[DVD REVIEWS]Tarkovsky films ring of stellar talent

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[DVD REVIEWS]Tarkovsky films ring of stellar talent

In my last review, I mentioned that the Korean di`rector Song Il-gon has been compared with the Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky. That turned my thoughts to the iconic Russian filmmaker. I wondered, given the sparse selection at most video stores, if one of Tarkovsky's films could be found in Seoul.

It turns out that classic movies issued on DVD in Korea are much more diverse and ambitious than video offerings. SpectrumDVD in particular has a "Russian Classics" line that offers most of Tarkovsky's films.

Tarkovsky, generally considered the best Soviet filmmaker since Sergei Eisenstein, inspires extreme devotion among many of his followers (a quick perusal of the Web pages dedicated to Tarkovsky is proof of that), but it is a devotion that is well-deserved. He is one of the few Soviet-era filmmakers to spurn materialism and concentrate on spirit. He said his films were not for the 80 percent of people who want to be entertained (or, in my opinion, not for the 95 percent who want to be pandered to). Why check out a director who strove to be unentertaining? Rent one of his films and see for yourself.


Directed by Tarkovsky. Starring Anatoli Solonitsin, Ival Lapikov and Nikolai Serveyev.

The winner of the 1969 Cannes Film Festival, "Rublyov" is the story of the church icon painter/priest who lived at the beginning of the 15th century. Rublyov tries to be a good servant of God, but he is living in a dangerous time, with wild pagans, cruel aristocrats, invading Tartars and jealous monks. The movie is told as a series of vignettes; the most powerful is "The Bell," the story of a young man trying to make a giant brass bell for a church, using secrets that his bell-maker father told him before dying.

Best of all are the extras, most of which can be viewed with English subtitles. Interviews, biographies, documentaries and more fill the two-DVD package.

SOLARIS (1972)

Directed by Tarkovsky. Starring Natalya Bondarchuk, Donatus Banionis, Vladislav Dvorzhetsky, Juri Jarvet.

Another Cannes Film Festival winner, "Solaris" was Tarkovsky's science fiction epic.

The "Solaris" is a science station positioned above a planet. But the planet does not harbor alien monsters like those Western science fiction seems to dote on. The planet is the alien a giant, abstract intelligence. And the planet seems to be communicating telepathically with the Earthling explorers, pulling up their deepest memories and secrets.

Don't expect "Star Wars"; this is sci-fi on a shoestring. The story is slow, but smart and intriguing.

The DVD comes with both English subtitles and even an English dub. The only drawback is that some of the bonus materials are the same as those on "Andrei Rublyov."

If the film sounds interesting, but you'd like something more accessible, just wait. "Solaris" is being remade by Steven Soderbergh, starring George Clooney.

by Mark Russell

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