A Deleuzian Analysis of Tarkovsky’s Theory of Time-Pressure, Part 2

by David George Menard Volume 7, Issue 8 / August 2003 28 minutes (6770 words)

Mirror is a direct image of time created by a flux of thought-images (or thought-waves) propagating in the time-memory universe of Alexei’s mind. The film reflects the real life recollections and habitual memories of an existing person (Alexei as Tarkovsky’s persona) in relation to his family. It also Mirror_s the pure recollections associated with Alexei’s past, and especially, the involuntary recollections and virtual memories of his childhood dreams and fantasies. _Mirror is a personal and self-revealing film with autobiographical characteristics that correlate private and collective memories. Tarkovsky did this by reconstructing the country house where he grew up, a beautiful wooden cottage located adjacent to a field of buckwheat, as well as using old photographs, visual recollections, etc. Tarkovsky sets up the story in a dacha specifically to evoke/recreate the time-memory elements of his childhood. The re-constructed house of Tarkovsky’s childhood, set against a buckwheat field backdrop, recreates a personal history that is both real and imaginary; and where there is no distinct separation between interior and exterior spaces. To underscore this autobiographical palimpsest, Tarkovsky gets his father, the acclaimed Russian poet Arseni Tarkovsky, to recite his poetry at several points during the film. He cast both his real mother, Maria Tarkovskaya, for the part of Alexei’s mother as an old woman and his 2nd wife, Larissa Tarkovskaya, who plays the role of the doctor’s wife in the “earring scene.”

Mirror is a dream-memory unfolding within the narrator Alexei’s personal history. It functions overtonally (Eisenstein’s overtonal montage) as a single, unified memory-image within a history fragmented in time. Tarkovsky’s execution of the shots orchestrates a kinesthetic intensity of an overtonal time-pressure that propagates from shot-to-shot throughout the entire film. There is a unified, temporal feel to the film that makes the objects and events look real and virtual at the same time; in short, they become crystal-images. The overtonal qualities of Tarkovsky’s compositions go beyond those of Eisenstein’s juxtaposition of stationary shots because they achieve a greater dynamic range of temporal timbre. When Tarkovsky organizes the various cinematic elements of the film, he allows different aspects of time to interact with each other; for instance, he treats the mobility of the tracking camera with regards to the movement within the shot and the temporal chromaticity of the image. In effect, the camera interacts with the time-thrust that pierces through the frame-to-frame structure of the shot, evoking emotionally visceral responses from the viewer rather than conceptual attitudes about history and society. Tarkovsky presents a Möbius strip of distressingly nostalgic periods in the USSR (Russian & world histories), filtered through Alexei’s personal history. For example, the documentary archival footage (found film segments) of the Red Army crossing Lake Sivash (called the “Putrid Sea”), of the refugees exiled in the Soviet Union from a savage Civil War in Spain, and of the Chinese Maoists waving their little red books, are all actual facts with historically significant moments which are estranged and rendered oblique, by a combination of film overexposure and frame acceleration, into an all encompassing, non-distorted subjective time-image.

Tarkovsky’s intermixing of chronologically ordered stock footage with non-chronological personal histories further wrench the linearity of the temporal events. These found film segments move forward in time, from an atmospheric balloon journey undertaken by a Kurdish aviator in 1937 to the Soviet-Chinese conflict of the 1960s; while the personal histories gallop back-and-forth through the time-memory mesh, where time is no longer linear nor linked.

Tarkovsky creates these disruptions in time by breaching the feeling of its normal rhythms. The sense of time’s universality is violated by personal memories that penetrate into past histories, creating ripples through the fabric of time. A sense of virtuality parallels one of actuality, and what is most personal becomes time-like and most universal. In effect, Mirror breaches the movement-image structure by implanting a time-image mesh (a mesh => “gaps”) at the heart of an infraction in the steady flow of time. The temporal disruptions result from the mélange of personal histories and time-memory elements that maintain the time-pressure differential between shots, sometimes moving into flashbacks and sometimes into dreams.

