The Norwegian Tourist Who Fell Asleep On An Airport Baggage Belt
Rome’s Fiumicino Airport security procedures were under fire after a drunk Norwegian tourist fell asleep on a baggage belt and travelled 160 feet before being identified by an X-ray scanner. The unnamed 36-year-old arrived at the international terminal of Italy’s busiest airport in 2012 with a backpack and a can of beer in his hand.
The Norwegian was due to check in for a flight to Oslo. When he found no one on duty at the airline desk, he leapt across the counter and fell into a deep asleep on the baggage belt with his bag beside him.
As the belt began to move the unsuspecting tourist reportedly travelled for 15 minutes through the secure baggage area in Terminal 3 before officials spotted his body curled up in a fetal position in an X-ray image on their monitors. He slept through the whole episode and airport police had trouble waking him when they were called to the scene to investigate what had happened. (Source)
Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia: Study of a Cinematic Masterpiece
Masterpieces of film captivate us through their innovation of cinema’s unique language and their reinforcement of that language’s elements. That is why they carry a timelessness to them. Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia is one of those timeless films. One feels Tarkovsky’s interest in cinema as an art form, pushing its boundaries while at the same time emphasizing its qualities. His use of the long take, for example, encompasses this thought: the standard choice of early cinema pushed towards an elaborate capturing of movement, space, and action to evoke the inner worlds of characters and their connection to the outer world. As filmmakers, we also learn from Tarkovsky that an awareness of cinema’s language fused with an awareness of one’s own visionary filmmaker’s style is vital for filmmaking success. In this study on the director’s masterpiece, we intimately journey through the making of Nostalghia with the feature documentary Andrei Tarkovsky in Nostalghia and in-depth interviews that cover the years from the inspiration for the film to its success at the Cannes Film Festival–the cherry on top: footage from the festival of Orson Welles presenting Tarkovsky with the Best Director award for Nostalghia (along with Robert Bresson for L’Argent).
Donatella Baglivo’s Andrei Tarkovsky in Nostalghia is a fascinating and insightful rare documentary on Andrei Tarkovsky during the filming of Nostalghia. The documentary includes interviews with the master filmmaker, crew, and cast. “What is a film,” Tarkovsky asks himself and answers, “It’s a mosaic made of time.” Within these 90+ minutes lies an artist at work, what goes behind the process and his creative thought, how he directs his mise-en-scène and collaborators, but most importantly, it captures a time in the life of a great filmmaker whose idea of cinema was precisely that, to capture and sculpt time. Showing a lack of interest in the “development of plot” or “chain of events,” Andrei Tarkovsky seeks to express “the universe within man” through the story of a Russian poet, Andrei Gorchakov, and his journey in Italy as he reflects over his personal history and the nostalgia for his home country. Mirroring his own life, Tarkovsky approaches his work with his own personal history, allowing himself to emphasize emotional truths that would relate universally. He then communicates these truths through a unique cinematic language that sublimely relates the visual world with the sound world in a controlled yet ecstatic way.
When I speak of poetry I am not thinking of it as a genre. Poetry is an awareness of the world, a particular way of relating to reality. For Andrei Tarkovsky, cinematic poetry is a poetry of time, and his interest in time as an element of art guides itself to capturing the poetry of the soul–hence, poetry as “a particular way of relating to reality.” The capturing of cinematic poetry, however, is not an easy feat, and we witness the toil with the making of some of the most beautiful scenes in film history: the scene of Andrei Gorchakov attempting to carry a lit candle cupped in his hand across an empty pool or the scene in which the woman opens the Madonna of fertility and a flock of small birds fly free. When we first see the director in Andrei Tarkovsky in Nostalghia, we feel the passion behind his concentration as he finds his frame before fully welcoming screenwriter Tonino Guerra on set. We also witness how he and his crew battle with each set-up, the positivity he brings to set, and his perceptive reaction as a filmmaker in accepting things as they are even when they are not ideal–he jokes, in one of those situations, “The moon is not right: it’s too high. It can not be like that.”
