1+1=1; An Exploration of Bakhtinian Minimum for Existence in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia


Mikhail Bakhtin's emphasis upon the constructedness of language and consciousness, the essential connectedness of individuals to each other, and the co-creation of un-finalized beings in the course of inter-subjective utterances of a dialogue have come to the aid of a great many people to defy subjugation and confinement. By depicting the anti-authoritarian spirit of the carnival within which the hierarchies are disrupted, the materiality of the body celebrated, the Otherness of the individual acknowledged, and the identities arbitrarily assumed, Bakhtin shows the disparity between individuals and their labels, as well as the impossibility of possessing a private and autonomous self. A vigorous display of these liberating notions in action is Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia which chronicles the fateful moments of introspection in the exiled director’s life. Rich with autobiographical elements, the movie depicts the predicament of an itinerant artist in a foreign land. Having felt deeply uprooted in a country he doesn’t belong to, the Russian protagonist gets empowered when he goes through a conciliatory ritual which enables him to acknowledge the necessity of abolishing borderlines and creating a meaningful dialogue between his Russianness and life in Italy. The movie ends with a utopic vision in which a Russian landscape is embraced by the pillars of an Italian cathedral. By drawing upon Bakhtinian notions, I wish to tackle the question of how the protagonist/director of Nostalghia escapes monologism by co-authoring himself into being, averring the fact that consciousness is only relational.

Author Information
Maryam Zehtabi Sabeti Moqaddam, University of Massachusetts, USA

Paper Information
Conference: NACMFCS2014
Stream: Film Studies - Film and Literature: Artistic Correspondence

This paper is part of the NACMFCS2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon