A monument to Andrei Tarkovsky was opened on the 29th July 2017 in Suzdal, where his epic, Andrei Rublev, was shot in 1965 … well over half a century ago. Andrei Tarkovsky was in my view the most important artist of the 20 century in any medium. Yes, that is a sweeping statement! … but I have just watched his films in the cinema – Solaris 3 times and Stalker twice in the course of the last week, and feel this claim is justified. I shall do my best to ‘contextualize’ (corrected from the original ‘justified’ – explained in Tarkovsky Monument 2) my hyperbole … and if I fail to persuade you … perhaps, you might at the very least, understand where I am coming from (my perspective or paradigm)!
The renowned Polish filmmaker, Krzysztof Zanussi attests (see minute 15.55 in the video below) that in that in deathbed conversation, Tarkovsky said to him, “If I happen to die, please whenever you talk about me, remind people I want to be remembered as a sinner, as somebody who committed many sins …. “ Andrei Tarkovsky was Christian in his conviction and I believe he was expressing, in this request, his subscription to the doctrine of original sin, which although different in nuance or even opposite in orientation is, in its essence, the same as Islamic fitrah (original purity), Buddhist dhukka (universal suffering) or Saiva pasam (attachment). In all his work Tarkovsky struggled to express, in historical and psychological terms, this metaphysical understanding of the human condition, this oscillation, or extension, between fall and grace.
In his art, film, the quintessential 20th Century representational medium, becomes both a balm and a sacrament – an interface for healing and a window to salvation. Tarkovsky set this ameliorative and soteriological vehicle into motion in what Ingmar Bergman, has described as “a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream”. Tarkovsky is the exemplary post-traditionalist, he is utterly contemporary in his engagement with social history and psychology … and he is timeless in his grasp of the sacred. In his 7 technically and aesthetically masterful works Tarkovsky articulated this timelessness through his art of ‘sculpting in time‘!
(slightly edited, from a post made in JULY 25, 2017)