Andrei Tarkovsky.RIA Novosti
“To me he is God,” says Lars von Trier about the Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky. In an interview with the magazine Time Out London, von Trier says he has seen Tarkovsky’s 1975 film The Mirror 20 times.
Beginning on May 20 Brits will have a chance to watch The Mirror, as well as another six Tarkovsky masterpieces in cinemas across the UK.
The film program is called, Andrei Tarkovsky: Sculpting Time, and it will show digital restorations of the legendary Russian auteur’s films. The screenings, as well as new posters and trailers for the movies, were prepared by Curzon Artificial Eye, a British cinema company that is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary.
“We are extremely proud and excited to be unveiling this program of stunning new restorations of Andrei Tarkovsky’s groundbreaking work,” James King, the head of theatrical sales of Curzon Artificial Eye, told RBTH. “One of the main aims of ‘Sculpting Time’ is to open these important films up to new audiences around the country, viewing them through a contemporary lens in the hopes that they will inspire a new generation of filmgoers and filmmakers for years to come.”
One of world’s most visionary, celebrated and influential filmmakers at the time of his tragic death at the age of 54, Tarkovsky made just seven features. All of them are metaphysical and spiritual explorations of humanity and each film is recognized worldwide as an artistic masterpiece. His films have had an influence on film directors from Lars Von Trier to Andrei Zvyagintsev with their beauty and philosophical silence.
Tarkovsky’s first feature, Ivan’s Childhood (1962), tells the story of 12-year-old Ivan who, orphaned by Hitler’s invading troops, becomes a scout for the Soviet Army, risking his life slipping between the marshy front lines. Ivan’s Childhood won Tarkovsky notice in the West by being awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
Tarkovsky’s next film displayed an enormous advance in his technique. Andrei Rublev (1966) is an episodic film depicting eight moments in the life of Rublev, a 15th century Russian icon painter. The film was interpreted by many as an allegory for the plight of the artist under the Soviet regime and consequently it was not released commercially in Russia for a number of years.
Tarkovsky’s critically acclaimed adaptation of Polish writer Stanislaw Lem’s science fiction novel Solaris (1972) tells the story of a scientist sent to investigate mysterious events on a space station orbiting the planet Solaris. On arrival the scientist finds his dead wife alive in his cabin and tries to destroy her, but – as is the way in this unnerving science fiction classic – she keeps coming back.
The Mirror (1975) is arguably the key film in Tarkovsky’s canon and as close to poetry as cinema gets. The fragmented memories of dying poet Alexei form this haunting autobiographical reverie, which interweaves poems by Tarkovsky’s father Arseny, a noted Soviet-era poet. The film’s kaleidoscopic approach offers no straight narrative and combines incidents, dreams and memories along with newsreel footage.
Tarkovsky’s final film made in Russia before his emigration to Italy was another science fiction film – 1979’s “Stalker.” The “stalker” in the film is a guide who agrees to take the “writer” and the “professor” into the forbidden “zone,” an area of hidden danger that contains a room that grants visitors their innermost desires. Paths through the desolate area – as much a state of mind as a place – can only be sensed, not seen, in this metaphysical maze.
In the early 1980s, Tarkovsky left Russia for good. His filmmaking career was revived again in Italy where he made a TV documentary Tempo di viaggio (1983) followed by Nostalghia (1983), written in collaboration with the distinguished Italian screenwriter Tonino Guerra. In Nostalghia a Russian writer tours Tuscany with his translator, researching a suicidal 18th century Russian composer. Homesickness and despair frustrate him until he meets Domenico, a madman, who convinces him to take on a task – walking a lit candle from one end of a spa pool to the other – in order to “save the world.”
By the time Tarkovsky started work on his next and final film, The Sacrifice (1986) he knew he was seriously ill with cancer. A Swedish production, The Sacrifice is an allegory of self-sacrifice in which a man played by Erland Josephson gives up everything he holds dear to avert a nuclear catastrophe. The use of Josephson and cinematographer Sven Nykvist, both of whom were best known for their collaborations with Ingmar Bergman, indicate the influence of the Swedish director, one of the few directors that Tarkovsky really admired.
Find the schedule and ticket information here: www.tarkovsky.co.uk.
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