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DIRECTED BY ANDREI TARKOVSKY

Sweden, 1988 (MIFF 1989)

Director: Michal Leszczylowski

col/I988/10I mins

This is easily the best of many documentaries made about Tarkovsky in the last few years of his life, because the director and his camera team had the knack of being in the right place at the right time. The coverage has an easy flow and rhythm and is accompanied, at times, by Erland Josephson reading from Tarkovsk/s book, Sculpting in Time.

It follows Tarkovsky during the shooting of his last film, The Sacrifice, catching him in repose (and, more dubiously in his anguished role of the director as Great Artist/Thinker), coaching the actors (a fascinating dialogue with Susan Fleetwood over her big scene), operating the camera in rehearsals and setting up large-scale scenes like the dream sequence with running extras.

The final section takes on the mood of a suspense thriller as we watch the first version of the burning house being shot (which was ruined by technical failures) and then the second, finished version after the house had been rebuilt. The tenseness of the occasion is marvellously caught. The sense of euphoria as Tarkovsky kisses and congratulates cast and crew afterwards is a joy to behold.

The film is not the definitive Tarkovsky biography (that film is yet to be made), but a sharp focus on Tarkovsky at the end of his brilliant career.

Michal Leszczylowski was Tarkovsky's editing assistant on The Sacrifice. This is his first feature as director.

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