“Andrei Tarkovsky’s Poetic Cinema” by Matt Turner

As an artist limited by his circumstance in the warring, emaciated USSR throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, Andrei Tarkovsky did well to establish himself as one of cinema’s greatest masters. In some sense, his works represent grand acts of imagination against the pressures of reality. Faced by an increasingly philistine world enveloped in the struggles of aggressive international politics and the constant threat of nuclear war, he felt it his duty as an artist to help reintroduce the poetic essence as a vital part of humanity. He imbued his cinema with an element of poetry that stuns the viewer both visually and emotionally, and with his vision as an artist he invented—as legendary Swedish film maker Ingmar Bergman said—a new language. It is no surprise that Tarkovsky’s father was a much-loved Russian poet with nine collections of poetry. As evidenced in his film Stalker, where one of his father’s poems is recited near the threshold of The Room (a place where one’s innermost desire is alleged to be granted upon entering), Tarkovsky used his father’s poetry as a source of inspiration for his cinema. You could say that he found poetry to be one of the highest forms of art, and wanted to instill the essence of it in his films. But what is the essence of poetry? Some might say it’s intangible, or that it simply doesn’t exist. Others might say that the essence of poetry is its unique presentation of ideas. Tarkovsky would likely say, however, that it is the art form’s ability to inspire a state of rational and irrational bliss through language. Continue reading

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A D & Jeremy Talk about Movies: The Tree of Life

[By now it was late. The three stars were dimpling the sky. The baby raccoon was crying for its milk (I’d taken in an orphan the week before). But Jeremy and I weren’t finished yet discussing the movies we’d just watched.]

A D: You had a rather serious reaction to this one, Jeremy. Were you crying afterward?

Jeremy: Yes. Crying because I realized how much of my life I had wasted watching movies. What George Lucas did for his own franchise with the prequels, Malick did for all of cinema with The Tree of Life.

Jiminy.

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Brevity, Part 3: Long Takes Continued (well, they’re long)

While writing my previous post, I grew aware that I wasn’t mentioning any women filmmakers. So I’d like to add something addressing that (because of course one can find numerous examples). And along the way, I’ll also try to say more in general about the power—and limitations—of the long take.

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Brevity, Part 2: Long Takes

Some of us have been discussing long takes in movies, and John mentioned that he’d like seeing a list of films that consist primarily of the beautiful things. So here is a start at such a list. (And here is another one, which like this list embeds many YouTube clips, such as the magnificent opening shot Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil (1958), the homage Robert Altman pays it in The Player (1992), and many others—including some overlap.)

But first: What’s the value in the long take?

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