Any filmmaker who does not love or feel deeply about the films of Andrei Tarkovsky cannot be taken seriously. You are more than welcome to have your doubts about Hitchcock or Kubrick or Godard, but no such doubt is even possible with this Russian master. He had a few flaws (such as his admiration of his father's second-rate poetry), but the raw power of his cinematic imagination was incomparable. He only made seven films in his short life (he died of cancer at 54), the best of which is The Mirror—and because it is his best film, it is the best film ever made.

The documentary Meeting Andrei Tarkovsky reminds me of something that happens to any serious reader of Jorge Luis Borges's short stories: He/she becomes enchanted by them. And those who are experienced know of only two ways of dealing with this incredible and restless spell: one, to work hard to break it and regain some sense of self; two, to find its source, its core, its meaning, and with that finding finally come to a rest.

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Tarkovsky casts a similar spell on the lovers of cinema, and, as with Borges, there are only two ways of dealing with it—break it or search for its source. The director of this documentary, Dmitry Trakovsky, is clearly in the latter group.

The moody but altogether compelling documentary searches in California, Italy, Sweden, and Russia for the enigmatic core of Tarkovsky's genius. Trakovsky interviews actors, scholars, and relatives of the director, but none of these thoughtful and talented people has clear directions to that place where Trakovsky can finally find a home, a place of peace for the spell. Indeed, one could argue that the most important message in the whole documentary is that Tarkovsky was essentially homeless (he kept burning them in his films), and so there is no home for this powerful form of enchantment. recommended

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