don’t turn a scientific problem into a common love story

Given the impact each viewing of Tarkovsky’s work has had on me, I cannot explain why it’s taken me ten years to watch four films. Maybe part of that can be attributed to watching The Sacrifice repeatedly. Maybe not.

Anyway, I need to take a little webspace to genuflect right now. Not to prowess, or achievement, or mastery, although I assume all of those must be present to create this kind of Stendhal-inducing work. Masterful filmmakers are not in short supply. However, from everything I have read, few if any have been able to create the particular experience Tarkovsky creates. I am admittedly prone to hyperbole, but on this topic, I risk writing stale if I employ concepts like spellbound, otherworldly, euphoric, and transcendental.

Of course, there are as many who have an experience of boredom, confusion, or impatience. Which is why my genuflecting webspace will be devoted to proselytizing thusly: many things which are good for you do not feel so good going in. If you are determined to reap the goodness, you must learn to find your way beyond the not good feeling. Tips:

  • “slow” can be good. Think food, think sex, think Tarkovsky. It’s a feast.
  • engage. Tarkovsky preferred mise en scene to montage, feeling that cuts are tricks. Instead of a steady conveyor belt of bite-sized meaning, you get an open field in which to wander, and joining you in the field at unpredictable intervals and angles will be various-sized meanings.
  • you think you are reading it, but you will read it differently as you go. What at first seems spooky will become romantic.

And what is the goodness to be reaped? Contemplative travel to some very rich and mystical ideas about life and death. Time distortion. Dreams, memory, magic.

But maybe you’re not up for that tonight. That’s cool too, you can totally just dig on the crocheted ponchos and the sound of the Russian language and the inexplicably floating chandeliers.

Oh, yes, the one that prompted this was Solyaris.


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