Andrei Tarkovsky is in my opinion the greatest filmmaker to ever have lived. His films had an existential and metaphysical quality but not in the dry, theoretical sense, but rather, in a deeply spiritual and devotional way. He was also a master filmmaker in terms of how well crafted his films were and from his biography, “Sculpting in Time”, you get a strong sense of how he truly felt connected to his audience, especially the non-intellectual “normal” people who would write him letters telling him how his films spoke to them on a personal level.
Tarkvosky's films are a great example of how films can create a visceral experience for the audience of profound and complex matters. There's a sorrow and longing in his character's as they inhabit spaces that also serve as metaphors for something else such as in “Stalker”, where the forbidden and heavily guarded Zone, represents a place that brings us in touch with our own essence and connection with the divine, both external and internal. It's no easy place to negotiate physically and emotionally. The appeal is the innermost room that is said to grant your deepest wishes.
Some of the most memorable images and shots that I've seen in film, come from the films of Andrei Tarkovsky. In the early part of the epic “Andrey Rublyev”, there is a shot of a horse rolling on its back on the ground. Perhaps shot in 60 frames per second, slow motion in other words, the shot is so majestic and memorable that it goes well beyond the elements of itself. It lingers. There's another shot, in “Stalker” where the protagonist throws a large bolt he uses to test for danger ahead, also in slow motion, that flies through the air and bounces off the sand on the ground that is in wave-like formation. Immediately after, two black crows fly through the building cut with a jump-cut, half way through the shot. (Jump cuts illuminate part of the shot, creating a “jump-like” sensation and discontinuity). The overall effect of these shots is one of dis balanced beauty that feels perfect. It's impossibly to do these sequences justice with words and they take an attentive sensibility in order to experience them fully.
Generally, the cinematography in his films is breathtaking and impeccable. Tarkovsky did in fact have relatively large budgets for his productions before he was exiled from the former Soviet Union and could work with great precision. For me, exquisite shots don't necessarily come from lavish productions, but they did in this case.
Perhaps the most important film in existence. Made in 1979, Stalker is science fiction but more so conceptually than in terms of special effects and so on. If you're at all spiritually inclined and have questions and longing for the divine, whatever that means to you, this is a film to be experienced, as are the others by Andrei Tarkovsky. I resist attempts at explaining the symbols and meaning of Stalker. If you see it, and feel it; you know.
Made in 1966, this epic of a film, looks at themes of the importance and relevance of art through the travels of the protagonist, 15th century icon painter, Andrei Rublyev.
The film is huge and complex, at 3 hours and 25 minutes, it might test your patience but if you can see an actual 35mm print projection, the imagery and mood is powerful in and of itself.
The film is divided in 7 chapters, spanning 24 years and deals with different aspects of faith, religion and art in each.
Other films by Andrei Tarkovsky include, Solaris, , The Mirror, Nostaghia, Ivan's Childhood, The Sacrifice and a far-lesser known personal documentary called Voyage in Time.
Andrei Tarkovsky died of cancer in 1986, aged 53, living in self-imposed exile from the USSR.
Return from Andrei Tarkovsky to Independent Films