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 Post subject: Re: Andrei Tarkovsky
PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:06 pm 
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I think the first half hour or so of Solaris and Stalker might just be my favorite parts of those respective movies.


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 Post subject: Re: Andrei Tarkovsky
PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:29 pm 
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Really? I cannot stand watching the part of Solaris where the scientists question Captain Burton. A big flaw for me in an otherwise perfect movie.


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 Post subject: Re: Andrei Tarkovsky
PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:38 pm 
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I really like it. The way its intercut with the film that Burton took, those waves and weird shit. I gobble that shit right up for whatever reason. It's introducing all this bizarre stuff that's immediately intriguing in a way that a lot of the rest of the film isn't (which of course isn't to say that immediacy is automatically superior, but it just draws me in more I guess).

I think also the jump from long takes of green fields and pretty ponds to a black-and-white movie about space is pretty engrossing.


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 Post subject: Re: Andrei Tarkovsky
PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 11:08 pm 
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i never knew that, drew! i've always thought the only dull part of solaris was the freeway ride, and even that's not that bad. the questioning is supposed to represent the overly formal, dry, empiricist academics and bureaucrats... and kris is one of them in the beginning - he even sides with them, after watching the tape.


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 Post subject: Re: Andrei Tarkovsky
PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 11:16 pm 
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George wrote:
i've always thought the only dull part of solaris was the freeway ride


I found this to be one of the most riveting parts of the movie the last time I watched it.


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 Post subject: Re: Andrei Tarkovsky
PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 11:26 pm 
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To be clear, what is actually said and what happens on paper in that scene is fascinating and necessary to the film, and I admit I like looking at Burton's video, but it's more just the dry and boring way it was filmed and performed, with those obnoxious beeping noises (which reminds me of Alphaville) make it very hard for me to sit through, especially after the first time watching it. I do think it's an intentional effect on the part of Tarkovsky to contrast with every other scene in the film, as I mentioned in my review in the sci-fi thread, but that doesn't mean I enjoy watching it.

And while for me it's hard to choose favorite parts in a film that is so much about how it all works together, some of my favorite moments: the floating weeds, the freeway ride, the way the corridors in the spaceship echo the symmetry of the freeway ride, the way the camera moves on the paintings, everything about Hari's expression and mannerisms, the floating, and the stillness of the final scene.

Question: what is up with the interaction between the children at the beginning? And what is up with the horse?


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 Post subject: Re: Andrei Tarkovsky
PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 5:04 pm 
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Second time watching Stalker, I realized just how 'Russian' the film really is. Obviously, Led, you'll say. Bear with me, please. The stalker in a way represents the holy fool, I think. He isn't flattering to himself and people walk all over him for their own purposes, but he is closer to god/the zone than others and is able to take them there. He hates the world around him and is only at peace when he is in the zone. On the other side of the spectrum are the writer and the professor. I see them as the intelligentsia that built the world that they exist in, only to find it as boring and empty as the one they left behind. The broken down, (literally) Soviet-esque buildings and locales are made more drab by the sepia lighting, so any shred of romanticism is thrown out the window. The idea of thresholds is also really important with Stalker. Not just for framing purposes, but in a more cultural way also. George, hopefully you can help me out here where I stumble. The zone itself is a kind of threshold and Russians are superstitious about conversing through them, and being in a neutral state in a threshold is also a no-no. One must go through and not look back. Turgenev wrote a poem about it, which I can't find a suitable link for, so if you want to read it, I can just quote it here. It isn't very long at all. Anyways, thresholds are important. I lost my train of thought. More to come later.


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 Post subject: Re: Andrei Tarkovsky
PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 6:14 pm 
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Led for your Head wrote:
Second time watching Stalker, I realized just how 'Russian' the film really is.
you know, i always wonder how non-russians perceive tarkovsky's movies (and, well, all other russian/soviet movies)... at least western european mentality and culture (bergman, fellini, et al) are much closer to american.

