“It is no more than a straightforward, simple story. It doesn't have to be made any more understandable.” -Andrei Tarkovsky
In other words: life is hell then you die. Simple and straightforward? Yes. We are all, each of us, alone in our misery. We are all, each of us, separated by our pain. We are all, each of us, unable to be intimate. We are all, each of us, swept up by the winds of fate. Our individual lives mean nothing in the grand scheme.
The Spanish Civil War, World War II, the Cold War; lose, win or stalemate there is no difference: life is hell. Death is the only escape, and even then it is only a cessation of life. There is no reward; no balancing the scales.
The Soviet Union during the time period encompassed by this film (1930's-1974) was a dreary, forsaken place to live. Stalin, Malenkov, Krushchev and Brezhnev; from one circle of hell to another without the promise of an end.
The use of the same actress for the narrator's wife and mother, the lack of a father (away to war), and the unfulfilling relationships the narrator had with all three trumpet Freud's Oedipal Complex -- albeit shallowly and without any original insight.
The narrator's reminiscing constructed as a jumbled sequence of out of sync time periods reflects how human memory sometimes works. However, memory recall seeks to order events into some sort of meaning, while this film sought only to ensure there was no order, no meaning, no connections. The end result is a memory of a life as seen by a person drowning in helplessness.
The camera work was the highlight of the film. The scenic panning was very well done. The winds that periodically rolled over the countryside carried more of a message, more emotion, than the words and actions of the actors. The world the camera revealed, the world outside human control, the natural country side, the vistas . . . all were beautiful. The earth is beautiful, it is the human race that is the blight -- if there is a message to this film, this is it.