Tuesday, July 07, 2009

"Revisiting Tarkovsky": Lincoln Center, July 7-14

Extraordinary images.

The video originates at the Lincoln Centre Film Society website, where they've just launched a retrospective of films by the Russian master Andrei Tarkovsky, running from July 7 - 14. (I really do need to move to New York.)

I saw THE SACRIFICE during its original run at The Ridge. I had little idea what I was in for, went in knowing nothing about the story I was about to see, and I'm glad of that: every moment I was leaning into the film, "What's that?", "Why is he doing that?", "What's at the end of the hallway?" and "Who is she?" About half an hour worth of story crammed into a 148 minute running time, the film could be excruciating or mesmerizing: I saw it on the right night, in the right frame of mind, and was gripped from beginning to end. My three words of advice: 1) Read nothing about the film, not even the DVD cover or the blurb at the Lincoln Film Centre website. 2) Don't see it if you're tired, impatient or distractable, or looking for action. 3) DO go see it; go contemplative, go visually hungry, go for mystery, but go. Even if you have to go to New York.

It was a decade or more later that I met Peter, my movie-list-making twin, and found out ANDREI RUBLEV is his Number One Film Of All Time. Around the same time as I learned that another film-loving buddy (Mel) also counted the iconographer biopic his Top Flick. So I watched it, and found it an endurance test. Watched it again, admired the visuals, still struggled to get hold of it. Then viewed it a third time, in the company of both Mel and Peter, and it started to click. Worked my way through the film scene by scene on my own over the space of several weeks, transcribing the dialogue, immersing in the film contemplating it, and it became one of my own personal favourites. Showed the film to people at Regent College, and marveled that it hadn't gripped me the first time out. All the questions of art-making in the face of suffering have been my questions, one time or another, and once I grew accustomed to the film, it has become a place I can go to contemplate those troubling things.

I've only attempted one other Tarko flick to date, the sci-fi-ish STALKER. Infuriating! As much as I was in the right frame of mind for THE SACRIFICE, I was in the wrong one for STALKER, and it was torment. I watched it with two other buddies, both new to the film as I was, and it didn't take long for the room to be filled with a silent vibe of antagonism. But I take my share of the responsibility for that, and new even as I viewed the thing that I'd need to give it another chance. Viewing the video clip above makes me wonder if maybe that time has come.

See you in The Zone. Or in New York City. Or both, at the Walter Reade.

PS Looks like I may need to watch THE MIRROR next. This next clip is justifiably titled "Best Sequence Shot Ever" on YouTube...

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