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Beautiful films from Russian film master Tarkovsky

The quality of light on water droplets, the ripples on the ground, the play of evening shadows on stone wall... Andrei Tarkovsky - the acclaimed master of Soviet cinema - captivates audiences with poetic images not only of lingering beauty but also reflections of heart and vibrations of human spirituality.

Seven distinguished titles, including "Ivan's Childhood", "Solaris", "The Mirror" and "Nostalgia" will be showcased at the Cinema of the Hong Kong Film Archive from October 15 to 17 and at the Lecture Hall of the Hong Kong Science Museum from October 25 to 31.

Presented by the Film Programmes Office of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and curated by Mr Law Wai-ming, the "Repertory Cinema 2004" introduces the world's film classics to local audiences. Tarkovsky is the second director in focus after Lina Wertmuller. Works of Kenji Mizoguchi, from Japan, will be featured in December.

A seminar entitled "Journey of a Saint - Andrei Tarkovsky's Films", to be conducted in Cantonese, is scheduled for October 31 at 4.30pm at the Lecture Hall of the Science Museum.

Tarkovsky's growing up was studded with hurdles. His parents were divorced, his mother had to sell his grandmother's jewellery and walk for several days in freezing winter to barter for food.

When Tarkovsky grew up and entered the film industry, the leaders never stopped making things difficult. He was under scathing criticism and his creative career was checkered. After "Andrei Rublev" and "The Mirror", Tarkovsky did not make a film for five years.

Tarkovky was the most important director in modern Russia. While the Soviet Union cinema was embracing social realism, Tarkovsky's films echoed the works of Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini and Michelangelo Antonioni but with sentiments that are uniquely Russian. Each of his films has its own dreamlike coherence, emphasising the power of the soul and the importance of self-enhancement.

Plot is not important in his film. The story lies in the journey. It is the accidental and sudden events taking place during the journey that stir. Filters are skilfully used to paint a melancholic mood and sets with layered texture serve to create nightmarish images. The vastness of his cinema, the artistry of the composition and compassion in Tarkovsky's works depict a spiritual nostalgia and the meaning of existence.

The opening film, "Ivan's Childhood"(1962), is Tarkovsky's first film. It features an orphan who works as the agent for the Soviet partisans against the Nazis. The film was originally someone's else work. Tarkovsky rewrote the script to make it a stunning film with haunting and poetic images. It received the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival and the Grand Prize at the San Francisco Film Festival in 1962.

"Andrei Rublev" (1966) was acclaimed as the most profound and most moving historical film on the Russian screen. War and separation destroyed the mood of creation for a famous painter-monk, until the enthusiasm of a young bell-maker stirred him to work wonders once again. The film garnered prizes in various festivals including the award of International Critic Prize at the Cannes International Film Festival in 1969.

"Solaris" (1972) is an extraordinary film of great sensitivity on love, conscience and reconciliation. A cosmonaut is assigned to investigate the strange transmissions from the space station, but resulting in a spiritual introspective journey. It was the mystery of life after death in Stanislaw Lem's novel that interested Tarkovsky. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes International Film Festival in 1972.

With beautiful, moving images, "The Mirror" (1974) is a haunting masterpiece that scrutinises Tarkovsky's traumatic childhood experience and his troubled and broken adult life.

Not to be missed is "Stalker" (1979), a visually stunning film on the path of the professor and writer who go to the coveted room where any wish can come true. In search of soul from heaven to below, not all may attain enlightenment, yet all must have faith.

When Tarkovsky shot "Nostalgia" (1983) in Italy, it was clear that he was leaving his country. It is a magnificent beautiful movie on the mystical journey of a Russian poet who goes to Italy on a research mission. Tarkovsky's signature style is marked by bleak images, soul exploring, and a desire for self- advancement and social betterment. The film won the Grand Prix for Creative Filmmaking at the Cannes International Film Festival in 1983.

Tarkovsky announced his exile after making "Nostalgia". His health deteriorated during the shooting of "The Sacrifice" (1986) which became his last offering to the world with repeated themes on the importance of faith. The film won The Best Artistic Contribution at the Cannes International Film Festival, the Special Jury Grand Prix at the Cannes International Film Festival in 1986, and also the Best Foreign-Language Film at the British Academy Awards in 1987.

All films are in Russian with Chinese and English subtitles, except "Nostalgia" which will have only English subtitles.

Tickets priced at $50 are available at URBTIX outlets. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. There will be a 10% discount for each purchase of six to 10 tickets and a 20% discount for each purchase of 11 or more tickets.

For programme information, call 2734 2900 or visit . Reservations can be made by phone on 2734 9009 or on the Internet at .

Ends/Wednesday, September 22, 2004
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