“Why do people go to the cinema? What takes them into a darkened room where, for two hours, they watch the play of shadows on a sheet? The search for entertainment? The need for a kind of drug? All over the world there are, indeed, entertainment firms and organizations which exploit cinema and television and spectacles of many other kinds. Our starting point, however, should not be there, but in the essential principles of cinema, which have to do with the human need to master and know the world. I think that what a person normally goes to the cinema for is time: for time lost or spent or not yet had. He goes there for living experience; for cinema, like no other art, widens, enhances and concentrates a person’s experience—and not only enhances it but makes it longer, significantly longer. That is the power of cinema: ‘stars’, story-lines and entertainment have nothing to do with it.”
“I see it as my duty to stimulate reflection on what is essentially human and eternal in each individual soul, and which all too often a person will pass by, even though his fate lies in his hands. He is too busy chasing after phantoms and bowing down to idols. In the end everything can be reduced to the one simple element which is all a person can count upon in his existence: the capacity to love. That element can grow within the soul to become the supreme factor which determines the meaning of a person’s life. My function is to make whoever sees my films aware of his need to love and to give his love, and aware that beauty is summoning him.”
Tarkovsky’s cinema is steeped in Eastern Orthodox mysticism.
Orthodox Easter, celebrated by most branches of the Eastern Orthodox Church (including the Russian Orthodox Church) and some Oriental Orthodox churches, is today this year. Orthodoxy in Estonia is practiced by 13% of the population, making it the second most identified religion after Lutheran Christianity.
The Easter service itself begins the night before Easter Sunday. I actually took part of it last night. People gather at church at around 23:00 to hear the Easter mass. Bells begin to ring out across the city and the priest will then lead the congregation around the church in what is called ‘the cross procession’.
I found a copy of Andrei Rublyov’s Holy Trinity hanging on the wall. The Church has many different depictions of the Holy Trinity. But the icon which defines the very essence of Trinity Day is invariably the one which shows the Trinity in the form of three angels. The prototype for this icon was the mysterious appearance of the Holy Trinity in the form of three travelers to Abraham and Sarah under the oak of Mamre. The Church specifically chose this particular icon because it most fully expresses the dogma of the Holy Trinity: the three angels are depicted in equal dignity, symbolizing the triunity and equality of all three Persons.
Andrei Rublev, Art, Orthodox Icons, Russian Art, Russian Orthodox Church, Trinity, Christ the Redeemer.
It is a mistake to talk about the artist “looking for” his subject. In fact, the subject grows within him like a fruit and begins to demand expression. It is like childbirth. The poet has nothing to be proud of: he is not master of the situation, but a servant. Creative work is his only possible form of existence, and his every work is like a deed he has no power to annul. For him to be aware that the sequence of such deeds is due and ripe, that it lies in the very nature of things, he has to have faith in the idea; for only faith interlocks the system of images (for which read: system of life.)
What is Bresson’s genre? He doesn’t have one. Bresson is Bresson. He is a genre in himself. Antonioni, Fellini, Bergman, Kurosawa, Dovzhenko, Vigo, Mizoguchi, Buñuel—each is identified with himself. The very concept of genre is as cold as the tomb. And is Chaplin—comedy? No: he is Chaplin, pure and simple; a unique phenomenon, never to be repeated. He is unadulterated hyperbole; but above all he stuns us at every moment of his screen existence with the truth of his hero’s behavior. In the most absurd situation Chaplin is completely natural; and that is why he is funny. His hero seems not to notice the hyperbolized world around him, nor its weird logic. Chaplin is such a classic, so complete in himself, that he might have died three hundred years ago.
What could be more ridiculous or less probable than someone starting inadvertently to eat, along with his spaghetti, paper streamers hanging down from the ceiling? Yet with Chaplin the action is live, naturalistic. We know the whole thing is made up and exaggerated, but in his performance the hyperbole is utterly naturalistic and probable, and therefore convincing—and superbly funny. He doesn’t play. He lives those idiotic situations, is an organic part of them.
— Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time