It is the attention to this kind of editing detail that gives Mirror its feeling of being real, even though, the film is not realism because it is effectively a mental construct, made by re-constructing nature into a memory-scape. Tarkovsky gives us a taste of the different flavors of memory that time carries along in the film. They are a mix of pure perception, pure recollection and involuntary memory which he interweaves in the historical fabric of the private lives of its characters. In effect, the habitual forms of actual memory are intermixed with the much large set of virtual memories which comprises almost everything else that someone can think and/or dream about. In Mirror, the interpenetration of present realities (circa 1975) with past memories (1930s and mid-40s) creates a perplexity about the juxtaposition of non-chronological fragments, stressing the indivisibility of time and the infinite possibility of a perception that journeys beyond the borders of the screen. Tarkovsky achieves a sense of temporal unity through the confusion between ontological states, an inseparable feeling of being in a here-and-now simultaneously with a there-and-then, in short, a sense of not being so much in the present but more in the past. Cinematically, he accomplishes this feat of “_mystical realism_” by sometimes using variable slow motion shots, with slowly creeping lateral tracks or pans, which achieve the effects of molding time by capturing the subtle details of certain sound and image events that exist in nature. These are the pure optical and sonic situations that trigger the avalanche of virtual memories, _time-image_s, including sound-images, which ripple through this inseparable weave of time. They mold the temporal momentum or mass that flows in all of Tarkovsky’s films.

Tarkovsky’s time-rhythm montage creates dreamlike imagery that resists the spectator’s need for logic and credibility. An oneiric liquidity flows through not only Mirror, but most if not all of his films. These films achieve a kinesthetic feeling of time through the sensory-motor link that they continuously disrupt. Dialogue and audiovisuals are combined to convey daydreams and time-memories about the past, present and future. Tarkovsky unveils time directly to his audience by capturing the time-rhythms within the consecutive frames of the shot and matching them with the time-images in a series of shots. As the analysis will demonstrate, Tarkovsky does so in basically two ways, one by the continuous movement of the camera through space and the other by not controlling the viewer’s attention by cutting from one image to the next; all of which emphasizes the temporal nature of reality.

There is no better way to show Tarkovsky’s style of editing (time sculpting) than to examine the details of the optical and sound situations which he develops in Mirror, so I would now like to illustrate some of these strategies of time-pressure at work with the following close textual analysis. To supplement my analysis of Tarkovsky’s theory of time-pressure in Mirror, a partial scene/shot breakdown with detailed audiovisual description has been included as an appendix at the end of this work. I will look closely at the first shots of the pre-credit scene and the first 22 shots of the opening sequences of the film.

The pre-credit opening scene of Mirror is unique because it precedes the credits and involves two shots, one relatively short (20”) as compared a very long one (3’38”). Moreover, it is filmed in a documentary style and viewed on a television screen by an adolescent boy. The sense of authenticity is carried throughout the film with precise insertions of found historical film segments. This editing strategy is part of the overall narrative because it sets an emotional tone rather intellectual one. The stuttering of the teenager hints at the fragmentation of the spoken language and to the fractured representation of the self as written subject. There is hope in this film because in the prologue the stuttering is hypnotically suppressed when the teenager says: “I can speak.” This event announces the emotional emancipation of the filmmaker through his characters. The longing for freedom is at the heart of Mirror as is the fear of loosing it, because hypnosis can never be a cure to stuttering (am emotional problem reflected through language).

Documentary realism, boom shadow and all.

Mirror reflects an apprehension of childhood and its memory-image_s which coexist with the narrator’s (Alexei => Tarkovsky) present state of mind and real situation. The _time-thrusts reflect the forces of memory that reside in the mind-brain where they can continually renew themselves in the present moment, allowing the perception of time to become like a taut string or sheet, sustaining a tension between present and past that creates a broken representation of the individual, as represented by the stuttering subject in the pre-credit sequence of the film (a unusual montage strategy).

The opening of Mirror is also unique because it straight-cuts to a long take (45”) of the buckwheat field in the background (one of Tarkovsky’s childhood memories) and a young woman (Alexei’s mother) in long shot, sitting side saddle on a wooden fence rail, smoking a cigarette and facing the field while apparently looking at some thing moving in the far distance. It is the combination of the long take and the unusual mobility of the camera that pulls out the time-pressure from this shot. Specifically, the camera tracks forward slowly toward the back of the woman, favoring neither her nor the expansive field in the background, hesitating on her, but then moving past her to the man in the extreme background. By not cutting into the continuity of time, it is able to further register the direct feeling of time as it moves forward, passing her on its way into a view of the field and the mysterious point of interest, the stranger (passer-by).

