Andrei Tarkovsky: formation • Son of a poet, Arsenii Tarkovsky. • Andrei’s mother was educated as a writer at the Literary Institute, but destroyed all her works “for lack of talent.” • Studied music and art while at school; for a year, studied Arabic (the Oriental Institute, Moscow). • Graduated from the State Institute of Cinematography in Moscow (VGIK), film-directing-program, in 1960.
Creative activity Influences: • Almost no Russian directors; French New Wave and Italian neorealism; • Michaelangelo Antonioni; Ingmar Bergman; Akiro Kurosawa and other Japanese directors; Louis Bunuel; Robert Bresson, etc. – the “author’s cinema”: director should be also the scriptwriter. Work beside cinema: • screenplays; • directing Hamlet in theatre (Moscow, 1976) • directing the opera Boris Godunov (London,1983); • a book on film theory, Sculpting in Time (1986)
Tarkovsky and Eisenstein • Deep antipathy to and polemic with Eisenstein. • Tarkovsky on Eisenstein’s cinema: “The film-maker deprives the audience of the possibility of using their own attitude towards what they have seen. … the means of construction of the image become a goal in itself; as for the director, he launches a massive assault on the spectator, imposing on him/her his own attitude towards the events.” • Cf. Eisenstein: “Cinema, like the theatre, can only be understood as ‘one form of violence’.”
Andrei Tarkovsky • Left the USSR in 1984. Died in Paris. • Long list of international awards, but just one (as a student) in the USSR; the Lenin Prize posthumously (1990). • One of the greatest cinéastes of the 20th cent. His work is among achievements of the “Stagnation” (the epoch that followed the Thaw).
Tarkovsky Quotes • “The artist exists because the world is not perfect”; • “Art would be useless if the world were perfect”; • “Art is born out of ill-designed world”; • “Cinema is an unhappy art since it depends on money.”
Films: • The Steamroller and the Violin 1960 • Ivan's Childhood 1962 • Andrei Rublev 1966. Shown at Cannes 1967, released for (limited) screening in USSR in 1971(censored version). Released in full in 1987. • Solaris rel. 1972 • Mirror rel. 1974 • Stalker rel. 1979 • Nostalghia 1983 (Italy) • Sacrifice 1986 (Sweden).
Tarkovsky’s Art • Bergman claimed that Tarkovsky invented a new cinematic language: dreamlike, true to the nature of film. • Poetic realism: the long shot, less montage, no rapid-cut editing. • Fantasy, dreams and the telescoping of time (sculpting in time) - the flashback unmarked. • Anti-narrative in the Hollywood/Socialist-Realist sense. • Measured use of colour (chromatic Epilogue in AR). • Metapoetic (self-reflective). • Recurrent motifs (i.e., horses, levitation/flying, milk, water). • Metaphysical themes.
Andrei Rublev(1966) “The Passion(s) According to Andrei
Who was Andrei Rublev? • Most famous Russian icon painter (ca.1360-1430). • Most icon painters anonymous. • In film we see him and an older icon painter Theophanes the Greek. • Icon painters usually monks; painting of icon a result of prayer and spiritual journey.
“The Trinity” • Depicts three angels visiting Abraham, described in Genesis 18 • Called the Trinity, since it is considered a metaphor for the Holy Trinity (God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Ghost) which could not be depicted directly. • Look out for the references in the film to the trinity and two symbolic triads.
Andrei Rublev: poetic • Naturalism, not realism. Episodic narrative structure. • Metaphorical connections between the episodes and shots. • The title character is not the centre of each episode. • Viewer=witness. Frame within a frame (i.e., windows). • Individual point of view: flying camera in the first episode; emotional connection to the character. • Rubs our nose in the cruelty of life. Necessary for the life-affirming message at the end.
Andrei Rublev: themes • The inability to learn from one’s predecessors. • The creative personality: Andrei Rublev, the Jester, the architects, Boriska the bell-maker. • Andrei’s need to identify with the people. • the cruelty of life and of the lords, esp. towards the artists: the skomorokh (jester) who is smashed against a tree, the stonemason who has his eyes put out. • Treachery between brothers and brotherly love.
Two Andreis In the film, Andrei Rublev says that people live through hardships, endure them all, just praying God to give them enough strength; the last words recorded by Andrei Tarkovsky in his diary shortly before his death were: “But now I have no strength left – that is the problem.”
Mark 14, 65-72 (King James Version) And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands. And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.