Quote:
The stalker in a way represents the holy fool, I think. He isn't flattering to himself and people walk all over him for their own purposes, but he is closer to god/the zone than others and is able to take them there.
very good observation, and you're absolutely right... in russian orthodoxy they are called "yurodivy" and have a special place in society as prophets. (i don't remember if you saw the brilliant movie "island", which presents this very well)


Quote:
The zone itself is a kind of threshold and Russians are superstitious about conversing through them, and being in a neutral state in a threshold is also a no-no. One must go through and not look back. Turgenev wrote a poem about it, which I can't find a suitable link for, so if you want to read it, I can just quote it here. It isn't very long at all. Anyways, thresholds are important. I lost my train of thought. More to come later.
i don't think i've read the turgenev poem, so please do send it my way.
and you're very right about that aspect of russian superstition. i don't know if you've ever hung out with a russian (especially from rural areas), they are extremely superstitious, regarding just about everything. (of course that aspect has been dying out for a long time, and as you've probably noticed tarkovsky decries this in all his movies)
one example of this threshhold superstition is you're not supposed to stand in a doorway... always walk through it.... likewise, you should never do anything through a doorway (shake hands, give/receive things, etc.)

so the culturologist and psychologist in you may be on to something there, led.




Dreww wrote:
those obnoxious beeping noises (which reminds me of Alphaville) make it very hard for me to sit through, especially after the first time watching it. I do think it's an intentional effect on the part of Tarkovsky to contrast with every other scene in the film, as I mentioned in my review in the sci-fi thread, but that doesn't mean I enjoy watching it.
i remember tarkovsky saying he considered "solaris" a failure because the science-fiction "genre conventions" that he included were superfluous and distracting.

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Question: what is up with the interaction between the children at the beginning? And what is up with the horse?
you know the answer to what's up with the horse...

as for the children, notice the very aristocratic and cultured interaction between the boy and the girl... i think they play a similar role to the monkey in stalker... it seems to me represented to him something pure and unspoiled, compared to adults... (he did remark that children usually understand his movies much better than adults)
(also, the very high level of culture from both children is a positive reflection of their parents/grandparents - burton and kris's father, both of whose characters tarkovsky treats with great reverence in the movie, for what they stand for)


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 Post subject: Re: Andrei Tarkovsky
PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 6:26 pm 
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Here is the poem, and here are some of my thoughts on it.

Quote:
The Threshold

I see a great edifice. In front a portal opens wide. Beyond the portal I see a gloomy haze. Before the high threshold stands a girl . . . a Russian girl. Freezing winds blow from out of that impenetrable gloom and from the depths of the edifice comes a slow hollow voice:

"Oh, you, who wish to cross this threshold, do you know what awaits you?"

"I know," the girl replies.

"Cold, hunger, hatred, mockery, scorn, injury, sickness, even death."

"I know."

"Alienation, complete isolation."

"I know. I am ready. I shall bear all the sufferings, all the blows."

"Not only from enemies, but even from relatives, friends?"

"Yes-even from them.''

"Good. Are you ready for sacrifice?"

"Yes."

"For anonymous sacrifice? You will die, and no one will even know how to honor your memory. "

"I need neither thanks nor pity. I need no name."

"Are you ready to commit crimes ? "

The girl nodded her head.

"Do you know," the voice finally said, "that you may dissuade yourself of what you now believe, that you may come to understand that you have deceived yourself and have given your young life in vain?"

"I know that too. I still want to enter."

"Enter!"

The girl crossed the threshold and a heavy curtain fell over the entrance.

"Fool!" Said someone from behind it.

"Saint!" Came the answer from somewhere.


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 Post subject: Re: Andrei Tarkovsky
PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 1:01 am 
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To continue some of my thoughts. Stalker is pretty much impossible for me to 'rate' as a film. I could tell you that I like it better than x or less than y, but trying to come up with a numerical or quantifiable rating for a film that can vary so much per viewing seems worthless. It is so convenient for Tarkovsky that what I want to get out of the film is rarely what I get out of it. Silly subconscious. I get lost in so many trivial moments and then find myself lost in my own thoughts during the parts where I think that I should be paying attention. As for the actual philosophy of the film, I find myself unqualified, unwilling, and unable to talk about in too much depth. At least beyond what is literally stated. Mostly it just leaves me pondering. And that is better left to discussion rather than me contemplating it by myself, so if anyone has specific questions, I'd be glad to answer them or give my take on them.

One thing I was aware of was how little the camera moved at some times. And when it did, it moved in and out, rather than left, right, up or down. Viewing it in a cinematographic way, it could mean that we are getting closer or farther away from an item rather than getting the whole picture. It makes sense because nothing in the film is 360 degrees. So much is left to interpretation of the viewer, which obviously varies from case to case.