This first post-credit scene (shots: 1 – 11) in Mirror is important because it is the all pervasive crystal-image that carries the force of the time-memory through the entire film. It is where the flow of time is most directly perceived. It is representative of the time-thrust that propagates through the film, enabling the linkage of past (film’s beginning) and present (film’s ending) to be achieved through a process of memory renewal in the present (Alexei’s childhood memories). The strong physical nature of the mighty gust of wind that waves through the field as the man stands in it, feeling its thrust against his whole body, is the epitome of the crystal-image in this film; and by not cutting into these shots (shots: 7, 8 and 9; especially shot 7) and letting flow freely as time-images, Tarkovsky achieves artistic emancipation, demonstrating his style of editing as the process of sculpting in time.

The use of nature’s time flow, especially the ‘wind’ in this opening scene, is of prime importance in Mirror. Tarkovsky sets up the story in a dacha specifically to evoke/recreate the time-memory elements of his childhood. He did so by using old photographs, visual recollections, etc., to reconstruct the country house where he grew up, a beautiful wooden cottage located adjacent to a field of buckwheat. It is the ‘tonal intensity’ (Eisenstein’s tonal montage) of this time-image, the sloppiness of the sound-image of the wind blowing through the buckwheat field, that creates the pure optical and sound situations through which the time-pressure propagates. This “dacha-buckwheat-wind” time-image is a prime example of a modern theory of cinema. Tarkovsky’s neo-formal theory of sculpting in time integrates earlier elements from Eisenstein formal theory and then goes on to re-theorizing about the essential nature of cinema. It redefines the cinematic unit in terms of time, shifting emphasis from the shot-montage to the time-rhythm.

The third scene (shots: 12 – 15) is also important because it enters into the childhood home. The “dacha” is the predominant chronotope of Mirror. It is the intrinsic connection that links the temporal and spatial relationships presented in the film whose polyphonic nature is expressed in the last sequence where the blending of space and time occurs as the past merges with the present, expressing the indivisible unity of time.

The fourth scene (shots: 16 – 18) is crucial to the narrative push because it brings to mind the chronotopes of the dream-memories that seems to take place inside the dacha but differ from the color memory-images that appear in the previous scene. Here, they occur in monochrome and seem to be slowed down. The shadowy images (both optical and sound) of the bedroom where the little boy (young Alexei) sleeps are flattened without much depth, but as opposed to the room of the dacha in the last scene, it is richly decorated and cluttered; and the sounds are displaced to the interior planes of consciousness, creating a strange feeling of dislocation that occurs in dreams. There is another strange dream-chronotope later in the film, that is, the woman’s levitation which takes place in another non-identifiable space, similar to the space of young Alexei’s bedroom.

These scenes demonstrate how Tarkovsky succeeds in suppressing the dramatic meaning in the optical and sound situations and allows a temporal meaning to float from beneath the narrative and come from beyond the image. The filmic features that he presents show evidence of bizarre mind states produced by quasi-dreaming and pseudo-remembering. An analogue of reality is presented where peripheral vision is blurred and light comes alive with pulsating changes in chromatic tonality. It is a virtual reality where space and time are discontinuous and matter (fire, wind, water) moves with a graceful force (time-thrust).

The fifth scene (shots: 19-20) seems to carry with it the dislocation and strangeness of both space and time that appeared in the previous scene. Here, the plaster on the ceiling of a not so easily identifiable room begins to disintegrate, falling in slow motion onto a spatial position previously occupied by the young woman with wet hair. The feeling is kinesthetic because the oneiric force of the time-thrust seems to transcend space and time, allowing the audience to feel the physicality of this virtual event. Moreover, this unique cinematic presentation appears to suppress (as in the case of the stuttering teenager) any psychoanalytical interpretation in favor of the actual experience of this oneiric mood. Mirror is a mood film at heart.

