One Day In The Life Of Andrei Arsenevich
A work that softly bears the mind-blowing revelation that criticism can itself be art: as lyrical and spiritual as that which it seeks to understand. A poetic investigation by one of my favorite filmmakers (Chris Marker) of my absolute favorite filmmaker (Andrei Tarkovsky), the documentary glides through Tarkovsky’s own blissful and contemplative mis-en-scene, intermittently surfacing in beautifully muddy VHS footage of Andrei working from his deathbed to finish The Sacrifice.
A bastion of hope for anyone with an analytical bent: that they need not eviscerate what they study, but rather the attempt to observe and understand how certain artistic effects are achieved might itself inject greater mystery and deeper power into the work studied. That the two endeavors (creative expression and critical investigation) are possibly the same impulse, and can fuel each other to serious heights. The added bonus is the opportunity to watch the man himself direct, meticulously choreographing the climactic 7 minute shot of The Sacrifice after a camera jam has ruined the first attempt, and the crew has watched helplessly as their set burned to the ground.
Andrei, who was already severely ill but didn’t yet know it, orchestrates the cast and crew masterfully with a gentleness and seriousness that belies his deep understanding of the artistic process, and the delicate balance between hopeful attraction and clear-headed realism. Something about ‘innocent as doves, wise as serpents’ springs to mind.