In the entire history of cinema there has never been a director, who has made such a dramatic stand for the human spirit as did Andrei Tarkovsky. Today, when cinema seems to have drowned in a sea of glamorized triviality, when human relationships on screen have been reduced to sexual intrigue or sloppy sentimentality, and baseness rules the day - this man appears as a lone warrior standing in the midst of this cinematic massacre, holding up the banner for human spirituality.
What puts this director in a class all his own and catapults his films onto a height inaccessible to other filmmakers? It is, first and foremost, his uncompromising stance that man is a SPIRITUAL being. This may appear to be self-evident to some, and yet it is just on this very point that 99% of cinema fails. Man's spirituality is quickly and conveniently pushed aside in favor of other more "exciting" topics: man's sexuality, man's psychology, sociology and so on. In today's cinema, if spirituality is dealt with at all, it is never treated as the foundation of our existence, but is there as an appendage, something the characters concern themselves with in their spare time.
In other words, while in other films spirituality may be PART of the plot, in Tarkovsky's films it IS the plot; it permeates the very fabric of his films. It can be said that his films vibrate with his own spirituality. As he himself states, in all of his films the main characters undergo a SPIRITUAL crisis.
This is particularly evident in his film Stalker, where ALL of the characters are involved in an intense spiritual struggle. And while the nature of this struggle is uniquely personal for each of them, the basic objective is the same: to keep the flame of the human spirit within them alive. The character of the Stalker, in particular, is the most fascinating example of the human being struggling to find the right path by using his intuition (that is, by listening to his "inner voice"). And since most people are used to following only their worldly desires in carving out their path in life (paying little or no attention to this "inner voice"), Stalker's behavior produces a reaction of bewilderment - not only in his companions in the film, but also in the majority of the viewers
Instead of rushing through the "Zone" (representing life), grabbing and tasting and plundering everything in his path, he proceeds with caution, as though listening WITHIN himself, watching for signs to indicate the next move to him, careful not to disturb anything around him. What is it that he is listening to, waiting for, hoping to comprehend?
It is the language of the "Zone", which is the language of life itself - the language, in which the Creator speaks to us through life. This is, perhaps, the most unique quality of Tarkovsky's cinema (which also accounts for his unique cinematic style of incredibly long takes and slowly-pulsating rhythm): he is observing the very language of life, as though hoping in this way to "hear" the language of God [...]
". . . it's only possible to communicate with the audience if one ignores that eighty percent of people who for some reason have got it into their heads that we are supposed to entertain them."
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