Singing the Motherland
The release of Chris Marker’s heartfelt, heartbreaking film about Tarkovsky (“le maître” as he once confided), One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich [55 min./2009], is welcome news for both Marker and Tarkovsky fans—who tend to overlap, for reasons that are worth pondering. The film is accompanied by two other films hand-picked by Marker, Three Songs About Motherland by Marina Goldovskaya [39 min./ 2009] and In the Dark by Sergey Dvortsevoy [41 min./2004]. Marker notes that these are “magnificent examples of the present documentary work in Russia.”
Here is Marker’s evocation of the two accompanying films, a text that appears on Wexner’s site, where the DVD can be purchased:
THREE SONGS ABOUT MOTHERLAND, the title of Marina Goldovskaya’s inspired wandering throughout her country, could have been used as a general title for this DVD. Each of us in his manner sings the paean or the doom of a place on Earth that defies any rational grasp. I had the easiest task. Entering Tarkovsky’s world carries you within a sumptuous chorale, a multivoiced fugue that encompasses all that’s Russian. Marina, since years, pursued a patient pilgrimage home, with her unique gift to mix with people and extract the best of them. As for Sergei Dvortsevoy and his blind man, he illuminates the Russian way to embody what has been since Antiquity the natural hobby of sightlessness: prophecy. The night Stalin died, I was on Times Square, besides another blind man: Moondog, the musician. I couldn’t help feeling something metaphorical in this confrontation between blindness and History. There we were, like the apes at the beginning of Kubrick’s 2001, facing an opaque, indecipherable monolith. So is the blind man in his basement, facing the enigma of an opaque, indecipherable country which he manages to graze with the help of his companion the cat, the creature who sees what even the seers don’t see. Sometimes we come to the conclusion that Mother Russia just can’t be analyzed, criticized, dismantled, explained: too complex, too brutal, too elusive, too paradoxical, too cavorting… Sometimes even, to my dismay, she can’t be loved. But still, yes, she can be sung.