Screened as part of NZIFF 2001
Made for the French TV series Cinema in Our Time, Marker’s One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich is a brilliant appreciation of the last great Soviet director, Andrei Tarkovsky – most of it shot in 1985 and 1986 while the dying, self-exiled Tarkovsky was completing work on his last film, The Sacrifice.
No less than Jean-Luc Godard or Martin Scorsese, Marker is an original and perceptive exegete of other filmmakers. In One Day, he elaborates Tarkovsky’s vitality into a seamless portrait of both the man and his oeuvre, weaving in and out of the films, juxtaposing excerpts with revelatory scenes of Tarkovsky directing The Sacrifice and intimate home movies of the bedridden filmmaker reunited with his son. Linking the first shot in Tarkovsky’s début feature, My Name is Ivan, to the last image in The Sacrifice, Marker makes a visual argument for Tarkovsky’s work as the expression of a single utterance – orchestrating the most sustained and heartfelt tribute one filmmaker has paid another. — J. Hoberman, Village Voice, 8/6/01
One great filmmaker records and recalls the passing of another. Chris Marker was with Andrei Tarkovsky during his final days, dying of cancer in Paris in late 1986, and the day he chooses as the jumping-off point for this meditation on the life and works of his friend and colleague is no ordinary day, but the one on which he is reunited with his son. Andryushka had been held hostage by the Soviet bureaucracy ever since his father’s defection some five years earlier. Andrei, like the invisible protagonist of his film Mirror, is troubled by his inability to come to terms with his feelings, so Marker discreetly leaves this happy scene to seek the sublimated emotion in images from Tarkovsky’s films – the ‘seven good ones’ that the spirit of Boris Pasternak had once declared he would make: Ivan’s Childhood, Andrei Rublyov, Solaris, Mirror, Stalker, Nostalghia and The Sacrifice.
Chris Marker’s films, from La Jetée through Sans Soleil and The Last Bolshevik to Level Five, have been preoccupied with cultural dislocation and the labyrinth of memory, so he is in obvious sympathy with Tarkovsky’s work. He is also a critic of considerable acuity, and he studs his free-associating catalogue of Andrei Arsenevich’s favoured tropes and themes with penetrating insights and fresh observations: a detailed analysis of The Sacrifice’s climactic shot; the intriguing discovery of a fundamental difference between Russian and American film syntax. — Andrew Langridge