Poll

What's your favorite film by Andrei Tarkovsky?

The Steamroller and the Violin
1 (2.3%)
Ivan's Childhood
3 (7%)
Andrei Rublev
7 (16.3%)
Solaris
10 (23.3%)
The Mirror
4 (9.3%)
Stalker
12 (27.9%)
Voyage in Time
0 (0%)
Nostalghia
1 (2.3%)
The Sacrifice
1 (2.3%)
Haven't seen any
3 (7%)
Don't like any
1 (2.3%)

Total Members Voted: 41

Author Topic: Tarkovsky, Andrei  (Read 6879 times)

don s.

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Re: Director's Best: Andrei Tarkovsky
« Reply #20 on: February 12, 2013, 11:32:10 AM »
The Mirror, Solaris, and Andrei Rublev could get my vote depending on when you asked me. (I realize nobody actually asked.) Today, it's The Mirror, because I've been thinking about it lately. Also love Nostalghia (first DVD I ever owned) and Stalker. Own but haven't yet watched: Ivan's Childhood and The Sacrifice.
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Antares

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Re: Director's Best: Andrei Tarkovsky
« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2013, 06:07:48 PM »
Ivan's Childhood

I definitely need to see more
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1SO

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Re: Director's Best: Andrei Tarkovsky
« Reply #22 on: June 04, 2014, 09:00:36 PM »
The Mirror
* * 1/2
(rating tentative)
I can sit on this for a day or two before I post something, but I'd still be grasping air for meaning. It's about as enigmatic a film as I've seen, certainly equal to Last Year at Marienbad. I thought of keeping it super short and just writing "Difficult difficult lemon difficult," but that isn't giving proper credit to the film's good points, in particular its imagery.


Above are two frames from the same camera move. Notice the detail, the slight haze to the image and most importantly the texture. The Mirror is a masterpiece of textural photography if nothing else. By now we've all seen every possible camera placement and movement. This is one of the most beautifully photographed films of all time, which doesn't mean it's one of the most beautiful. Just that the lead pace is okay because you want to stop and look around. Especially since there's no plot, so this is what you got.

The no plot aspect, well it's difficult for me and the main reason for the mixed rating. The film is clearly about something involving memories and reflecting on the past. With more time and more viewings I could crack it, however, like Primer I'm not anxious to do the work. Tarkovsky's emotional disconnect is so remote as to be off-putting. A film as personal in subject as it is impersonal in presentation.
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Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Director's Best: Andrei Tarkovsky
« Reply #23 on: June 04, 2014, 09:21:13 PM »
I like some Tarkovsky, but I agree that this one is too elusive and very pretty. I much prefer Stalker and Rublev to The Mirror.

1SO

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Tarkovsky, Andrei
« Reply #24 on: July 01, 2014, 01:06:38 AM »
1. Stalker
2. The Mirror
3. Andrei Rublev
4. Solaris
5. Ivan's Childhood
6. Nostalghia

7. The Sacrifice
« Last Edit: November 22, 2018, 12:54:10 AM by 1SO »
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1SO

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Re: Director's Best: Andrei Tarkovsky
« Reply #25 on: July 01, 2014, 01:24:25 AM »
The Sacrifice
* 1/2

When building my watchlist for June, I knew I wanted to bookend the month with two major shames (according to ICM) by Tarkovsky. Normally it would be unwise to watch two from Tarkovsky so close together. His films tend to take months before settling into an opinion. However, I'm glad for the experience of The Mirror, which when compared to The Sacrifice gives me the courage to call this one a major misstep and a bad film experience.

Tarkovsky scripts are often given a lot of leeway because he's working on themes that make narrative damn near incomprehensible. These are not real people and they are not in a real situation. Everything represents something deeper than pure storytelling. The Sacrifice's plot boils down to a simple fable about living without God in your life. Because of its star and cinematographer, this is compared to Bergman, which means I have little right tackling two monumental filmographies having on seen the film once. However, I think Bergman questions the existence of God in his films, while Tarkovsky here is saying that God does exist and how dare you doubt that.

Getting back to the script, which takes the scenic route on every scene. There is no reason for this film to be this long. I know I am not known for my patience with long films, but I am getting better and that's actually not my point here. I'm saying that this story, this fable, this parable would work best in a short format. Tarkovsky often creates startling effects within a measured pace, but highlights are few and far between, and it is completely the wrong way to approach this idea. The whipped air between the candy surface and the creamy center is so vast that it would be comical if it wasn't so punishing.

I would be surprised to read Bergman approved of or appreciated this film. It's as out of step for both titans as Lasseter singing the praises of Hayao Miyazaki and then making Cars. I also think some of the performances are terrible, meeting a theatrical presentation with an equally stage-like, method style of performance.
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1SO

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Re: Director's Best: Andrei Tarkovsky
« Reply #26 on: August 23, 2014, 08:51:45 AM »
A worthy repost.