An openness to factors outside one’s control is key for Tarkovsky, but it never eliminates the importance he gives to “thoughtful” design and drawing upon philosophical or spiritual thought for his directorial choices–whether for the inspiration of the film’s story or the reasoning behind a character’s movement and gestures. There is always an emphasis on getting “it”–the shot, the captured/filmed reality–right. We see it in how he engages with his actors, the depths he goes to in order to bring out the internal states of his characters. Actor Delia Boccard shares, He works in a very interesting way. He has endless ideas as to how a scene should be shot. He studies it in great detail and gives you many ways in which you can play it. But once he is behind the camera, he tends to be very concise, to tone down everything, and makes things simple and essential.
In three interviews that extend from the writing of the film to its showing at the Cannes Film Festival 1983, we dive into the past to meet the master Russian filmmaker, Andrei Tarkovsky, in discussions over his work Nostalghia. Share in the insight and wonder! - Talking with Andrei Tarkovsky
1980 Interview with Andrei Tarkovsky by Gian Luigi Rondi
Gian Luigi Rondi: Is the title now definitive?
Andrei Tarkovsky: I think so, yes. Initially we had considered Viaggio in Italia (Voyage to Italy), but since there was already the film by Rossellini, with Ingrid Bergman, which bore that title, we searched for something else. The title we have decided upon is Nostalghia, a word that is similar both in Russian and Italian, the only difference being that in Russian it is pronounced with a hard “g.”
And the nostalgia, as you told me the other night as you arrived at the Fiumicino Airport, is that of a Russian who is displeased that he cannot share with his family, which has remained in Moscow, the joy of the encounter with Italian art?
Well, expressed in that way it is just the kind of summary one makes in an airport as one is collecting one’s baggage and hurriedly placing his suitcases on a cart. No. The film, in fact, will deal with various problems and has many themes. The protagonist is a Russian intellectual. In Moscow, or in Leningrad, Tonino Guerra and I have still not yet specified this point, he teaches history of Italian Renaissance architecture at a university. He is a great specialist, appreciated by everyone, even though he has never set foot in Italy because he constructed his science, his culture, solely through books. One day, for research purposes, he decides to come to Italy, assisted by an interpreter who must accompany him to all the inspections of palaces and monuments that he plans to make. He begins his visits, he looks, he studies, and very soon thereafter he enters into crisis. Everything that he knew, in fact, seems to no longer have any sense for him, it seems dead, empty. Contained in those monuments, in those palaces, is the heart and soul of those who made them, who conceived them, and around them are the people who don’t see them in an abstract way but in concrete terms, because they live there or experience them, because they are part of their daily panoramas, of the rhythms of their existence. And thus all meanings change, all surroundings, as if revealing different themes and measures. What did the professor know of all this? Nothing. Thus he did not know the essential, the true juice of those monuments, of that art that he had read about in books, that he had seen only in photographs.
It is also a bit the problem of reproductions, of translations…
Precisely. The only art that reaches everyone directly is music. The others, if you are not in the midst of them, if you don’t experience them, they have only barriers surrounding them. Take a poem and translate it. The language, the sound, the spirit will immediately be different, it will be a different poem, not that one, because you will never be able to say, on the basis of a simple translation, that you have reached the heart of the poet, the secret of his soul, the true essence of the way that he expresses himself. And so it is for reproductions. A monument. Certainly, a photograph might contain all that appears, the lines, style, even the indication of the proportions. But the air that circulates around it, the light on that day, in that hour, the eyes of those who see it and walk near it, at times without even realizing where they are? And instead it is these that give that monument its truest meaning, its dimensions, its artistic secret. Photographic reproduction, translation. Art cannot manage to move inside it, it is there, imprisoned, and an imprisoned art, yes, certainly, is always a betrayed art.
And so, given this problem, it is necessary to attempt to arrive at a solution, and there can only be one solution, contact, communication. Art is culture, culture is the soul and memory of the people. There must be the possibility to transmit, to communicate culture: because only through this communication, this exchange, can man arrive at his entirety. However much you may be convinced that you have achieved a certain level of fullness, however much you may have experienced and studied, if you ignore that which there is elsewhere, if you lack that which culture has given to others far from you, you are lacking something, you are not complete, you cannot truly say that you have achieved the fullness which defines a true, whole, complete man. Culture is like blood, it must circulate, and it must circulate normally everywhere. Otherwise what happens is what occurs in a body when blood does not circulate in some point: gangrene immediately develops.
But what about nostalgia?