1 Corinthians 13: 1-13(charity or love?) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Andrei Rublev Episodes • The title: Passion(s) According to Andrei. • Part I and II • 205 minutes in director’s cut • Prologue • 7 episodes and Epilogue.
Andrei Rublev Prologue • Efim’s flight in the hot-air balloon: away from the church tower • The joy of creation: the balloon episode at the beginning - flight leading to death • Individual point of view: flying camera (helicopter shot) in the first episode; emotional connection to the character • Ends with shot of horse
The Jester – Summer 1400 • Three icon painters leave Trinity monastery: Kirill, Daniil and Andrei • Shelter from rain in hut • Jester entertains the people with bawdy song about the nobleman • Kirill betrays jester to Lord’s men • Jester smashed against tree, arrested
The figure of an artistThe jester (skomorokh) • The importance of looking and seeing (the function of an artist): Andrei looks at the jester – connection between artists (while Daniil is reading/sleeping) • Artist as a messenger: apostle Andrew (Andrei). • The jester as a inverted Christ-like figure (telling truth leads to crucifixion); Kirill as Judas. • Biblical reference: the rooster’s cry.
Theophanes the GreekSummer Winter Spring Summer 1405-1406 • Old master icon-painter • Cannot tell Andrei how to live and paint: impossibility of learning from one’s predecessors • Kirill’s jealousy at Andrei’s skill • Kirill leaves monastery when Andrei is summoned to Moscow instead of him
Andrei vs Theophanes • Theophanes: “Today they praise you, tomorrow they abuse you, and they forget you the day after tomorrow”; “I work for God, not for people”; “If Jesus returned to earth, they would crucify him again.” • Andrei defends people; crucifixion is re-enacted during the conversation; Andrei “crucified” by pagans, but forgives them.
The Festival Spring 1406 • Andrei travelling on river • Encounter people celebrating pagan ritual of spring • Dancing naked, sexual orgy, plunging into river • Celebrants tie up Andrei as if in a crucifixion • Andrei tempted by woman Martha • In the morning turns away as she is persecuted
The Last Judgement Summer 1408 • Andrei in Moscow to decorate church • Has lost will to create • Architects set off to Zvenigorod to decorate palace of Prince’s brother • Attacked by Prince’s men: eyes put out
The Raid Autumn 1408 • Tatars combine with Prince to attack his brother’s city of Vladimir • Flashback to reconciliation of two brothers year previously • Taking of the cathedral • Andrei kills a Russian who wants to rape Durochka (the idiot girl) • Visited by Theophanes’ ghost • Andrei decides not to paint any more: people are vicious and don’t need art. • Theophanes calls this decision a sin. • Andrei takes vow of silence
Faith in people lost • The Tartars, supported by a treacherous prince, sack Vladimir. The split nation. “Brothers, what are you doing?” – the theme of (violated) brotherhood. What does this remind us of? • Animal cruelty, violence. How is this violence different from that in action and horror movies?
After the massacre • A figure of a man who kills a Russian and saves the holy fool (durochka). Later we find out it was Andrei. Crime and punishment: “Live between divine forgiveness and your own torment.” • Three persons left: an artist, a holy fool and a ghost. • Another dialogue between Andrei and Theophanes: Andrei claims he was mistaken back then and doesn’t believe in people any more. Th. replies it’s he who used to be wrong.
Andrei’s disillusionment • “How long will it go on like that?” - “Don’t know. Most likely forever.” • “Nothing is more terrible than snow falling in a temple.” • Andrei’s (artist’s) role as a witness.
Charity/ Love Winter 1412 • Monastery is haunted by famine • Tatars come, one carries away Durochka • The holy fool seduced by a Tartar “devil” • Andrei fails to save her soul: his disillusionment seems final • Kirill returns to the monastery after wandering
The Bell • Boriska volunteers to create a bell for the prince • Jester accuses Andrei of betrayal; Kirill declares it was him • Kirill pleads with Andrei not to suppress his talent • Bell is created, rings • Boriska confides to Andrei that he did not know his father’s secret of bellmaking
The Bell and Spring • Another artist, a young bell-maker’s son, creates a perfect masterpiece against all odds. • The symbolism of spring (Christian aspect: Resurrection, Easter). • Redemption by art (both for people and an artist). • Andrei breaks his vow of silence : “You’ll cast bells, I’ll paint icons.” • The Epilogue: icons by Andrei Rublev. The image of horses (see the Prologue).
Epilogue • Camera pans across the surface of Rublev’s icons • Choral music • Concludes with Trinity, Christ • Final shot of horses in rain