The sixth scene and the last one of real interest in the scene/shot breakdown (shots: 21 – 22) breaks the standard belief in the idea of editing, that is, the linkage of identifiable shots into a scene (Hitchcock and others have used such a device before Mirror). There is an apparent hidden cut in shot 21 that results from a camera pan across the image of the young woman who is looking at herself in the Mirror, to a blackened screen, and then the pan continues to another space and a different time (the present) where an older woman (Alexei’s mother) is seen simultaneously as an actual (physical) and virtual (memory) image existing as the reflection off the surface of a Mirror (crystal-image). The significance of the Mirror motif occurs here as it did earlier when the young woman looks into a clouded Mirror and sees herself as an older woman (played by Tarkovsky’s real mother, Maria Tarkovskaya). Tarkovsky’s greatest achievement in film is to make this homage to his “mom” as a dream-memory of a time-image that is reflected in a Mirror. This is the deepest emotional expression and form of love that a son can do for his mother, and such is the work of art known as Zerkalo (Mirror).


A partial scene/shot breakdown of Mirror: with detailed audiovisual description and shot length in minutes (‘) & seconds (‘’):


1. The film begins in color with a straight cut into a shot of a young boy positioned in front of the screen of a television set, as we hear: “What is your name? My name is Yuri Zhary.” (20”)

2. A straight cut to a long shot of a woman psychologist who is using hypnosis on a eenage boy to cure him of a severe stuttering problem. (3’38”)

3. A straight cut to a black screen with white lettering giving the film’s title – ‘The Looking Glass’ (5”). A straight cut to the other film credits


A straight cut back to the film’s title – ‘The Looking Glass’ (6”)


1. A straight cut of a woman in long shot, sitting side saddle on an old wooden fence, smoking a cigarette and facing opposite camera toward a huge buckwheat field in the background. She is wearing a white dress with a dark sweater. Her hair is blond like yellow straw. The color texture of the landscape is bluish green. The camera slowly tracks forward toward her to a point where it almost stops, framing the woman in a medium shot filling one third of the frame, in conjunction with the sound of a train whistle and the start of the voice-over (the narrator is Alexei). The camera’s determined forward movement passes to the right of the woman, leaving her image to disappear off-screen left, and moves to the edge of the field on an extreme long shot of the very small image of a man, standing in the middle of the field and within the near-center of the screen. (45”)

2. A straight cut to the woman in right profile and close-up (shoulder shot), still smoking passively. She turns her head toward the camera and directly stares into the lens for about two seconds. The color of her face glows with a golden yellow light. The camera pans slowly to the right, rack focuses to some bushes where green leaves and branches rustle in the wind. (18”)

3. A straight cut follows again to the woman in long shot, sitting on the fence but viewed from a slightly different perspective. The camera seems to pan-and-track in a slight circle path about her in a movement to the right. (16”)

4. A straight cut back to the man in long shot is made as he makes his way to the edge of the field. The camera leaves him and begins to pan left with a slight tilt down toward the woman on the fence. It continues its movement with a track that circles around her, to a position behind her back, where it turns to view the woman against the background of the buckwheat field as she blows smoke in the wind (similar camera POV as in shot 1). The landscape is bluish green but the characters’ faces are luminescent with red, orange and yellow colors. The man arrives in front of the woman whose back is facing the camera and after a slight pause, she turns around to look back as though she is going to stare into the lens again (as in shot 2), but her gaze penetrates beyond the camera. (1’33”)

5. A straight cut to two young boys in long shot, laying stretched out in a hammock and facing each other. This stringed up hanging bed looks like a huge spider web spread out between two trees. The children appear to be sleeping. (3”)

6. A straight cut is made back to the man and woman in long shot but from a different perspective. The man is at an arm’s length near her as she sits on the edge of the wooden rail of the fence which is seen in oblique relative to the bottom of the screen, while a row of bushes is seen in the middle ground with the buckwheat filled in the background. The man is also smoking a cigarette. He sits down next to her, his weight causing the wood to snap and they both fall to the ground. The camera tilts down and dollies toward the man, then follows him as he gets up. The camera now captures them in a two-shot, as they brush themselves off. The camera pans right with the man as he continues to talk, then back to the left as he walks back past the camera and exits frame left. The camera now frames the woman in a medium shot looking in a direction over the top of the camera toward the man’s off-screen voice. (2’00”)

7. A straight cut to the man in very long shot at the edge of the field (similar to shot 4). He begins to move away as we hear the sound of a dog barking in the distance. A silent sound segment follows for a few seconds; and then a huge wave of air (a strong feeling of the force of the wind exists here) moves across the field, from the right background and up to the foreground at the edge of the screen. We can see the pressure of the air against his body. The man stands still for a moment after the wind dies down. A golden streak of color stripes the middle portion of the bluish green field. (36”)

