Andrei Tarkovsky


Andrei Tarkovsky (1932 – 1986) was a Russian filmmaker, widely regarded as one of the finest of the 20th century. Tarkovsky’s films include ‘Andrei Rublev,’ ‘Solaris,’ ‘The Mirror,’ and ‘Stalker.’ He directed the first five of his seven feature films in the Soviet Union; his last two films were produced in Italy and Sweden, respectively. They are characterized by spirituality and metaphysical themes, long takes, lack of conventional dramatic structure and plot, and distinctively authored use of cinematography.

Tarkovsky became a film director during the mid and late 1950s, a period during which Soviet society opened to foreign films, literature and music. This allowed Tarkovsky to see films of European, American and Japanese directors, an experience which influenced his own film making. Tarkovsky was fascinated by Japanese films.

Tarkovsky’s films are characterised by memorable images of exceptional beauty. Recurring motifs are dreams, memory, childhood, running water accompanied by fire, rain indoors, reflections, levitation, and characters re-appearing in the foreground of long panning movements of the camera.

Tarkovsky developed a theory of cinema that he called ‘sculpting in time.’ By this he meant that the unique characteristic of cinema as a medium was to take our experience of time and alter it. Unedited movie footage transcribes time in real time. By using long takes and few cuts in his films, he aimed to give the viewers a sense of time passing, time lost, and the relationship of one moment in time to another.

Up to, and including, his film ‘The Mirror,’ Tarkovsky focused his cinematic works on exploring this theory. After ‘The Mirror,’ he announced that he would focus his work on exploring the dramatic unities proposed by Aristotle: a concentrated action, happening in one place, within the span of a single day.

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