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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Endings and beginnings and everything in between...

I want to talk a little about endings. Don't worry though, I would never spoil the end of a Tarkovsky film for anybody! When I first saw the ending of Tarkovsky's version of Solaris (1972) I promptly put the Part One tape back into my VCR and started over again. I love that about his films. The endings make you rethink the whole film again. In particular, the ending of Stalker left me confused, baffled, dumbfounded, speechless and exhilarated. I went right back to the beginning and started over. Tarkovsky has a way of ending films with a scene that encourages you to watch from the beginning again applying what you now know to each scene. It becomes a whole new experience. Tarkovsky made seven films that were released theatrically. Some of his films were not released until years after they were finished. They needed to be approved by Russian authorities first and this was a long process which frustrated Tarkovsky to no end. But he had no choice. The cinema industry, much like any other industry, was controlled by the Soviet state. Goskino USSR (the State Committee on Cinema) was owned and controlled by the Soviet government and the Communist Party.

I started this Blog for myself to write down and organize all my miscellaneous notes, observations, questions and revelations I have accumulated over the last couple years while Watching Stalker into a coherent, chronological shot by shot analysis (But I think we all know that is never going to happen). Stalker was based on the book Roadside Picnic by the brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. It's a great book, and I've read it many times, but Tarkovsky continuously rewrote the screenplay so many times that he more or less made the final draft his own much to the exasperation of the Strugatsky Brothers. The final film is so far removed from the original story that I am not going to compare the book to the movie. I also won't be discussing the production or Tarkovsky's personal life, which is fascinating in itself. I just want to focus on the story in the film and the incredible Directing style of Andrei Tarkovsky. I also can only comment from the best translations available to me. I don't speak Russian so that is the best I can do as far as the script is concerned. Luckily, the visuals in the film need no translation and the viewer can experience them and their affect on a personal level. My purpose here is not to give answers. There are none. Only questions. I want to encourage anyone who reads this and finds it interesting, to watch the film and share your ideas, questions, observations and interpretations. This is a great film and remember that everything I talk about is just my opinion and point of view. I'm no expert. I am not trying to interpret this film for anyone but myself. Actually "interpret" is the wrong word. Maybe just my understanding or not understanding the events in the film and how, and why, it has such a hold on me personally. I'm just an average guy who thinks this movie is incredible. I hope you will too.

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