Tarkovsky Haunts Cinema

Andrei Tarkovsky is one of cinema’s true poets. If you’re even a little hesitant to look at film as a legitimate art form just watch a film, any film, from the late Andrei Tarkovsky. He has a way of stretching time and action into images that get into the psyche of the characters. I remember watching Nostalgia for the first time, a scene where one of the characters attempts to take a candle from one end of a drained pool to the other without it going out, and it was affecting in its context. In a 9 minute shot he effectively captures the melancholy of his character without dialogue.

Tarkovsky isn’t for everyone. Often times people find his work boring, long, and pretentious. That’s a word, I find, that’s used too often with artists who try to communicate something real with their art, “pretentious”. I think artists who try to say something real or human are too often accused of preaching.


Something that Tarkovsky said of one of his films, Stalker, was that it wasn’t dull enough. He knows the effect his films have on a potential audience. He uses it as a tool to get under the audiences skin and accentuate the material, or to amplify something a character may feel. Though Tarkovsky certainly isn’t the only one to use long draw out takes to effectively move the audience to notice, he very knowingly uses it to tell a story.

Having written and directed only 7 feature films (from 1962 to 1986) he manages to capture a dark human portrait that spans the middle ages, modern times, and the future. He explores timeless human struggles that deal with the human condition. It can be pretty grim, and I know for a lot of people it’s just not interesting, but if really given a chance there’s value in this darkly alluring corner of cinema. Films that don’t necessarily entertain but probe your mind with subtle imagery and sound.

Justin Kataquapit

Justin Kataquapit was born in Moose Factory, Ontario, raised in various towns across northern Canada. He has an interest in classic literature, cinema, and has a wide array of interests in the arts. He is currently in his final year in the Professional Writing program at Algonquin College.