“Erland going up and down the ladder like a firefighter, grumbling that he had never in his life had to work out as much as during the shooting of Tarkovsky’s film and complaining that he would soon have the biceps of King Kong. Kerstin Eriksdotter suggested that we rename the film The Ladder. ‘Why not? The Ladder sound rather good,’ Andrei agreed, adding: ‘Gogol asked for a ladder before he died.’”
“For a long time, Sven Nykvist was puzzled by Andrei’s constant peering through the lens. It even bothered him, until Andrei explained to him that only after looking through the viewfinder of the camera was he able to visualise the mise-en-scène .”
“Alexander dreams he is picking small coins out of sticky mud. ‘When you see money in a dream, it portends tears,’ Andrei would say. Apparently, it was a recurring dream of his.”
“Russian filmmakers have a custom: on the first day’s shoot they smash a bottle of champagne (like when a ship is launched). Andrei reassured the worried Swedes that his intent was not to consume it, but to break it for the success of the film. On the first attempt, the bottle would not shatter. ‘It’s a bad omen,’ Andrei whispered to me, requesting me not to translate it into Swedish… Yet, the significance of the moment was not lost on anyone present.”
“An artist never works under ideal conditions. If they existed, his work wouldn’t exist, for the artist doesn’t live in a vacuum. Some sort of pressure must exist. The artist exists because the world is not perfect. Art would be useless if the world were perfect, as man wouldn’t look for harmony but would simply live in it. Art is born out of an ill-designed world.”
—Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986)
The Hunters in the Snow (Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1565; oil on panel)
The Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1975)
What is a take? Between the words “Action” and “Stop,” what is it? It’s the fixing of reality, the fixing of time. It’s a way of preserving time so that we can later roll and unroll it as we please. No other art form can fix time as cinema does. And so, what is a film? It’s a mosaic made of time.
The allotted function of art is not, as is often assumed, to put across ideas, to propagate thoughts, to serve as example. The aim of art is to prepare a person for death, to plough and harrow his soul, rendering it capable of turning to good.