34. Andrei Tarkovsky
ANDREI RUBLEV, SOLARIS, STALKER
When a director like Ingar Bergman says this about you, “Tarkovsky for me is the greatest [director], the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream,” you must be doing something right. Although he died at age 54 with only 11 directorial credits to his name, Tarkovsky still manages to be one of the greatest Russian directors. The son of a poet, his films follow a poetic dismissal of plot, along with an ethereal reliance on spirituality and metaphysics, and are probably best summed up by a quote from Tarkovsky himself, “My purpose is to make films that will help people to live, even if they sometimes cause unhappiness.” His takes are longingly long, and every frame is a well-painted picture. Right out of the gate Tarkovsky made a splash with his first feature, Ivan’s Childhood, which won big at the Venice Film Festival. With his next film, Andrei Rublyov, he managed to win at Cannes, but he also pissed off the Soviet authorities and this biographical film about religious icon painter was banned in the USSR until 1971. In 1972 his film Solaris (remade by Steven Soderbergh in 2002) became one of his biggest breakthroughs in the west as many saw it as the Soviet version of 2001. Running afoul of the Soviet authorities with his largely autobiographical film The Mirror, which was also his grand experiment in what he referred to as “sculpting in time,” an attempt to use long unedited takes to show the very nature of time in his films. Eventually he burned enough bridges in the USSR that his films began production outside his homeland. His last film, The Sacrifice, was made in Sweden with a great deal of help from Ingmar Bergman’s stable of talent. The film won several awards at Cannes, and shortly after his death rumors circulated that he was targeted and poisoned by his own government.
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