8. A straight cut to the woman in medium close-up looking obliquely left and slightly down. She is viewed in front of a mid-ground row of trees that hide a clearing, probably another portion of the field, that separates the forest background in the distance. A similar wave of air that comes and goes, but reduced in intensity, produces a gust of wind that strikes her body with a kinesthetic pressure, as she turns and moves screen right. (7”)

9. A straight cut back to the man in very long shot in the field is made as he walks away. Another strong gust of wind passes through the field, causing the man to stop momentarily and turn to look back at the woman. The man hesitates in an estranged, bizarre manner as he begins to lift his hand as though he is going to wave goodbye or do something else to call attention, but never completes his intention and turns back around and walks away. (18”)

10. A straight cut back to the woman in medium close-up (similar to shot 8) looking obliquely left. There is no wind this time as the voice-over begins to recite a poem from the poetry of Arseni Tarkovsky. The camera pans with the movement of the woman who is heading screen right and begins to track her from behind as she moves up to the dacha. She reaches a point near a tree when an object falls off outside the edge of one of the dacha’s windowsills, causing her to turn suddenly toward the camera as though she is again going to stare into the lens. (27”)

11. A straight cut to a little boy (maybe Alexei) standing in medium shot. A fire in an outside stove with its door opened is seen behind the boy, a pot appears to be on top boiling a liquid into the air. The boy looks slightly down at the camera and then turns his head to look screen left. He turns it back to a point where he is looking right and down as he still holds the same footing position; and then he begins to walk screen right. He passes by a youngster (boy or girl) with a shaven head who is laying flat on the ground and on his or her belly, sticking three quarter the way out of a dog house, where a little puppy is seen playing near the child’s head at the bottom edge of the screen. An apparently different woman dressed in a long dark skirt and dark sweater moves into frame from screen left, grabs a jacket on top of the dog house, and picks up the child as they move off screen right. (15”)


12. A straight cut to a pair of hands in medium close-up, holding a spoon and stirring up something in a bowl is seen as some spilled milk puddles to the left side of the screen on top of the table where a cat is lapping the white liquid. After a moment, we see that there are two little children both with heads shaven, one who is spooning a substance (probably milk) out of the bowl, the other who is fooling around by pouring either a white powder (probably flour) on top of the cat’s head. The voice-over continues to recite Arseni Tarkovky’s poem. The camera moves to the right and away from the kids to a point halfway across the room where a woman is standing up alone in the corner. There is a slight pause in her position before she begins to move screen right away from the corner screen and disappears out of frame right. The camera lingers for a few seconds on the corner she previously occupied. The camera picks her image again as she heads to a window, near another corner on the opposite side of the room, where she sits down to stare out of its opening. The camera seems to pause for a moment on the woman whose hair is blonde, as it continues a tracking movement past the woman, swinging rightward in the process, to capture a full frame view of the outside backyard of the dacha where it is raining. We cannot hear the rain but only see it as the poem is being recited. The camera pauses for a moment on a table that is located in the left foreground of the screen, supporting unknown objects on its wet surface. A grassy open lawn area lies in the middle ground where a few scattered trees grow, partially veiling a greater forested spread in the background. The camera tilts upward revealing a semi-circular string of bushes that complete the view of the mid-ground, as we see further behind a clearing which again separates a forest background. The rain continues to fall. (1’28”)

13. A straight cut to the woman with blonde hair in medium close-up follows. She is looking obliquely right near the front of the camera. Initially, the poem continues to be spoken until there is a sound of rattling, at which time the poetry stops. The camera stares at the woman who stays immobile for a time; and then she looks right when the sound of rattling is heard. The faint cries of kittens are heard intermixed with the rattling sound. She decides to move screen right to a desk near a window where she picks up a book that she opens momentarily. As the camera pauses on the woman who remains in the shadows near the desk, she suddenly hears a ruckus; and then turns toward the camera as we hear the barking of a dog. She walks screen left past the two young children, a boy and a girl, who were at the table at the center of the room, passing another window in the background of the dacha that strongly lights up the inside of the room. As the camera tracks-and-pans her going toward the door entrance, we see in the right top corner of the screen a clock, located above a bright lit area of the wall that reveals the log-cabin structure of the dacha. She comes back to speak to the children who are seated at a table: “It’s a fire, but don’t shout.” As the children get up there is a cut on action to a reverse angle of the table. (44”).

