This new film about Nobel Prize-winning poet and essayist Joseph Brodsky blends interviews, cityscapes and audio of Brodsky reciting his own work to create a poetic homage to one of the 20th century’s great literary talents.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2011
“Being put into exile is like being put into a capsule, and that capsule is your language.” — Joseph Brodsky
Utah filmmaker Jan Andrews’ documentary admiringly traces the resolute, solitary path taken by Russian poet Joseph Brodsky, and mounts a valiant and moving bid to honour his poetic spirit in sound and image. Brodsky was born in 1940 amidst the siege ofLeningrad, and that singular city is a living entity in Andrews’ film as it is in Brodsky’s verse. His poetry was anathema to the Soviet authorities, and in 1963 he was sent to an Arctic labour camp where he spent 18 months. He was expelled from theUSSRin 1972, and settled inAmericabut developed a deep attachment toVenice. Andrews elicits vivid pictures of the man from his surviving friends inRussia,Veniceand theUS. Brodsky’s incantatory delivery of his Russian poems on the soundtrack can never be matched by the words we read in translation, but, adding a layer of obliquely related images, Andrews leaves even non-Russian speakers with a tantalising impression of his existence encapsulated in language. — BG