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May 01, 2011


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warren oates

I heartily agree with Glenn about screening Tarkovsky films repeatedly and getting more out of each viewing. For a long time I had a problem with STALKER because seeing it for the first time was the single most incredible viewing experience of my young life and I was afraid that it wouldn't be as good if I saw it again. Happily, I've been wrong about that too on multiple occasions since.


I like ETERNITY AND A DAY, one of my favorite movies of 1998, which is admitedly not one of my favorite years. But Stuart Klawans in his otherwise favorable Nation review did suggest that Angelopoulos can be a little hard to take. And it is true that Tarkovsky does take some getting used to. I recall Andrew O'Hehir commenting that when he first saw ANDREI RUBLEV he thought he was so bored he was going to die, while Jonathan Rosenbaum once said that he found THE MIRROR "almost completely opaque." And these are two of my favorite films.

How would one go about actually seeing LA REGION CENTRALE?


@Partisan - whatever you do, wait for a chance to see it on a big screen. I'm well aware what can be found on the internet these days, but LA REGION CENTRALE is not to be entered into lightly, or within reach of a couch. In keeping with the thread, I wouldn't suggest that the film is boring, per se. But, like a lot of experimental work, it is very interested in totally upending and challenging one's perceptions, including standard movie viewing habits (plot, narrative, etc). Much like Out 1, it's a film that has conquered a friend or two.


Of course the next big thing for Tarkovsky's Solaris is the Criterion Blu-Ray reissue with the original blue tinting restored in what were the black and white sequences of the earlier DVD issue.

Solaris is certainly the director's most accessible film - for all of its willful frustration of audience's desires (including one shot that seems to pay homage to Warhol's Sleep) it is still a sci-fi film, and one which often gets (albeit tenuously) compared to 2001. Even Ivan's Childhood does't resonate quite as strongly.

Stalker is a more difficult proposition but even that has recently 'inspired' a series of three fiendishly difficult FPS/adventure games for the PC.

Re: the comment about Linklater and shots referencing Tarkovsky - his first film included on the Criterion DVD of Slacker is even 'slower' and features an extended scene in a movie theatre where the lead character (Linklater himself) watches a sequence from Dreyer's Gertrud.


I thank you, Glenn, for your thoughtful words on Kois' article, which has annoyed me almost as much Bruce Weber's still unforgivable hatchet job on Fellini that appeared in the Times the week after the director's passing in 1993.


+1 on the admiration for Tarkovsky AND Angelopolous, and philistines be damned. The Weeping Meadow is one to catch, Glenn - the first of Theo's movies I'd seen, it also rocked me the hardest. And yes, there are long stretches that could easily be described as "boring" by anyone who wasn't interested in doing the legwork, as it were.

I've got to quibble with VM's point about Tarkovsky. One of the many things I took away from Sculpting in Time was that Tarkovsky did indeed desire a wide audience (most especially in Russia, where low attendance was often due more to censorship than lack of interest.) He understood that his films were different than mainstream entertainment, and that they could be regarded by many as "difficult," but there is a palpable sense that he hoped popular taste & consiousness would catch up with his work. I recall him claiming that some of the best encouragement he received as a director was reading letters from working Russian people who would remark on how deeply they were moved by a film as abstruse as Mirror. His films were personal indeed, but he remains a glowing testament to the power of the personal to access the universal.

Kent Jones

Partisan, you absolutely need to see LA REGION CENTRALE on a big screen. That goes for the rest of Snow too.

The persistent linkage between Tarkovsky and Angelopoulos is understandable and kind of misleading too - two very different filmmakers. Beyond that, I don't understand the point of trying to decide once and for all how much or how little Tarkovsky thought about audiences, or what that has to do with how many times one sees his films. I've never met a filmmaker who makes movies for him or herself, and whenever they speak that way it's a purely rhetorical/polemical gesture. And with any good film, one viewing is never enough - in a way, the same goes for mediocre and poor films, if you're interested in really understanding them as opposed to stamping them with seals of approval or rejection. As for the alleged opacity of MIRROR, I think it's ridiculous. I'm more moved by it every time I see it.


Can I rock the boat a little by saying how brilliant the Stephen Soderbergh remake was? Yeah, so sue me... It was on a hiding to nothing tho, no matter how great the cast, script, direction, soundtrack, sfx... it was still "that" Tarkovsky movie.
Hmmm...Maybe they should ask Michael Bay to do another remake so audiences can finally "get it"?

Glenn Kenny

@ Tudor: No boat-rocking taken. I am also a big fan of Steven's film. For various reasons it's not really appropriate for me to write on his work at any length but I will say one thing I see in it that I like is a sort of agnostic perspective on the same themes that Tarkovsky treated from the perspective of a believer, or someone who wanted to be a believer. Steven's picture is also a first-rate sci-fi thriller; that's an aspect of it a lot of the grapplers ignore. Also, I don't think it's talking too much out of school to say that Mr. Soderbergh in no way regards Tarkovsky's film as a "cultural vegetable."

That Fuzzy Bastard

An agnostic perspective on a religious film is exactly the right description of Soderbergh's Solaris (it's almost as though you were a pro at this!). Soderbergh's film is lovely, particularly thanks to Soderbergh's weirdly magical ability to get lifetime-best performances out of everyone who appears in his movie. And it's interesting to see a Tarkovsky film remade by a hugely talented artist with nearly the opposite of Tarkovsky's sensibility: very little interest in the natural and sensual worlds, but great interest in human interactions.

Dan Coyle

Solaris deserves credit for being the first Jeremy Davies film that didn't end with me nursing a desire to murder Jeremy Davies.


Is it even possible to see LA REGION CENTRALE if you don't live in New York City?

Jeffrey Higgins

@Partisan: I once saw it in Chicago...

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