  We live in a coloured world, but don't realize that
     unless something makes us aware of it.  We don't think of
     colour while looking at this coloured world.  But when
     shooting a colour scene we organize it and close it up in a
     frame that we force upon the audience and we give them
     thousands of such colour postcards.  To me, black and white
     is more expressive and realistic because it does not
     distract the spectator but but enables him to concentrate on
     the essence of the film.  I think colour made the
     cinematographic art more false, and less true.

The sound is in Dolby Digital (SRD).  The aspect ratio is 1.78:1.  The
printed film format is 35 mm.  The cinematographic process is
anamorphic.  The film was processed at FilmTeknik in Stockholm and was
transferred to film at Zentropa Productions in Copenhagen.  Zentropa
is, incidentally, the company owned by Lars von Trier and the place
where Breaking The Waves, The Kingdom and Dancer In The Dark
were produced.

I once again want to thank you and your collaborators for a wonderful
website that must inspire filmmakers and cinephiles everywhere.

All the best,
Simon

We were so inspired by the above somewhat provocative Tarkovsky quote that we decided to add a new page to the website [ Tarkovsky on color vs. black-and-white ].

In other news...:

  • Ozu Yasujiro was born in 1903. To celebrate this important but largely ignored centenary, ozuyasujiro.com has posted the wonderful, but long-since out of print, compact disc A Memorial Album of Ozu Yasujiro in its entirety in mp3 format. What a stellar idea, Nick! The Tokyo Story track makes us weep.
  • The News' Section of robert-bresson.com is slowly coming to life. The site as a whole is still a mere placeholder and will be redesigned completely.

January 1, 2003

We wish all our readers a Very Happy New Year!

Our correspondent in Ivanovo Russia, Eugene Borzov, reports that on December 11-17, 2002, the 8th International Human Rights Film Festival Stalker was held in Moscow. A new film by Nina Shorina, called Ivan—Chai, was presented at the opening session of the Festival. Pigweed is perhaps the best English translation of the title, a type of grass widespread in Russia, particularly in deserted/barren places, in the wastelands. The film is about "Andrey's deserted house" (nothing is said in the announcement on exactly what house is meant by this). For more info about the Stalkerfest, see [ link 1 | link 2 ] (both in Russian).

We have received an interesting letter from film director Simon Staho of Denmark:

From: Simon Staho
To: Nostalghia.com
Subject: Erland Josephson
Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 13:23:03 +0100



Dear Nostalghia.com!

I noticed that you had an item on your website concerning Erland
Josephson and his play En natt i den svenska sommaren (A Night in the
Swedish Summer).

I thought you might be interested to know that I have just directed a
Danish/Swedish film with Erland Josephson entitled Nu (Now).  The
film is 30 minutes long, was shot in black/white and contains only
three lines of dialogue - all of them said by Erland.  The story
recounts - through the recollections of an old man lying on his death
bed in 2002 - a love triangle in 1960 which changed his life forever.

Besides Erland, the film stars Elin Klinga (who has appeared in
several stage plays directed by Ingmar Bergman - and who incidentally
met Andrey Tarkovsky during the casting of The Sacrifice), Mikael
Persbrandt and the two Danish actors Mads Mikkelsen and Henning
Moritzen.  The last time Erland and Henning appeared in a film
together was in Ingmar Bergman's Cries And Whispers in 1972!

I enclose a private picture of Erland and Henning (taken during the
filming of Nu) — and some stills from the film [I | II ].  You are of course
free to use them on your (very enjoyable and informative) website if
you wish.

Incidentally, Nu premieres at the Göteborg International Film
Festival, held between January 24th and February 3rd 2003.

All the best,
Simon Staho

Simon, please keep us posted on how the premiere goes and on any future screening dates. Being obsessed with large images, we are more than happy to present to our readers full-size versions of Simon's beautiful (and at times almost Tarkovskyesque) stills: [ Erland/Henning | I | II | III | IV ]

Although not our cup of tea, we bring you this for completeness: Ukranian computer game designer Sergiy Grygorovych states, in a recent interview: "Undeniably we were inspired by the movie Stalker when working out the plot of the game. In fact, [the game] is a fusion of the movie and two other things - The Roadside Picnic, a book by the Strugatsky brothers, and the history of the Chernobyl catastrophe." The game is called Stalker: Oblivion Lost and its web site is www.stalker-game.com. Whether or not they are licensed by Mosfilm or the Strugatskys is not known.  end block


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