Daily Archives: April 16, 2018

Responses to Questions about Andrei Tarkovsky from Hossein Eidizadeh in November 2015

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Tarkovsky

 

1. Are Tarkovsky’s movies still new (by “NEW” I mean do you find new things in recent viewing of the films or surprised by them)? Can viewers/filmmakers still learn from them?

I find that all of Tarkovsky’s films remain new and full of surprises for me. They don’t “date” at all.

 

2. Should we look at Tarkovsky movies as spiritual movies, religious movies or modern films?

I would say that they’re both spiritual and modern. If they’re also religious, I can’t easily identify them as such.

 

3. Who/what influenced Tarkovsky’s cinema and which contemporary filmmakers are influenced deeply by his cinema?

Tarkovsky’s cinema, by his own account, was influenced by his father’s poetry, and most likely by other Russian poetry as well. I haven’t reread his book Sculpting in Time recently, but I recall that he had a great deal of reverence for Dovzhenko and Bergman, among others; I don’t know whether or how much they may have influenced him directly. 

 

As for the influence of Tarkovsky on other filmmakers, I could cite Béla Tarr and, more recently, Alex Garland in his film Ex Machina, which is clearly indebted to Solaris. There are undoubtedly many others, but these are the first names that spring to mind.Read more »

SPRINGTIME IN A SMALL TOWN: A Reinvented Remake

From The Guardian (June 6, 2003). Happily,  Fei Mu’s 1948 masterpiece is now available on a decent DVD with English subtitles from the BFI, released three years ago.– J.R.

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If I had to pinpoint what makes so much of contemporary life intolerable, something I’d call remake mentality might head the top of the list. The mindset that dictates that anything new has to be a recycling of something familiar — that old markets be exhausted before any new ones are contemplated, and that viewers be regarded as mindless brats demanding only more of the same — is so common by now that it has become fully internalised, and not only within the film industry.

The fact that we’re supposed to be looking forward to two sequels to The Matrix in the same year implies that we are fixed marketing units, programmed to relish staying in our well-appointed ruts. But there are just as many spinoffs predicated on our ignorance of the originals, suggesting that the avoidance of fresh thinking may not simply be our own. So I had my share of worries when I first heard that one of my favourite Chinese film-makers, Tian Zhuangzhuang, the director of The Horse Thief (1985) and The Blue Kite (1992), was remaking a Chinese classic.… Read more »

Watch with Mother [on Carl Dreyer]

From The Guardian (May 30, 2003). –J.R.

For roughly two decades, my three favourite dramatic features have all been the work of the same man — and my favourite among these depends almost entirely on which one I’ve seen most recently. I came to know and love them in reverse order: first the incandescent and subtly erotic Gertrud (1964), discovered in my early 20s shortly after it premiered; then the gut-wrenching Ordet (1955), which I initially hated when I first saw it in my teens, misconstruing its climactic miracle as a tool of religious propaganda; and finally the voluptuous and mysterious Day of Wrath (1943), which I didn’t appreciate or understand until my 40s, when I finally saw it in a decent 35mm print.

Like all the greatest artists, Carl Theodor Dreyer demands to be taken as a figure whose work continues to grow and change, quite irrespective of the fact that he died in 1968 at the age of 79, with many of his most cherished projects (most notably, a film about Jesus) unrealised. Fresh insights about his life and career keep coming to light: not only through biographical research; the emergence of new prints (such as the remarkable 1981 rediscovery of the original 1927 version of The Passion of Joan of Arc in an Oslo mental hospital); but also through the uncanny fact that his films seem to grow more multilayered, ambiguous, and complex over time.Read more »