French director Chris Marker's affectionate portrait of his friend, the late Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, is a deft mixture of the artist and his art: a portrait of a great filmmaker who died long before his time, and an accessible survey of films that have both beguiled and confounded audiences the world over. Marker opens the film with a moving moment from the final months of the director's life. For the first time since defecting from the Soviet Union, Tarkovsky, who, at the age of 54, was dying of cancer, is briefly reunited with his mother and son. From there, Marker and his narrator (Alexandra Stewart, who also provided the English-language voiceover for Marker's SANS SOLEIL) enter the world of Tarkovsky's films, exploring the shots, motifs and themes that recur with astonishing regularity from his first student film (an intriguing adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's short story "The Killers") to his very last masterpiece (THE SACRIFICE): art as a mirror in which man must measure himself, beauty as the keystone of faith, and Tarkovsky's innate belief that film belongs on the same level as the most exalted art form. Marker also includes fascinating footage of Tarkovsky directing the last great sequence of his life the stunning six-minute take that comes at the end of THE SACRIFICE in which the hero makes good on his promise to God and reveals a master craftsman, shadowed by death and smiling under extraordinary pressure. Originally presented as part of the French television series Film in Our Time, Marker's film was shot on video, a medium that does scant justice to images that rank among the most beautiful in all of cinema. But the precis of Tarkovsky's career, the elucidation of his often opaque films, and the intimate portrait of a surprisingly affable figure make this hour-long film the perfect introduction to a remarkable career, and a moving memorial to a remarkable filmmaker.
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- Released: 1999
- Rating: NR
- Review: French director Chris Marker's affectionate portrait of his friend, the late Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, is a deft mixture of the artist and his art: a portrait of a great filmmaker who died long before his time, and an accessible survey of films th… (more)