I'm pretty sure that I read it in Sanjy's review of Stalker, and I think it makes sense, that the dog is some kind of manifestation of God. The stalker at one point quotes the Bible (I think) that God walks among men unbeknownst to them. However, he only walks among the faithful and among those that deserve it or need it. The dog only comes about once the more metaphysical and existential questions come into play.

I would be very interested to know the reaction of one of our Far Eastern members to Stalker. I'm pretty limited to the Western point of view as much (re: little) as I know about Russian culture, and Russian culture/philosophy is a hodgepodge of east and west to begin with (re: impossible to pinpoint) so someone with the completely opposite point of reference would give, I think, a very enlightening perspective on the film.


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 Post subject: Re: Andrei Tarkovsky
PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 6:57 pm 
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Re-watched Stalker, some thoughts (posting in the Last Film You Saw thread as well, but figured it would generate more discussion here):

•I see the scene toward the end, where the Stalker is lying in bed talking to his wife, as a lamentation on the part of the Stalker that "God is dead" in the Nietzschean sense, i.e. as a remark on the contemporary state of belief (rather than an assertion of atheism). Only here it comes from an emotionally invested, religious perspective, rather than Nietzsche's more soberly analytic approach. (In this, I don't mean to say that Tarkovsky was inspired by Nietzsche. Rather, I have been reading a lot of Nietzsche lately and so I currently have a tendency to frame things in terms of his concepts, and this is a case where I see a parallel—Tarkovsky is exploring an idea Nietzsche already explored, but through a different medium, with a different perspective, and in a different mood.)

•One aspect of the movie I'd like to explore further is the use of train sounds, which are probably the most important and powerful part of the "soundtrack" of the movie. I call them part of the soundtrack because the rhythmic element of trains is emphasized repeatedly, and on at least two occasions in ways that interact with the actual soundtrack. The first I don't remember well (it comes near the beginning of the film, or at least in the first half). The second is at the very end, when the Hymn to Joy is playing, simultaneously drowned out and given a rhythmic pulse by the rhythm of a passing train. I don't know what role this plays in the movie, but I've found the imagery remarkably powerful—now I'd like to find out precisely why.


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 Post subject: Re: Andrei Tarkovsky
PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 7:29 pm 
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pnoom wrote:
Re-watched Stalker,
:eek: that soon! impressive. i can't watch a tarkovsky movie more than once a month or so. i find it important to space the viewings so as to let them simmer and linger for a while.

Quote:
•I see the scene toward the end, where the Stalker is lying in bed talking to his wife, as a lamentation on the part of the Stalker that "God is dead" in the Nietzschean sense, i.e. as a remark on the contemporary state of belief (rather than an assertion of atheism). Only here it comes from an emotionally invested, religious perspective, rather than Nietzsche's more soberly analytic approach. (In this, I don't mean to say that Tarkovsky was inspired by Nietzsche. Rather, I have been reading a lot of Nietzsche lately and so I currently have a tendency to frame things in terms of his concepts, and this is a case where I see a parallel—Tarkovsky is exploring an idea Nietzsche already explored, but through a different medium, with a different perspective, and in a different mood.)
you're absolutely right. in fact, perhaps the biggest impetus behind every tarkovsky movie is decrying the loss of spirituality and religiosity in modern society. he was himself a deeply religious man (russian orthodox, nominally, but he explored and accepted other religions and philosophies equally), and likened every one of his movies to a prayer. and he did wrestle with nietzsche, too - to what degree, i'm not sure - but one of his quotes is explored in his last movie ("the sacrifice").
one more point to make is - notice the humongous wall behind them at their home, comprised entirely of books. i think it's meant to dispel any notion of the stalker as someone who is superstitious just because he doesn't know any better - the man is every bit as well-read and an intellectual as the writer and the professor. (in that sense making him a yurodivy in the truest sense)

as for the imagery of train sounds... perhaps they're meant to evoke a sense of taking a journey - as a spiritual odyssey... the zone as a journey of self-discovery... a journey through life...

ledward, i shall read both the original poem and the commentary this evening and post a reply.


