4 min read

Tarkovsky.. The last Romantic

Andrei Tarkovsky
Anubhav Chakraborty

June 15, 2021 4 min read

The world of Andrei Tarkovsky is suspended between fantasy and disbelief where liberation can be found in the innermost depths of a prison, where beauty can be spotted by the voyeuristic gaze of a stalker. Andrei Tarkovsky – the son of a poet, thought in metaphors, took the side of autonomous narratives, recreated varied notions of time within time and found refuge in solitude. In ‘Mirror’ a man rediscovers himself within fragments of fantasy and forgotten past in the middle of a telephonic conversation and the omnipotence of nature can be spotted in its subsequent dismantling of mortally structured definitions (the fusion of fire and water) in a couple of frames. The footage of the soldiers marching towards their death is voiced by Tarkovsky as the belligerent cry of mortals against the inevitability of death. A mirror to life, a mirror to dreams and a mirror to eternity from the humble imagination of an artist raising his voice of total creation.

In ‘Stalker’ Tarkovsky quite dexterously constructs a domain where tranquility has turned into man’s greatest nemesis. The zone is a land of deception where happiness is a facade beguiling mankind with chaos and tomfoolery. The zone is a wish man once wished, the room full of sand – a metaphor for peace which is ephemeral. According to Tarkovsky, the urge for peace in the modern world is a forbidden desire. Man according to Tarkovsky has turned himself into a better version of a monster who has pledged to bludgeon itself and everyone around him using his wit, his scepticism and his greed for material pleasures. The conscious are the ones who are trying to hold onto every bit of joy that is scarce, with pugnacious potency in dark reticence, like stalkers.

The transformation of man into a machine was echoed by the mad man in ‘Nostalghia’ where he laments the downfall of man before submitting himself to the flames of total annihilation. Tarkovsky’s presence can almost be noticed in every frame of the movie, his tears can be seen by the blind believers, living empty lives in and around a sense of nostalgia.

In his interpretation of Stanislaw Lem’s masterpiece “Solaris” , Tarkovsky paints the most haunting picture of love. Love that penetrates the sterile landscapes of space, an answer to Kubrick’s ‘Space Odyssey’. The man is eternally trapped in a land of memories (authentic facsimiles) where he finds the wife he lost, the love he so desperately desired since her demise. 

‘Andrei Rublev’ is Andrei Tarkovsky in all his hopes and despair, in all his triumphs and losses. An artist who is plagued by his own consciousness, his own imagination, his creations and his submissions. Andrei transcends the human concept of time like Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando”. His suffering is for all to see and suffer subsequently, with the ache of the isolated creator. In ‘Ivan’s Childhood’ Tarkovsky paints the journey of becoming an artist. 

A route fraught with terrible observations and bemusing conflicts. Ivan must be disappointed time and again by the world he imagined to be flawless. ‘The Sacrifice’ offers a cruder take on existence, almost through the gaze of a cynic. The number of violent outbreaks in the west rattled the notion of western enlightenment. Tarkovsky’s wings of liberation were on the verge of the final plummet, yet he dared to dream once again, through a final act of sacrifice, Tarkovsky would assign frames to his cry for redemption. 

In a documentary, Tarkovsky confessed that he allowed his script to do all the talking sans any external intervention. He would look at the frames like Wordsworth looked at daffodils, or Shelley experienced the west wind and Keats heard the nightingale. A poet in disguise, Tarkovsky was a true romantic, his world like Coleridge’s Xanadu was like an illusion as real as life itself, in all it’s glory and decimation.

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