Volume 14, Issue 12 / December 2010

Andrei Tarkovsky

In this issue that concludes the 2010 calendar year, Offscreen puts a partial focus on my favorite film director, Andrei Tarkovsky. I first encountered his work in the early 1980s while taking a course on Science Fiction literature by Professor Robert M. Philmus. We were studying Stanislaw Lems’ novel Solaris and Philmus mentioned that an ‘interesting’ film adaption of the novel was playing at a local repertory theatre and recommended that we see it (for native Montreal readers who may be curious, the theatre was The Cinema V). I took his recommendation, and have been entranced by Tarkovsky since. The mini focus on Tarkovsky includes two essays, the first by myself, and the second by first time writer Prakash Kona. In the first essay I concentrate on a specific ‘curative’ function that nature holds in Tarkovsky’s films, which touches elements of style, form and meaning. My essay relies on close descriptive and formal analysis. The second essay by Kona employs a different critical approach, more literary and philosophical, to argue for Tarkovsky’s enduring legacy as one of cinema’s greatest ‘spiritual’ filmmakers. The next two essays, by Daniel Garrett, may be far removed from Tarkovsky proper but are ‘spiritually’ connected by their respective subject matter, Ingmar Bergman and Leo Tolstoy, two giants who Tarkovsky greatly admired. In the first piece Garrett reviews Irving Singer’s book on the great Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic Philosopher: Reflections on His Creativity. In the second essay Garrett reviews director Michael Hoffman’s 2009 film on the last years of Tolstoy, The Last Station. In his review Garrett gives an overview of Tolstoy’s exalted status in Russian (and world) literature, and the battle for his legacy between his wife and his colleague, a battle which echoes Tolstoi’s own professional shift (outlined in his critical work What is Art? ) between art for art’s sake and art as a platform for spirituality. In What is Art? Tolstoy controversially devalued all of his earlier works of art (War and Peace, Anna Karenina) in favor of his later Christian morality tales. The fifth essay (with no ties to Tarkovsky at all!) is Offscreen regular Betty Kaklamanidou’s yearly report on TIFF (no not the one in Toronto, but the Thessaloniki International Film Festival. (Donato Totaro, ed.)

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