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98 of 100 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2002
Tarkovsky's "Nostalghia" is, simply put, my favorite film of all time. I know that may sound trite, but it really is true. No other film I've encountered has been so completely lyrical, magical, poetic and deeply human all at the same time. Tarkovsky has created not just a movie, but a work of art that borders on a spiritual experience.
To me "Nostalghia" is about dreams and memory and how they reflect our private longing for "home." The way we carry that sense of place, of where we've been and the people we've loved, with us in our feelings. How in that sense, home and people still live on in our feelings no matter what "strange land" we may find ourselves in. And how that apparent distance, not only in space but in time, gives rise to the most intense and personal feelings of nostalgia.
Technically it's the story of a Russian poet's journey through Italy on a mission to trace the path of a famous Russian composer (Sosnovsky) and to perhaps come to understand why the composer had chosen to return to Russia to die, even though he'd been exiled from there years before. The poet's journey to find Sosnovsky though is more about his own journey to find himself, or a sense of something, a return to the "home" he too carries in his feelings and inhabits his dreams. Along the way he meets a madman and through their mutual understanding is given a small-yet-monumental task of redemption to complete.
There are many layers to the film, some ambiguous at best, some clearly laced with metaphor and meaning. There are also many strikingly poetic moments, often without anything being said, and beautiful transitions between waking (color) and dreaming (b&w) which magically blur the boundaries between the two.
It is a stunning film when one considers that all this was done without any of the digital special-effects found in most movies today. Many cinematic shots that could well be paintings by old masters like Vermeer or Rembrandt (the still of the dresser in his hotel room before he falls asleep, the mantel in the madman's room before he's given the candle) and some that are optical illusions so convincingly composed one can't help but stare in awe. Andrei Tarkovsky was truly a master of his craft.
Tarkovsky's lessons about "redemption through small yet meaningful gestures" is something worth considering in our self-aggrandized culture and it's ever-increasing pace. As is his "madman's" edict that in order to go forward we must first return to the place in the road where we went the wrong way and make it right, demonstrates that so-called madmen are perhaps not really so crazy after all. And the end of the world, after all, comes to each of us in turn.
Admittedly, the pace is glacial. So if you are unfortunate enough to have a short attention span, you'll probably not understand or appreciate this film. To you I wish all the best in your search for those elusive moments of meaning and subtle beauty happening all around you, all the time.
As for the rest of you, what are you waiting for?! See this movie and witness poetry in slow-motion. It's like dreaming with your eyes open.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2000
I first saw this film about three years ago on an extreemly worn out VHS copy from my local video store.It was the only Tarkovsky they had so I hired it out, unfortunately the picture and sound quality were terrible which was a shame because it is one of the most beautiful films i have ever seen.The thing about Tarkovsky that many people may find difficult is the pace(darn slow) and the commitment the veiwer may feel he or she is asked to give to the film.I think the common mistake people make is that they think Tarkovsky is intellectual and obscure.His films are about feelings and spirituality(sorry an over used word regarding his work) or the lack of it in modern life: rather than the difficult and earnest ideas many people associate with Tarkovsky.Nostalghia is slow, and i admit that i found this rather frustrating at first but after a while i began to appreciate each image and the the held shots that appear more like paintigs than cinema.Its the sort of film that you need to watch rather than talk about.its sometimes hard to explain exactly what you have seen or indeed heard as Tarkovskys films are so much to do with the senses.If you appreciate misty brooding landscapes and ancient crumbling italian architecture then this film may be for you.Its a shame that in our modern and slightly sterile existence we feel we have less time to just look and feel.Instead ridiculously overblown storys and images are shown to us so fast that there is little time to judge the quality or morality of what we look at.Special effects alone don't make a film (I dont need to mention names): its probably the things that people don't even notice like sound, colour, and editing.But Tarkovsky did and it shows.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2003
Andrei Tarkovsky's NOSTALGHIA - like all of his amazing films - is filled with masterfully drawn images that simultaneously make the heart ache and lift it up to the heavens. Literally hundreds of potential paintings lie within its frames. But, beyond the visual, deeper than any of these, lies the heart of his work - and it touches the very soul of the viewer with the hands of a craftsman and seeker.
Each of the three main characters - Andrei Gortchakov, a Russian poet (Oleg Yankovsky); his beautiful Italian interpreter, Eugenia (Domiziana Giordano); and a local eccentric, Domenico (Erland Josephson) - is attempting, consciously or instinctively, to fill a void in their life.
