Moscow Elegy is a part of Elegy series, created by our team at the Leningrad State Documentary Productions, LSDF. The films in this series have an “elegiac mood” in common — Moscow Elegy was originally intended to mark the 50th anniversary of Tarkovsky. But disagreements within the Soviet Professional Union of Cinematographers about the style and content of the film forced us to suspend production for a long time.
The film is a subjective perception of the personality of the great film–maker and his destiny in the context of History. Let me add that our task was to create a special human approach towards the memory and the personality of Tarkovsky. We attempted to treat the footage in a tender and caring way, with kindness. We were not trying to embrace all aspects of Tarkovsky’s life and work. We are speaking only about what he has left in his Motherland, and what was going on during those years in the West, where he had had to work.
Who knows what Home is? The “My dear Russia” that Shalyapin is longing for in his letters, or the “bottles, jars, rags, all this precious, essential garbage” that Tonino Guerra is here speaking to Andrei Tarkovsky about — in the second Sokurov Elegy, following the first, on Shalyapin? While making his film on Shalyapin in 1984, Sokurov thought and spoke about Tarkovsky, who had just left Russia, and suffered over this rupture.
A Russian artist, no matter where his fate takes him, will always remain a part of his country. He remains a part of his homeland, no matter what takes place there. Thus Moscow Elegy is the next natural step in a cycle of films about the destinies of artists. Historical changes are treated by Sokurov as the tragic locations on the journeys of personal destinies. —Sokurov.spb.ru
One of the most important directors in both Russian and world cinema, Alexander Sokurov is considered by many to be the spiritual heir of the great Andrei Tarkovsky. Sokurov — who has enjoyed a long creative relationship with Tarkovsky — has discounted such comparisons, but certain similarities between their works remain indelible: a predilection towards very long takes, natural performances by their actors, and an almost otherworldly use of natural sounds and music. And, perhaps most important, both directors are concerned with the essential questions of human existence and the state of the human spirit.
Sokurov was the son of a World War II veteran. His family moved around a good deal while Sokurov was growing up, and after finishing high school, he went to Gorki, Russia’s third largest city. There, he attended Gorki University and began to work as an assistant television director when he was 19. He continued to direct television programs for the Gorki station until 1975, and… read more
As Zerkalo was autobiography, Moscow Elegy is biography; as Tarkovsky is painted a Russian humanist, Sokurov emerges Tarkovsky’s humanist. An elegy supplementing his late period, Sokurov produces intimate, rolling footage commensurate to Tarkovsky’s meditations, in studious ode. Though his deference to extended excerpts may qualify as indulgent - if not obsequious - by contrast, in his juxtaposing ceremonious funeral for Brezhnev with death-in-exile for Tarkovsky, Sokurov’s own bow in drawing the state of Russia sees the torch summarily passed.