A tribute to Tarkovsky
Fall film series pays homage to the renowned Russian filmmaker
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 09:10
This fall, the Cinema and Media Studies (CAMS) program presents “Slow is for the Soul,” a film series that focuses on the work of Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky. Beginning with the showing of Tarkovsky’s “Ivan’s Childhood” on Sunday, Sept. 16 in Collin’s Cinema, the film series will close with the showing of Aleksandr Sukurov’s “Russian Ark” on Sunday, Dec. 2.
“Slow is for the Soul” celebrates the inspirational cinematic style developed by Tarkovsky as well as the deep contemplation his films have fostered among global audiences. Three of Tarkovsky’s films, as well as three additional films by other directors who influenced his work or were inspired by Tarkovsky, are presented as part of the film series.
The decision to focus on Tarkovsky’s films for this semester’s film series began with a request from the English department to do a joint event on the novel, Geoff Dyer’s “Zona,” which examines Tarkovsky’s acclaimed film “Stalker” through a step-by-step detailing of the film. “When [the CAMS department] found out that ‘Stalker’ was going to be addressed, we said,
‘Okay, let’s watch the movie, and why not get the public more knowledgeable [about] the films by Tarkovsky?’” said CAMS professor Maurizio Viano.
Professor Winifred Wood, also from the CAMs department, states that as co-director of the CAMS department with Viano, it is of paramount importance to both that the department offer something to the entire College community.
Wood said that she has been interested in showing Tarkovsky films prior to the English department’s invitation. “Tarkovsky is the kind of director that makes you just want to sit and watch, and soak him up and dedicate the time to do it,” said Wood. To Wood, Collins Cinema provided the perfect environment for Tarkovsky’s work to be viewed on a big-screen and discussed.
Professors Viano and Wood hold Tarkovsky in high esteem, both because of the enormous influence his films have established and also due to what Viano deems, “The sheer beauty of [Tarkovsky’s] films.”
“Anyone who teaches film has enormous respect for this director. There is a political reason… [Tarkovsky] always stands out as someone who would stick to his guns. There is also the fact that he was the advocate for an uncompromising art cinema,” Viano said.
In filming or submitting the script for several of his films, Tarkovsky was heavily restricted by the Soviet authorities. “I cannot help but ask why they persecute me so,” said Tarkovsky when seeking political asylum in the 1980s. Ranked by Time as one of the top ten persecuted artists in the world, Tarkovsky’s untimely death in 1986, at the peak of his career, was a dramatic end for a man who led an eventful political life.
Tarkovsky’s films have been ranked as masterpieces of great cinema not only for their stylistic grandeur but also for the deep spiritual resonance they’ve inspired among audiences everywhere.
Tarkovsky himself was inspired by the French filmmaker Robert Bresson, whose films are known for their austere, spiritual quality that featured questions on the meaning of life. Bresson’s film “Money” was shown as part of the film series on Sunday, Sept. 30.
Viano believes that the spiritual elements in Tarkovsky’s films goes beyond the artist’s Christianity. “There remains a sense of spirituality in the main questions like ‘what the hell are we doing here’…which are questions we all ask when we have time, when Wellesley leaves us the time to ask these questions,” Viano said.
The spirituality of Tarkovsky’s films is an element that has not gone unnoticed in current generations of filmmakers and continues to appear in cinema today classified as “modern art.”