14. The children leave the table and run toward the camera located between them and the door. The camera pans quickly left as they move out-and-away from this picnic style bench (table). As they pass behind the camera, it pulls back slightly and pans slowly right to stare at the table. As it pauses on the vacated room, we see an empty bottle (milk bottle) roll-off its surface and hit the floor, rolling away and making a hollow crystal sound. Now, the camera pans quickly leftward to reveal a bright, blurred image with a myriad of red, orange, and yellow hues and the image of a doorway with penetrating blue color streaming in from its edges. It is the door entrance of the dacha reflected in an old Mirror. The out-of-focused image of a little boy in dark shorts is seen standing facing out near its right edge. There is something brilliantly orange and yellow in the upper left corner region of the door (sun or fire). Suddenly, there is a re-focusing which seems to efface the warn-out dark spots of the Mirror, revealing another little child with lighter shorts who is standing to the left of the taller child (previously described).

The camera pauses on them for a moment, causing us to wonder if it is still a virtual Mirror image or a real focused shot of the backs of the children looking out of the doorway. It begins to move again as a ceiling oil lamp appears in our view. The camera is panning left as we hear someone shouting. Strangely, as it pans another child, a slightly older boy with dark hair and wearing a fur collar overcoat, it moves out of the shadows and screen left. The camera picks up behind him, whose face glows with a golden orange light, as they move toward the open door of the dacha that presents us with a blurred out background amidst a gentle falling rain. The camera moves through the right side of the door and past this boy, revealing in a track-and-pan motion a woman dressed with a dark heavy sweater and wearing a deep dark red dress, standing in a full shot in the front yard and looking at a burning barn. The camera continues to move left and track right as it passes to the right of a ladder positioned screen left, as we hear the sound of dripping water and see a gentle rain. The woman is now framed in the center foreground while a man stands left frame in the middle ground, as a girl dressed with a white fur collar overcoat moves into frame from the bottom edge of the screen. There is a huge blinding blaze on the left side of the screen. (59”)

15. A straight cut to the woman in medium shot and right profile, staring at the brilliant fire. Thick woods are seen in the background. She moves screen right to a well and sits on its edge, as she holds her arms crossed around her upper body as though she is hugging herself. We hear the sounds of the well bucket that is tied to a rope from an unseen support, swinging and squeaking, as it moves through the air in its pendulum motion. The man passes the woman on her right as he heads toward the fire amidst the cry-like sounds of the squeaking bucket. The camera follows the man’s movement and reveals that the fire is a building blazing out of control. It tilts up slowly as the man picks up his pace toward the burning inferno. We hear the soft roar of the combustion of the crackling wood and see the smoke clouds rising into the air which seems to blend with bluish green of the background forest. Once the man gets very close to the blaze, its heat intensity (time-pressure) is so great that he attempts to circumvent it by moving screen left. (53”)


16. A straight cut to shadows that slowly unveil a little boy (Alexia) lying in a bed. The image has switched to black and white. He is sleeping. We hear the fluttering hum of a flute in a form of background music, as the sound of the cry from a night creature (bird or animal) punctures the sonic space. The boy sits up and looks screen right. (21”)

17. A straight cut to the exterior of the dacha at night looking into a wooded brush area. The camera pauses for a few seconds as it slightly pulls back and tracks left to a point when a strange wind gusts through the brush. In a bizarre fashion, the weeds bend back only in a narrow path across the middle ground of the screen without disturbing the other outer surrounding foliage. Another cry of the night animal (maybe a night owl or raven) is heard in the midst of rustling noise from the wind and the eerie, celestial sound of synthesized flute (non-diegetic sound) that gives the night space an air of mystery. (17”)

18. A straight cut back to the boy sleeping in his bed (similar to shot 15). He softly cries out in his sleep: “Papa.” As he does so, there follows a ‘double cry’ from the unknown night creature that sonically sounds like the phonics of ‘Papa’. The little boy sits up as we see him from a different perspective. A bright area lies behind, a shade partially covering a lit window. He gets out of bed and moves screen right to the entrance of another room (maybe the living room) as we hear the sound of the night creature again and see a mysterious flying object moving rapidly from left-to-right across the screen (possibly a shirt, maybe the night bird?). (39”)