It becomes a universal problem. In Italy, the professor is alone. Obviously, he does not have his family with him, he does not have his students with him. The discoveries that he makes, starting above all with the discovery that he knows nothing and that thus his teaching is useless, are useful only to himself because they are not sensations, experiences, that can be transmitted in a classroom or, worse, printed in books, because it is absolutely necessary to experience them, and experience them together. So, as I already told you at the Fiumicino Airport, he has a sort of crisis of rejection, with regards to everything that surrounds him. That research trip–research and study only for himself–suddenly no longer seems to make any sense to him and he interrupts it. He still has some monuments, some buildings, to visit, but he refuses, he stops. Precisely because he has discovered the importance and the necessity of communication, of contact, he does not feel like being the only one to profit from it. Because it would in fact be like letting the blood circulate only partially in his body.
And how will you narrate all of this?
With Tonino Guerra, we have tried to develop these moral themes in the same manner that cinema generally develops the practical themes of hunger, hatred, violence, death. In order to arrive at evoking the same tensions, the same emotions.
Do you already have an idea of the images with which you will visualize these themes?
If possible, they will be even more simple and essential than those of Stalker, with the renunciation of technical gimmicks, of special effects. A man and the life around him, a man in reality. A recreated reality, naturally, not a copied one. I do not believe in a cinema that copies.
A realism of dream, like that of Mirror?
There isn’t “realism” on the one hand, and on the other hand (in contrast, in contradiction) “dreams.” We spend a third of our life asleep (and thus dreaming): what is there that is more real than dreams?
Then how would you explain the style which you have in mind for Nostalghia?
I refer once again to Stalker. There is a place there, the Zone, which is and is not, it is reality and, at the same time, it is a place of the soul, of memory. In the film, when you see it, it is a forest, a river. That’s all. But the air that circulates, the light, the rhythms, the perspectives, without distorting anything, make you feel it as an “other” place, with various dimensions, always real and, at the same time, different. The last time that I came to Italy to begin studying the project of Nostalghia, together with Tonino Guerra I visited many of your cities, also to have a precise idea of Renaissance architecture, of your Art. Tonino would show me this or that monument, I looked, admired, took notes, but then what always struck me most was the sky, your blue sky, black sky, with clouds, with the sun, at dawn, at noon, in the evening. The sky, a sky is always just that, but all it takes is a different hour of the day, the wind, a change in climate, for it to speak to you in a different way, with love, with violence, with longing, with fear. Cinema can give these “ways” back to you, it must. With courage, and honesty, always starting from the real.
Have you already chosen the actors and the technicians?
For now only the protagonist, who, as in Andrei Rublev and Stalker, will once again be Anatoli Solonytsin. The others, obviously, will all be Italians, except for the ones who will act in the scenes to be filmed in the Soviet Union–the professor’s memories. We will discuss with RAI with regards to the technicians. In any case, I am considering Luciano Tovoli for director of photography [Giuseppe Lanci served as director of photography for Nostalghia, though Tovoli would take that role in Tarkovsky’s 1982 documentary Tempo di Viaggio, or Voyage in Time.
1983 Interview with Andrei Tarkovsky by Maurizio Porro
Maurizio Porro: Nostalgia for what, Mr. Tarkovsky?
Andrei Tarkovsky: Our “nostalghia” is not your “nostalgia.” It is not an individual emotion but something much more complex and profound that Russians experience when they are abroad. It is a disease, an illness, that drains away the strength of the soul, the capacity to work, the pleasure of living. I analyze this nostalghia confronting it with a concrete story, that of a Soviet intellectual who comes to Italy.
Afflicted with this nostalghia, how did you find working with us?
Extremely well, because cinema, in any case, is a big family everywhere. I made the film without the use of a translator, making myself understood with broken phrases. Film uses a universal language, it helps us to understand each other, to explain ourselves. However, I do find that in Italy there is far too much discussion and arguing over the financial aspects of this type of work, of filmmaking, which instead are not considered to be so essential by we in Russia.
Looking at the Russian protagonist, one is tempted to view it as being an autobiographical film.
It is, but only from the artistic point of view. In fact, in this sense, I have never made a film that has mirrored my moods with such violence, that has liberated my interior world so profoundly, as this one. I myself, when I saw the completed film, was stunned in the face of this expressive force. I felt almost ill: the same thing that one experiences when looking at oneself in the mirror, or when one has the impression of even having gone beyond one’s own intentions.