Gortchakov, in Italy to research the life of an 18th century Russian composer, is suffering terribly from homesickness - his thoughts and dreams often turn to his wife and home. His interpreter makes romantic advances toward him - but he's so fixated on his wife that he doesn't even realize what she's doing. When it occurs to him - she makes it pretty obvious, baring a breast to him in his hotel room and asking `Is this what you want...?' - he's visibly staggered, but remains sympathetic and caring towards her. The parallels between his life and that of his subject are many - and as the film progresses, he seems to become increasingly aware of them. This realization leaves him feeling emptier still - and this could be a big factor in his acceptance of the task assigned to him by the madman Domenico. In fulfilling his promise, Gortchakov is perhaps the most successful of the three characters in his quest to fill the unnamed void within him.
Domenico bears a great guilt. Long considered to be mad, many years in the past he sequestered his wife and children within their home in a desperate attempt to protect them from what he saw as the imminent end of the world. Suspicious neighbors alerted the authorities, who broke down the door and freed the family, who had not been outside for seven years. In one of the most heart-wrenching scenes ever committed to film, we see Domenico, addled, gingerly pursuing his young son down a pathway. The guilt that Domenico feels over this episode weighs heavily upon his shoulders for the rest of his life. In a symbolic act of contrition, he attempts to carry a lighted candle across a pool - a seemingly simple task, made difficult by the heat rising from the waters and the air currents. His neighbors, considering him to be unstable, think he's about to drown himself, and prevent him from completing the act. When he meets Gortchakov - perhaps because he senses the emptiness in the soul of the poet - he asks him to accomplish this for him. By giving the Russian the task of conveying the candle across the pool, he frees himself of his own promise, allowing him to move on to what he sees as the ultimate act of repentance - and at the same time, gifts the opportunity to the poet to commit a holy act by fulfilling a promise, which allows Gortchkov the chance to free his own aching spirit.
Eugenia, the translator, has the least understanding of her own needs. She, too, feels a void in her life - but she seems to think that she can fill it sexually, by `finding the right man'. When Gortchakov rebuffs her advances, she abandons him and takes off to Rome, to another man. We see this man only once in the film - while she talks on the phone to Gortchakov - and he seems distant, regarding her coolly, if at all. It's easy to surmise that this is just one more fruitless, unfulfilling stop on her quest.
Visually, Tarkovsky has done his usual, unequalled best in committing his ideas and ideals to film. His work - here and in all of his films - is, I've come to believe, without peer. From the opening images of the fog-shrouded Italian countryside - to the stunningly beautiful photography inside the church, candle-lit - to the hotel - to the spa - every scene has the ability to take the viewer's breath away, and, more importantly, to make the viewer think. Tarkovsky's views of how humans are isolated from each other - and from themselves - by the technology and the cities we have built is underscored by the scene in Rome, where Domenico has traveled for a `demonstration', to air his views and give his public confession. He is positioned atop a statue, high above a piazza - the camera angle reveals a wide, low-angled set of marble steps. One would perhaps expect to see a milling throng on these steps - but Tarkovsky instead places only a dozen or so people there. The space between them, in this wide expanse of marble and edifice, simply and eloquently underscores the theme of human isolation.
NOSTALGHIA - like all of Tarkovsky's work - is a film that should be viewed multiple times. Each viewing will reveal new discoveries and insights. His work is visionary.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2006
This is Tarkovsky's most underrated film. It is also his most beautiful, with some of the greatest cinemtography ever committed to celluloid (Giuesppe Lanci was the cinematographer). The film concerns itself with a Russian coming to Italy to research on a Russian composer who died there. As others have pointed out, the word "Nostalghia" is the Italian pronuciation, and the film is about nostalghia for one's homeland, specifically Russian nostlaghia. Tarkovsky has said that Russians, more than other nationalities, miss their homeland more than others, and have a hard time assimiliating in other lands. This film gives you one amazing shot after another. Some of the shots are truly amazing. The most famous shot here in where Andrei carries a candle across the pool, believing that if he makes it without the candle going out, he will save mankind. They rehearsed this shot for 3 days, and on the 4th day they shot it. Tarkovsky told Oleg Jankovsky (the lead actor) "one action can be experienced as if it is your whole life", then told him "we've only got one take". They completed in one take, after which the crew burst out into appaulse. This film is a deeply spirtual film, like all Tarkovsky, and it's one of his most meditative films. A must see for anyone who takes cinema seriously....
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2007
This Korean DVD (with the silver frame around the image on the front of the case) is, beyond a reasonable doubt, identical to the Fox Lorber disk: The video release trailer that is included states ". . . from Fox Lorber". The picture is great, although the audio track has a tiny bit of crackle and pop, apparently from the source material used. This is a much better-looking transfer than Kino's "Zerkalo" or "Offret", and better than Kino's/Ruscico's "Stalker". Also, please note that the AR is NOT 4:3 or full-frame as stated above and on the DVD case. It is widescreen and, I assume, the correct aspect ratio.