19. A straight cut to a left profile medium close-up of the narrator’s father, a young, shirtless man in his early thirties with dark hair, leaning forward to the left, seemingly helping a young woman, the narrator’s mother Maria, with the washing of her hair. There is a fire burning in the background. Everything is happening is a suspended slow motion. Maria appears to have dark hair but it is wet so we don’t know its true color. She is leaning forward, facing straight down into the tub of water, then she begins to pull up letting her wet hair hang down over the expanse of water. She continues to rise with her arms in a partial crucifixion position as the camera pulls back away from her. We hear again the eerie, celestial humming that seems to have grown into stormy orchestration of a ship’s bell ringing, muffled with the sounds of train wheels passing over railroad tracks – like the synthesized sounds of an oncoming storm. (53”)

20. A straight cut to an empty room (same as shot 19) and from a very slightly different perspective. The color is more sepia than before (white grayish color) as the whole room is caught in a mysterious rain storm. The ceiling is falling from the dacha’s sky, crashing in pieces onto the floor. Water is pouring out of the hole that we can’t see. A fire is seen in a Mirror screen left. The mysterious sounds of a ship’s bell and a flute or blowing air pass the open tip of a bottle are intermixed with the crashing of ceiling chunks that look like pieces of bright, white ice. (13”)


21. A straight cut to Maria (same as in shot 19) in medium shot, holding her hands on top of her wet hair as she is moving screen left. The eerie, celestial, symphonic musical hum bridges the gap between these two shots. It is raining here (as in shot 20 but not shot 19). She looks down and turns, almost looking directly into the camera, then she stops as the camera continues to move leftward, panning her face in a medium close-up. The camera continues its movement past her, coming to a Mirror which reflects the woman’s image in virtual left profile (actual right profile). It continues its cinematographic leftward pursuit until the screen is completely black. It pauses for a moment then begins moving screen left, revealing a sparkling light texture of a wall whose surface is sheeted with dripping water. THERE IS A POSSIBLE HIDDEN CUT HERE. The camera arrives at the entrance of a lit doorway, where, against the logics of time and space, the same woman, Maria, is seen; behind her and on the other side of the door we see a bricked surface background. The woman’s wet hair is covered by a shawl or bathrobe over her shoulders. The camera pans left as it brings her image into the middle of the screen in medium close-up. The sound of dripping water hitting a taut, stretched out linen sheet is heard, as is the returning sound of the night creature. The camera moves in on her, still in close-up, panning rightward as she begins to move quickly screen right, causing us to think that the camera has redirected its movement in a leftward pan. (49”)

22. A straight cut to an old woman in medium shot (Alexei’s mother) seen as an arch shaped reflected image (produced from a Mirror) with clouds, a tree to the left and fire near the bottom of the Mirror_-picture (it looks like a Renaissance painting). She is nearly bareheaded with very little hair and has a shawl over her shoulders that she holds with her right hand crossed over her chest and touching her heart region. The camera seems to be moving screen left as the old woman appears to be advancing near it and the strange arched shape _Mirror image vanishes into transparency. Only the sounds of dripping water are heard. The camera frames her in medium close-up as it moves slightly forward closer to her image, then a person (the old woman’s) right hand comes up from the bottom of the screen and rubs the surface of the image of the old woman (her image reflected in a Mirror) in a counterclockwise movement. The sound of rubbing wet glass is heard. (22”) The shot cuts. THE SHOT/SCENE BREAKDOWN ENDS HERE.

Read Part 1 Here.


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A Deleuzian Analysis of Tarkovsky’s Theory of Time-Pressure, Part 2

David George Menard is a Polymath Physicist and Filmmaker, a Physics MSc graduate from the University of Tennessee Space Institute, Tullahoma, TN. David went to work for Martin Marietta Missiles Systems, the Electro-Optics Division, in Orlando Florida. Unfortunately, circa 1990, the Soviet Union collapsed and many scientists lost their jobs. So he began a new career in filmmaking, attending the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema in Montreal, graduating with a MFA in film production in 2010. After which, he moved to Los Angeles and began writing screenplays, continuing to do so while promoting “Termite Cat Productions, Ltd.”

Volume 7, Issue 8 / August 2003 Essays   andrei tarkovsky   film theory   gilles deleuze   henri bergson   montage   people_deleuze   temporality