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 Post subject: Re: Andrei Tarkovsky
PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 7:40 pm 
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I've spent the last couple days in varying intensities of "I need to watch Stalker" moods, and today I finally I had the time to do it. I imagine that once I know the movie better I'll be like you in that I can't watch it too frequently, but when a work of art is nagging at my brain the way Stalker has been I need to actually experience it again so I can have the details there, and not just the vague nagging.

I hadn't noticed the wall of books, but I think that's a good point. Do you know if Tarkovsky ever wrestled with Kierkegaard? I see them as somewhat kindred spirits.

I think your analysis of the train sounds is good and I thought of it myself, but I do wonder if they serve any further purpose.

While on the subject of Nietzsche, I'm interested in your take on Tarkovsky's work in light of this particular Nietzsche quote (from Human, All Too Human):

Quote:
220. Transcendence in art. Not without deep sorrow do we admit to ourselves that artists of all times, at their most inspired, have transported to a heavenly transfiguration precisely those ideas that we now know to be false: artists glorify mankind's religious and philosophical errors, and they could not have done so without believing in their absolute truth. Now, if belief in such truth declines at all, if the rainbow colors around the outer edges of human knowledge and imagination fade; then art like The Divine Comedy, Raphael's paintings, Michelangelo's frescoes, Gothic cathedrals, art that presumes not only a cosmic but also a metaphysical meaning in the art object, can never blossom again. There will some day be a moving legend that such an art, such an artistic faith, once existed.

This maybe applies less to Stalker, but the last sentence in particular seems like a rather apt description of Andrei Rublev.


Random other thing: the Writer putting on the "crown of thorns" when he does his whole forgiveness spiel is an incredible image, and beautifully shows his attitude toward religion: it's a tool for irony, nothing more.


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 Post subject: Re: Andrei Tarkovsky
PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:23 pm 
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pnoom wrote:
I hadn't noticed the wall of books, but I think that's a good point. Do you know if Tarkovsky ever wrestled with Kierkegaard? I see them as somewhat kindred spirits.
i don't know... never seen kierkegaard mentioned in any of tarkovsky's bios... but you're right, i think he's the closest in spirit to tarkovsky, of all the major philosophers.

you picked a very apt quote to discuss regarding tarkovsky... not sure why you picked "andrei rublev", in particular, as i think it applies to his entire ouvre... he seems to be the last of a dying breed... i can't really think of any other filmmaker who took his work so seriously, who considered it of such importance, who felt so much moral responsibility, who both sincerely believed and strived to believe in transcendence and meaningfulness of art, who was such a spiritual person and artist. (parajanov and brakhage are the only big names who come close, off the top of my head)
i honestly can't think of anyone else.... even artists who are among my all-time favorites create some of their work with a sense of irony.... detachment.... even paco de lucia, whom i admire endlessly as an artist, admits that the stereotype of "a suffering artist" is bullshit and actually a kind of con trick (a very sophisticated one, of course).

btw this was written during nietzsche's early/middle period in his evolution as a philosopher... i think his last few works contain a significant amount of this faith in the metaphysical meaning of his work, which by then was becoming more mystical, more romantic, more desperate... (so that quote applies as much to tarkovsky as it does to nietzsche himself!)


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 Post subject: Re: Andrei Tarkovsky
PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:50 pm 
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I picked Andrei Rublev specifically because it centers around religious art and the relationship of religion to art, and so it comes closest to Nietzsche's "moving legend" that's specifically about artistic faith. The only other Tarkovsky I've seen so far is Stalker (that will change soon enough), and I think it's less of a meditation about the relationship between religion and art specifically, and so the quote applies less literally. I agree that it can be seen as a moving legend about faith and belief in general, but not specifically with respect to art, which is the context of the Nietzsche quote. Perhaps it applies to Tarkovsky the artist on the whole extremely well (which is what your description seems to support), but I was thinking in the context of specific films, since I haven't really looked into Tarkovsky's life yet.

I'm currently reading Nietzsche's major works in chronological order so I haven't really engaged with his later works much (I've read Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Beyond Good and Evil, and Ecce Homo, but none of them terribly closely). Certainly one of the aspects of his philosophy that most intrigues me is his relationship to faith and myth. I was in fact quite surprised by how Dawkins-esque he sounded at times in Human, All Too Human (if far more eloquent).


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