Andrei Tarkovsky is probably the greatest filmmaker the majority of filmgoers don’t know about. Sure, you and I know who he is, but I write here and you read it, so we’re not typical filmgoers. Tarkovsky ‐- who was revered by the likes of Kubrick, Spielberg, Scorsese, Coppola, Lucas, Soderbergh, Lynch, and pretty much anyone worth a damn who ever sat in a director’s chair after 1970 ‐- lives in the shadow of those he’s influenced. He is kept alive to folks outside our circle but still in the realm of film fandom, not by the value of his own name but rather by these influences touting his value.
This is a damn shame because, for everyone in love with 2001: A Space Odyssey, there’s Tarkovsky’s Solaris; for fans of THX 1138 or A Clockwork Orange, there’s Stalker; for people who enjoyed Lynch’s non-linear narratives Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, or Inland Empire, there’s Mirror. Tarkovsky is that rarest of filmmakers, the kind who imbues every frame with meaning and resonance, and whose plots are in complete sync with the imagery on-screen.
There are no bad Tarkovsky films, they transcend such binary rating systems because they aren’t entertainment they are art, and art isn’t for rating it is for appreciation, it is for learning from, and it is for the edification of the form and the viewer, not for praise or basic and arbitrary designations of worth.
I could go on and on about the inherent greatness of Andrei Tarkovsky, and I have before, as have hundreds of other film critics, journalists, bloggers, and fans. But nothing speaks to the power, the grace, and the lasting effects of Tarkovsky’s cinema better than that cinema itself. And in the following ten-minute montage, Martin Kessler has visually sewn together the most breathtaking and enduring scenes and sequences from the director’s body of work and set them not to commentary but music. This allows the images to speak for themselves and Tarkovsky to project his themes and meanings in a primal, emotional way.
Kessler has subtitled his video “Cinema of the Soul,” and I don’t think he could have chosen better. Tarkovsky’s is indeed a cinema of the soul, but not just his own. It could, in fact, be considered the other way around, as the soul of all cinema.