15 October 2022: Today I learned:
That there’s a film called Nostalgia (1983) that’s “deemed by some to be one of the greatest films ever made. Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky explores the way time bends and warps according to our attention. In the final scene of the film, a man attempts to cross an empty pool with a lit candle, starting over whenever the wind blows it out. The scene takes nearly nine minutes and is shot in a single take in total silence, except for the man’s gravelly footsteps. The effect is surreal, somehow gripping in its simplicity.”
I discovered its existence reading an essay, Learning to Lose (Aug 2021), by Haley Nahman in her newsletter Maybe Baby. (Her essay is worth reading as well.) She had learned about the film via an 8-1/2-minute video essay by Evan Puschak called “Time, Tarkovsky, and the Pandemic” (which I will watch after I see the film) in which “Puschak notes that, as you cross the four-minute mark of the scene, ‘you become aware of the odd encounter you’re having with time itself. You can feel the texture of it, its presence — as if time were not only a concept, but a substance, stretching out in front of you, expanding and contracting with every breath. It’s beyond interest, beyond boredom. Tarkovsky induces a kind of trance.'”
On IMDB, someone who titled their review of Nostalgia “Masterpiece” starts it with “Apparently even Tarkovsky described this film as ‘tedious’, so you can imagine what it’s like to be on the receiving end.”
And now I have to see this film.
Unrelated note: Earlier this week, we watched An Affair to Remember for the first time after hearing references to it in multiple places over the years but most notably in Sleepless in Seattle, which I’ve seen a few times and like for what it is, a sweet and lovable romantic fairy tale (and he lives on a houseboat). But An Affair just didn’t do it for me. I love Cary Grant, especially in this sort of role, and of course almost the entire film is set in a heterotopia (a cruise ship sailing on the vast ocean, which we’re reminded of every 10 minutes or so with an exterior shot of the boat bobbing on the sea; and there’s also a significant moment-out-of-time at his grandmother’s open-air house/garden in France) but those are all that kept me watching, and I was not rewarded for my persistence with the final line, wtf? I laughed as I erased the recording. So after years of not really wondering, I learned a couple of days ago that I don’t especially appreciate An Affair to Remember.