And what were your intentions?
My wish was simply to observe a Russian who comes to Italy and discovers unexpected emotions which regard him. Of course, the same thing would have happened if I had gone to Africa, or who knows where else. This man does not understand the reason for the barriers between countries. He does not accept the artificial conventions that wish to render men different from each other. And all of this naturally provokes atrocious suffering in him. Even a child, if you ask him what we should do to understand each other better, will answer that we need to open the frontiers. Of course, it is a naive and idealistic answer, but a basically just one: the drama emerges precisely from this clash between this innocent vision of the world and the real conditions of life for a man who is away from his country.
Does your work help you?
Cinema is the most noble and important art, even though it is still expiating its original sin of having been born from commerce and the market as merchandise.
Don’t you think that all of this is very close to pessimism?
On the contrary, the true pessimists are those who continue to seek happiness. Wait for two or three years and then go and ask them what they have attained.
Can I ask you where your optimism lies?
It lies in being aware that the drama of our civilization consists in a non-harmonious development between the requirements of technology and the needs of the spirit, whose perfection is the true purpose of life.
1983 Interview with Andrei Tarkovsky by Natalia Aspesi
Natalia Aspesi: Are you indifferent to awards?
Andrei Tarkovsky: If I answered yes, I would be a liar. It would be like a writer saying that he doesn’t care at all whether he is read or not. Films are made in order to be seen, and if Nostalghia were to win here at Cannes I would be very happy. Nostalghia was conceived, filmed, and produced in Italy, but it is the most Russian of my films.
How do you find staying in Italy?
I like it very much. It is the only country where I could remain for a long period of time. I wouldn’t be able to stay for longer than a week anywhere else. Nevertheless, I’m going back to Moscow at the end of the month. I can’t live for long far away from my land, from my people. I have many projects. I will have to decide. I am thinking above all about a film based on Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot. My culture was formed, was nurtured, from the great Russian writers. Like them, I experience the dramatic condition of struggling to reconcile material life and spiritual life.
Is it true that you viewed Nostalghia only once before bringing it here to the Cannes Film Festival?
Yes. And I was extremely pleased with it. I feel that it is my most successfully realized film, the one that best expresses my interior world. The protagonist even became my alter ego of sorts. He contains all my emotions, my psychology, my nature. He is my portrait in the mirror.
Why don’t you want to talk about your film?
That’s not accurate. I don’t wish to recount the plot of the film, which, in and of itself, means nothing. What interest is there in knowing that it deals with a Russian writer who comes to Italy to carry out research about a countryman of his, an artist about whom all traces were lost two centuries ago, and that he encounters an Italian professor and a blond translator? But I can try to explain what the film tries to say. It is the expression of an emotion, the one that is most deeply rooted in me, that I have never felt so strongly as when I left the Soviet Union. It is for this reason that I say that I could have filmed Nostalghia only in Italy. And we Russians, for us nostalghia is not a gentle and benevolent emotion, as it is for you Italians. For us it is a sort of deadly disease, a mortal illness, a profound compassion that binds us not so much with our own privation, our longing, our separation, but rather with the suffering of others, a passionate empathy.
Where do you situate Nostalghia in the context of your body of work?
Nostalghia is an extremely important film for me. It is a film in which I have managed to express myself fully. I must say that it has confirmed for me that cinema is a truly great art form, capable of representing faithfully even the most imperceptable movements of the human soul.
What struck you most upon seeing, even if only once, your completed film?
Its almost unbearable sadness, which, however, reflects very well my need to immerse myself in spirituality. In any case, I can’t stand mirth. Cheerful people seem guilty to me, because they can’t comprehend the mournful value of existence. I accept happiness only in children and the elderly, with all others I am intolerant.
In a career that spans over 23 years, why have you made only six films?
Because I have only made the films that I wanted to make, and these required considerable financing. Now, being over fifty years of age, I begin to pose to myself the problem of this sort of prudence, of avarice, of mine. Perhaps I now must hurry, I must work more, say everything.
Three giants on one stage: Orson Welles, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Robert Bresson at Cannes 1983.
Orson Welles presents Andrei Tarkovsky and Robert Bresson with the Grand Prix du cinéma de creation award (Best Director) at Cannes 1983 for L’Argent and Nostalghia.