A monument to Andrei Tarkovsky was opened on the 29th July 2017 in Suzdal, where his own monumental contribution to Russia cinema, Andrei Rublev, was shot in 1965 … well over half a century ago. Andrei Tarkovsky was in my view the most important artist of the 20 century in any medium. Yes, that is a sweeping statement! … but I have just watched his films in the cinema – Solaris 3 times and Stalker twice in the course of the last week, and feel this claim is justified. I shall do my best to contextualize my hyperbole … and if I fail to convince you … perhaps, you might at the very least, understand where I am coming from (my perspective or paradigm)!
In a deathbed conversation with Krzysztof Zanussi, he said to his friend and esteemed colleague, “If I happen to die, please whenever you talk about me, remind people I want to be remembered as a sinner, as somebody who committed many sins …. “ Andrei Tarkovsky was Christian and I believe he was expressing, in this request, his subscription to the doctrine of original sin, which although different in orientation and nuance, is in essence similar to the Islamic fitrah (original purity) or the Buddhist dhukka (universal suffering). In all his work Tarkovsky struggled to express this sacred, understanding of the human condition in historical and psychological terms.
In his hands, film, the quintessential 20th Century representational medium, becomes both a medicine and a sacrament – an interface for healing and a window on salvation. He set this ameliorative and soteriological vehicle into motion in what Ingmar Bergman, no less, has described as “a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream”. Tarkovsky is the exemplary post-traditionalist, utterly contemporary in his engagement with social history and psychology … timeless in his grasp of the sacred. He articulated this timelessness in his films, his 7 technically and aesthetically masterful ‘sculptures of time‘!