Thursday, 10 July 2008

Return to innocence

Leafing through an interesting booklet (by Bruce Stewart) on my first literary ecstasy - Irish genius writer James Joyce - I read this statement (which can be found in his Letters) attributed to the author of Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake – then a melancholic person, doubting if “anything lies ahead of us except ruin”…I cannot help marvelling at how great people, great artists end up – almost unmistakably – as pathetic or even deplorable human beings whose access to innocence seems forever banned. Joyce’s daughter, Lucia (who spent most of her life in an asylum for people suffering from mental diseases) is said to have received the news of her father’s death “with all the marks of his condition and a curious echo of Joyce’s theme in his last book, saying, ‘What is he doing under the ground, that idiot? When will he decide to come out? He’s watching us all the time”…How far an end from the serenity of the dying old man in Dovzhenko’s silent masterpiece, Zemljia / Earth (a movie released in 1930), who dies peacefully, surrounded by the whole village, next to a toddler and a heap of apples. The video Return to Innocence by Enigma was to use the same kind of poetic images - with MTV-like overtones, of course.

Funny enough, Tarkovsky’s hero in his last opus, Offret / Sacrifice (1985) ends up in a van that takes him to hospital after he has set his house on fire. But then, this (almost) Bergmanesque movie does not finish before the main character’s son performs his duty with religiosity: observing his father’s ‘canon’, the young boy waters a withered tree until it miraculously comes to life again. Then he rests under the tree and says: “’In the beginning was the Word' ... Why is that, Papa?" Thus, Tarkovsky’s light and beauty prevailed upon “the heart of darkness” and the meanders of this age. Because “beauty can save the world” (said Dostoevsky), and the director of Andrei Roublev lived by this adage. Until his last breath.


Meredith said...

I really enjoyed reading your interpretation of Tarkovsky's ending. He is a brilliant director. That scene is my favorite because it is so powerful and beautiful.

saskiul said...

Thanks. Tarkovsky IS brilliant indeed. The final scene makes up for some strange 'interludes'. It has much of the power and beauty of all the other Tarkovsky films.