Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tarkovsky Tuesday

The Pacific Cinematheque (pronounced cinemateck) in Vancouver has launched its screenings of most of Tarkovsky's films. I saw Stalker there a while back, which was my first time seeing it on a theater screen, and it was like seeing it for the first time.

Here is the Cinemateck's synopsis/official blurb for its Tarkovsky screenings:

"The seven features “sculpted in time” by Russian master and mystic Andrei Tarkovsky in a career cut short by lung cancer in 1986 (Tarkovsky was 54) are among the most influential, acclaimed, audacious, and awe-inspiring film works to emerge from postwar Europe. Meditative, metaphysical, uncommonly lyrical, remarkably textured, and incomparably visual, Tarkovsky’s is a cinema of moral and spiritual questing, of powerful apocalyptic poetry, of tour-de-force long takes and tracking shots, of expressive monochrome and muted colour, of unforgettable images and dreamlike landscapes. Steeped in Eastern Orthodox mysticism, abounding in elemental symbolism, sometimes venturing forth into hauntingly enigmatic science fiction, Tarkovsky’s films conjure up a hermetic, hallucinatory world that often speaks, forcefully, resonantly, mysteriously, more directly to the subconscious than to the rational mind. The result is cinema of the rarest order: transcendent, transfixing and transformative, rigorous and redemptive, utterly singular..."

I almost want to backhand the person who wrote that gobbling piece of garbage - three times over. "Master and mystic", "powerful apocalyptic poetry", "tour-de-force long takes", "Eastern Orthodox mysticism" (gotta love that one), "hermetic, hallucinatory world"...the whole thing; the higher it attempts praise, the more wrong and perverse it goes.

It makes me think of this other sort of slobbering swine-talk from Robert Johnson (a.k.a., "a spiritual elder") that I recently read, as quoted by Heather King in her comment box:

"The Catholic Mass is a masterpiece of balancing our cultural life. If one has the courage to see, the Mass is full of the darkest things: there is incest, betrayal, rejection, torture, death—and worse. All this leads to revelation but not until the dark side has been portrayed as vividly as possible. If one went to Mass in high consciousness one would tremble at the awfulness of it—and be redeemed by its balancing effect…One ought to pale with terror at the Mass."

One ought to pale with terror at the thought of unfathomably insulting Christ through one's own slobbering swine-talk. You know, like those who slobber all over themselves about the "eroticism" of the poetry of St. John of the Cross.

But anyways, the Pacific quote reminded me most of all of something Tarkovsky himself said about the very same thing:

"I have to admit that even when professional critics praised my work I was often left unsatisfied by their ideas and comments--at least, I quite often had the feeling that these critics were either indifferent to my work or else not competent to criticise: so often they would use well-worn phrases taken from current cinema journalese instead of talking about the film's direct, intimate effect on the audience."

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