Sanne Kabalt

On Tarkovsky

Sanne Kabalt

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Lately I’ve been thinking and reading about Andrei Tarkovsky - the Russion filmdirector - in the books Sculpting in Time and Tarkovsky; Films, Stills, Polaroids & Writings. I’ve been deeply touched by his movies that I’ve seen so far (3/7).

In Sculpting in Time Tarkovsky quotes some letters that he received from his audience:

A woman civil engineer wrote from Leningrad: ‘I saw your film, Mirror. I sat through to the end, despite the fact that after the first half hour I developed a severe headache as a result of my genuine efforts to analyse it, or just to have some idea of what was going on, of some connection between the characters and events and memories… . We poor cinema-goers see films that are good, bad, very bad, ordinary or highly original. But any of these one can understand, and be delighted or bored as the case may be; but this one?! …’ An equipment engineer from Kalinin was also terribly indignant: ‘Half an hour ago I came out of Mirror. Well!! … Comrade director! Have you seen it? I think there’s something unhealthy about it…I wish you every success in your work, but we don’t need films like that.’

(…) A woman wrote from Gorky: ‘Thank you for Mirror. My childhood was like that… . Only how did you know about it? There was that wind, and the thunderstorm … “Galka, put the cat out,” cried my Grandmother… . It was dark in the room … And the paraffin lamp went out, too, and the feeling of waiting for my mother to come back filled my entire soul … And how beautifully your film shows the awakening of a child’s consciousness, of this thought! … And Lord, how true … we really don’t know our mothers’ faces. And how simple … You know, in that dark cinema, looking at a piece of canvas lit up by your talent, I felt for the first time in my life that I was not alone …’

(…) A teacher from Novosibirsk wrote: ‘I went to a discussion of the film. (…) And everyone who spoke said, “The film is about me.” ’

I find it fascinating how some people can walk out on a movie like that, while others watch it a hundred times; how some people need to understand something, while others need to feel it.

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