Stalker (1979)

My favorite director living or dead is Sergio Leone, whom Ebert said has a "way of savoring the last morsel of every scene."  Well, Andrei Tarkovsky goes even further, cleaning the plate one crumb at a time and then holding on the empty plate until you realize what a fine piece of porcelain it is.  I wonder how he decides when to cut to something else and whether or not his editor exhales in relief at the decision.  (Stalker contains not more than 142 shots in 163 minutes.)

I discovered Andrei Tarkovsky in film school when I was invited to watch the Director's Cut of Solaris, hailed as an even better take on 2001.  It was a brand new theater print and I was very excited.  The film opens with a lengthy shot of tall grass that didn't go with the dialogue at all.  Early on is an endless shot behind a car driving through a city.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  I mean, what was I supposed to be getting from this?  I blamed it on the extended cut and left the theater before the film even left Earth.

Many years later I watched Soderbergh's comparably brief remake, which I liked.  It got me curious enough to return to Tarkovsky's original.  Now that I had the basic skeleton, I at least knew where the film was headed.  I was determined to finish and considered it a great achievement when I reached the end.  I didn't even despise it anymore.  There's some good stuff to think about, but I think Soderbergh said the same thing a lot more efficiently.

Thanks to Filmspotting (then Cinecast) I ventured to watch Andrei Rublev, which baffled and bored me in equal measure.  I still have no idea what I saw except a filmmaker who really knew how to use a camera and had no idea how to tell a story.  By this time I knew of Stalker, and had seen images from the film, especially the striking visage of Alexandr Kajdanovsky, who plays the title character.  The film's reputation loomed over me and I was definitely intrigued by its claim of a Science Fiction film that uses no fantastical elements or special effects.  Before we we done professionally, Tarkovsky and I had to meet one last time.

Stalker was the easiest time I had sticking with Tarkovsky's pace.  I chalk this up to a combination of fairly straightforward plotting, and the fact that I was never more prepared for the slackness than here.  Not just because of two prior outings, but other recent leisurely films like Inglorious Basterds and Werckmeister Harmonies.  Harmonies in particular may have helped me past the mental walls put in place by Solaris' driving shot.  Not only did I not hold the pace against Stalker, I noticed a couple of places where the lingering brought about great effects. 

The finest example is when our characters enter "The Zone".  Three of them riding a makeshift rail car for a long time.  The camera slowly pans between their faces.  The background out of focus.  Then suddenly we shift to a view of their surroundings and the look goes from Black & Amber to color.  Throughout the Zone, the Stalker tells of invisible traps and the pace keeps tension underlying every step they take.  They pick up a stray dog and all during the journey I'm waiting for that damn beast to do something.

As for the film overall, I can't say for sure that I got it, but I definitely have a good idea what happens.  And I do think an interesting philosophical debate is raised.  It's the first Tarkovsky film I could see revisiting someday, maybe showing it to a friend.  He may not be what I like in a director, but I respect him and his process.
RATING: * * *
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oldkid

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Re: Director's Best: Andrei Tarkovsky
« Reply #27 on: August 23, 2014, 09:37:39 AM »
Andrei Rublev
Solaris
Stalker
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Re: Director's Best: Andrei Tarkovsky
« Reply #28 on: August 23, 2014, 05:56:11 PM »
The Sacrifice
* 1/2


Getting back to the script, which takes the scenic route on every scene. There is no reason for this film to be this long. I know I am not known for my patience with long films, but I am getting better and that's actually not my point here. I'm saying that this story, this fable, this parable would work best in a short format. Tarkovsky often creates startling effects within a measured pace, but highlights are few and far between, and it is completely the wrong way to approach this idea.

With comments like these, maybe you have to accept the possibility that you don't understand the film? These comments seem so contradictory to writing reviews for films. You're telling the film/director to fit inside your structure and your ideas of what film is instead of taking it in and figuring it out. Did you have the script in hand while watching the film? I highly doubt it. How do you know that this is the wrong way to approach this idea? And what idea is that, specifically?  Isn't assuming you know better rather... dogmatic?

1SO

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Re: Director's Best: Andrei Tarkovsky
« Reply #29 on: August 23, 2014, 07:47:35 PM »
I believe the comments reveal for me that I did not understand the film the way the filmmaker intended. That can pretty much be taken as a given here, unless there is a quote by Tarkovsky saying he wanted the film to be longer than necessary. That he wanted to take a short film idea and make a film as long as possible. That part of his technique here was to go far past the place where he would normally edit.

My fault is in not explaining better why this idea would work better in short form. It's that extra step beyond thumbs up/thumbs down that I sometimes often lack. Occasionally I write something that can be considered a review. My words on Stalker are closer to a review, but the overwhelming majority of what I write is just opinion.  I have never figured out why The Sacrifice is drawn out the way it is, but I still wanted to share my response to the movie I watched for those who care to read it.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2014, 08:27:18 PM by 1SO »
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