I won't attempt to praise or critique the film itself: If you're going to buy it, you KNOW what it is!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 1999
I have noticed that everyone that really loves this and Tarkovksy's other movies heavily concentrates on cinematography, art, direction and all the other sfuff that people don't care about. This movie is usually recommended for art lovers and delicate fans of true cinema. It shouldn't be that way. Nostalghia is for all of us. At least for those who have souls and just a little bit human. Our lives after childhood is one big nostalgia. Nostalgia for love, for warmth and for people who are gone. I always cry at the last shot of the film; I don't know why; maybe you should cry, too.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2000
Watching Tarkovsky's films is analogous to reading James Joyce,It takes a lot of time, a lot of thought, and a puzzle enthusiast whobelieves in puzzles for their own sake, regardless of whether the completed whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Nostalghia is full of oblique and blatant metaphor and piecing together the meditations on faith vs.(statuesque)imprisonment, self vs. other, and God's relationship with the lost is worth however many viewings it takes. Tarkovsky's masterful visuals, as always, are a given, so the mental challenge of the film is tempered with gorgeous compositions. The final shot surpasses even the shocking final frame of "Solaris", not only in metaphorical significance, but in beauty as well. Yet these images are neither "for their own sake", nor self indulgent; each and every slowly unfolding sequence and lingering shot has layers of significance. I have learned, there is no "filler" in Tarkovsky's films, each image is a line in the greater poem, and like Joyce's writing, as terse and sometimes as difficult as this master director deems fit to carry the wieght of his brilliance. Nostalghia, like the seemingly incoherent proverbs of Zen Buddhism, can simply befuddle, or, as is their true intent for the prepared, bring Enlightenment. Nostalghia, is capable of both. END
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2003
This film to me is the purest example of film poetry I have ever seen. It does not exist on the level of plot, and yet every image is so suggestive of things beyond or beneath the surface that the only thing comparable to it is a profoundly meaningful and haunting dream.
Tarkovsky was tormented by his Soviet-enforced exile from his homeland Russia at the time he made this masterpiece, and the nostalgia he felt was more than for his own home - it was a nostalgia for the spiritual world that is absent in so much of modern life. It is supremely ironic he and his main character - a bitter Russian writer - felt nostalgia for the spirit in one of the most "spiritual" places on earth - Italy. And yet it is frighteningly appropriate today.
There is none of the borrowing from other mediums - whether literature, theater or painting - that is common with other so-called art films. This film is the purest cinema that can exist, because everything is done as an image from reality - a reality that exists in the character's own world, and is transfered to the viewer's by means of the most intense visual imagination.
The actors are so perfect in their roles that they do not seem to be acting at all. That is always a hallmark of Tarkovsky's films - utter realism of human behavior, without the slightest trace of fakery.
Ingmar Bergman called this master of cinema the greatest of all filmmakers, and this is probably his greatest film. It is essential to anyone interested in the medium.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 1999
Nostalghia is a beautiful film. Its slow, contemplative rhythm allows the viewer to take in the stunning images that often work like paintings rather than plot devices. It is a film for viewers looking for a dream-like experience. Ordinary objects and events are given a mystical quality with seemingly no effort; a new perspective of the world is subtly created. It is best approached as a work of art rather than with the usual lowered expectations of recent cinema. I would say it's one of Tarkovsky's best films, but really all of them are great. The DVD version looks really good and is thankfully letterboxed.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2014
Tarkovsky's film speaks for itself. This review is more about Kino's blu-ray treatment.

Please allow me to preface this by stating that I found Kino's BD transfer of "The Sacrifice" to be lousy overall, and I would rate it much lower than the generous 3.5/5.00 that Blu-ray.com gave it. Unacceptable lack of clarity and detail. However, unlike that transfer, which was heavily manipulated with DNR and edge enhancement (Kino claims otherwise, but DVDBeaver has close-ups proving edge-enhancement halos), their transfer for "Nostalghia" appears to be untouched. It is rife with damage - scratches, dirt, dust, pops, etc. Almost non-stop. The print is cluttered from start to finish. It is clear that no restoration of any kind was done for this release, which is an absolute travesty when you consider the significance of the filmmaker. While the source material certainly limits it somewhat, the quality of the audio is even worse. Did I mention there are NO supplements? At this price point, that's inexcusable.

I traded my copy to a local McKays and will wait patiently and optimistically that a better distributor will one day purchase the rights and give this film the proper treatment. If you think I'm being too harsh, watch Criterion's immaculate blu-ray of "Ivan's Childhood", made 20 years before "Nostalghia".

The demographic for 30 year-old Russian catalogue releases is probably fairly small. So, perhaps Kino decided this release was not worth the time or money. That's a shame, because now it isn't worth yours, either.
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