The Russian master of cinema Andrei Tarkovsky is back in London 30 years after his death at the age of just 54. During his relatively short life, he made seven feature films that changed the history of cinema forever. He influenced generations to come, from the artistic mind of Alexander Sokurov in Russia to the mainstream genius of Steven Spielberg in Hollywood.
His films are showing as part of retrospective entitled Sculpting Time taking place in some of the best cinemas in London. Some screenings will be followed by talks and Q&As with Tarkovsky’s close friend and colleague Layla Alexander-Garrett and architect Takero Shimazaki, among others.
Seven films in 24 years
Tarkovsky’s first feature film Ivan’s Childhood is the tale of an orphan boy during WWII, made in 1962. His following movie Andrei Rublev (1966) is a Soviet biographical historical drama loosely based on the life of eponymous 15th-century Russian icon painter. The original film had 205 minutes and quickly became a landmark in the history of Russian cinema.
Six years later the Russian director made Solaris, a meditative sci-fi drama occurring mostly aboard a space station orbiting the fictional planet Solaris, and a powerful metaphor of the tensions of the Cold War. The year of 1975 saw the release of Tarkovsky’s most iconic and radical piece, the also loosely autobiographical Mirror (pictured at the top). This unconventionally structured, complex and multilayered movie featured poems from Tarkovsky’s father Arseny Tarkovsky and his own mother Maria Vishnyakova appears in the film.
His following movie Stalker (1979, pictured above) depicted an expedition led by a figure known as the ‘Stalker’ to take his two clients, a melancholic writer and a professor, to a mysterious site known simply as the ‘Zone’. The film was shot in a few days at two deserted hydro power plants in Estonia. It is widely believed that Tarkovsky was poisoned during this shootings, which caused his death to lung cancer just seven years later.
Tarkovsky made two films outside the Soviet Union before his untimely death. Nostalghia (1983) was made in Italy, depicting the story of Russian writer Andrei Gorchakov, who travels to the Mediterranean country in order to research the life of a 18th-century Russian composer. His last movie The Sacrifice (1986) was made in Sweden, a tale about a middle-aged intellectual who bargains with God in order to avoid an impending nuclear holocaust.
Our dirty favourite
Tarkovsky lives at the heart of DMovies. His innovative and subversive filmmaking serves as constant inspiration to our writers and is a central pillar for our concept of “dirt”.
Mirror is particularly influential. The film has dirty mirrors that slant, deviate, magnify and intoxicate the stunning photography and unusual narrative of the film. They allow the viewer to engage with the events and the images in the film, and to relate the film to their own experience. Tarkovsky’s Mirror is a profound meditative and thought-provoking experience unparalleled in the history of cinema. Read our article about the film and its influence on our concept here.
Or click here in order to find out more about the retrospective Sculpting Time, as well as to buy tickets. Also note that more screenings are yet to be confirmed.
We are giving away eight posters of the Sculpting Time retrospective to our UK readers. Just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org before the end of June – the winners will be randomly selected and announced then.
Watch a remarkable sequence from Ivan’s Childhood below. This is Tarkovsky’s first feature as well as the first one in the UK retrospective: