The Steamroller and the Violin (1961)

The Steamroller and the Violin (Katok i skripka)
Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
Written by Andrei Tarkovsky and Andrey Konchalovskiy; story by S. Bakhmetyeva
1961/USSR
Mosfilm Children’s Film Unit
First viewing/Filmstruck

One of the luckiest things that can happen to you in life is, I think, to have a happy childhood. Agatha Christie

Tarkovsky’s debut solo film is both sweet and accomplished.

Seven-year-old Sasha is gifted.  He spends most of every day practicing the violin but neither his mother nor his instructor is ever satisfied.  The kids in his apartment block tease and torment him.  He is a very lonely child.

Sasha has his one day of happy childhood when Sergei, a steamroller driver, takes pity on him.  He lets the boy drive the steamroller and then takes him to get food for a shared lunch.  Sasha basks in the attention.

Tarkovsky tells the tale with great delicacy and charm.  It was the quiet moments surrounding the more arty camera effects that completely won me over, though the latter did build to a very satisfying ending.  Highly recommended.

Video essay on Tarkovsky and his solo debut

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