Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

Review by Gary W. Tooze

Printable version

           

28 year-old Andrei Tarkovsky's 43 minute diploma film from the All-Union State Cinema Institute, entitled "The Steamroller and the Violin" has come to Region 1 DVD. This easy to view, versatile format is a blessing to his legion of cinema fans in the west who crave and obsess on his small body of only seven full length features completed prior to his death in December of 1986. The film was co-written by Tarkovsky's fellow student, Andrei Konchalovsky. It took them six months to complete the script.

Even being an ardent Tarkovsky fan and advocate, I was not expecting much from this student work, but I ended up being even more overwhelmed than I was with many of his other films. In my first viewing of this short film of unpronounced depth, detail and subtlety, I was passively gripped in my seat.

The excessively well thought out scenes and action co-ordination comprise only a few hours in the tenuous relationship between a harmless young musician and a gruff but amiable construction worker. The evolving chemistry buds gently while avoiding sentimentality. Many sequences compare the daily activities of them both male characters; paving for Sergei and violin practice for Sasha. They both appear indifferent to the females that cross their paths and infringe upon their time before they "get back to work".

Perhaps Tarkovskly's most accessible film, "The Steamroller and the Violin " has touches of brilliance and distinctive shot development found every few minutes. Purposeful exterior shots and intentional angles are contrasted to hazy dream sequences and kaleidoscopic moments of personal pause. The congenital bond of man and boy is apparent yet underplayed.
The casting is also quite skilled with pinpoint mannerisms and delicate and perceptive facial expressions from all performances.  Close-ups are infrequent as is the un-authoritative background music, but lighting and shadows are explored more extensively and appear very naturally placed within the scenes that they are utilized.

Extremely accessible for non-art cinema viewers and those unfamiliar with Tarkovsky's style, "The Steamroller and the Violin" proves a perfect introduction. For the Facets DVD disc the price tag is perhaps a shade exorbitant at $24.95 especially considering it is a short film with minimal extras. However, as this is probably the most influential avenue for many uninitiated viewers to delve into the master directors other offerings. It may be the most adept starting point and therefore could be deemed as a priceless introduction. If, after watching this, many others become intrigued to seek out other artistic auteur expressions then it is indeed worthwhile. This is great fodder for fans and neophytes alike. I strongly urge you to see it.out of .

Film and DVD Details

CLICK on above DVD Cover for a larger version.

The colors are soft yet contain full deep blues and defined edges, not unlike some Technicolor. There are a number of hairs and cue blips appearing onscreen at times. The dialogue is in Russian with clear yellow, non-removable English subtitles. The sound is very clear with negligible errors.

Flaws, only a few: the cover has our lead character playing with his wrong hand. With the abbreviated length of the film, it would have been more than appropriate to include a documentary, interviews, commentary, trailers etc. to the DVD extras. The text based biography is well done but sadly slight considering the market of this product (keen Tarkovsky fans). Grateful that it has been brought to DVD Region 1, but craving more in the area of supplements! out of

           

Full Cast and Crew for
Katok i skripka (1960) 


Directed by 
Andrei Tarkovsky 

Writing credits 
S. Bakhmetyeva (story) 
Andrei Konchalovsky 
Andrei Tarkovsky 

Cast (in credits order) 
Igor Fomchenko .... Sasha 
Vladimir Zamansky .... Sergei 
Marina Adzhubei .... Mother 
Yuri Brusser (as Yura Brusser) 
Vyacheslav Borisov (as Slava Borisov) 
Aleksandr Vitoslavsky (as Sasha Vitoslavsky) 
Aleksandr Ilyin (as Sasha Ilyin) 
Lyudmila Semyonova 
rest of cast listed alphabetically 
Natalya Arkhangelskaya .... Girl 
Zhenya Fedchenko 
M. Figner 
Gena Klyachkovsky 
Igor Korovikov 
Kolya Kozarev 
Antonina Maksimova 
Tatyana Prokhorova 
G. Zhdanova 

Original music by 
Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov 

Cinematography by 
Vadim Yusov 

Film Editing by 
Lyubov Butuzova 

Production Design by 
Savet Agoyan 

Costume Design by 
A. Martinson 

Makeup Department 
A. Makasheva .... makeup artist 

Production Management 
A. Karetin .... production manager 

Sound Department 
Vladimir Krachkovsky .... sound 

Special Effects by 
B. Pluzhnikov .... special effects 
Albert Rudachenko .... special effects 
V. Sevostyanov (II) .... special effects 

Other crew 
Emil Chatschaturjan .... conductor 
Technical Information

Release Information:
Studio: Facets Video
Theatrical Release Date: August 19, 1962
DVD Release Date: June 11, 2002
Run Time: 43 minutes

Edition Details:
Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
 Color

 

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