One Day In The Life Of Andrei Arsenevich

One Day In The Life Of Andrei Arsenevich


Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

This documentary, apparently excerpted from a French TV series ("film makers of our time") combines footage of Andrei Tarkovsky (Arsenevich) during the shooting of The Sacrifice and its post-production - by which time the director was dying of cancer - with clips from the director's seven features.

Alexandra Stewart's voice-over commentary, penned by writer-director-editor Chris Marker, provides insights into the dominant themes and images within Tarkovsky's work: the elemental forces of nature, paintings, mirrors, the "alien shore" or "zone" and the Dostoyevskian holy fool or "innocent".

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Marker is also critical of the Soviet authorities for their censuring of his films, refusal to let his family join him in exile until the very last days of his life, and their fulsome praise once he was dead.

While there is no question that Marker's commentary is insightful and conveys his respect and admiration for Tarkovsky, I also found it to be that bit too sure of itself in places. On occasion it would have been nice to hear a more critical voice, or a dialogue about the strengths and - yes - weaknesses of Tarkovsky's films, instead of a "this is what they mean" monologue.

I also could not shake the feeling that One Day In The Life of Andrei Arsenevich had been programmed at the EIFF as filler. Why only this installment of the series? Why Tarkovsky rather than any other equally worthy film maker? Was it just that the programmer had one film they really wanted to show - A Brief History of Errol Morris, with which this film is being screened - and they just needed something vaguely similar to make up the running time.

Okay, both films are documentaries where the both the documentarist and the documentary subject are film-makers, but do Andrei Tarkovsky and Errol Morris really have that much in common?

These minor programming criticisms aside, One Day In The Life Of Andre Arsenevich is recommended for anyone interested in the great director.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Documentary about director Andrei Tarkovsky.

Director: Chris Marker

Writer: Chris Marker

Starring: Andrei Tarkovsky

Year: 1999

Runtime: 55 minutes

Country: France


EIFF 2000

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If you like this, try:

The Sacrifice