Best Films of Andrei Tarkovsky

Andrei Tarkovsky, Russian filmmaker


Andrei Tarkovsky—inarguably the greatest auteur to have emerged from Russia since Sergei Eisenstein—is often touted in film circles as the most original filmmaker of the 20th century. Cinema, like art, can be a great healer and a ferocious inflictor, and perhaps it is this attribute that elevates cinema above the banalities of the quotidian, thereby giving it a scope that’s boundless and power that's unparalleled. However, cinema, with its ever-growing dimensions, has served to be a sophisticated artistic instrument that only a few artists have succeeded in wielding over the last one hundred years. And even fewer have had the courage and the conviction to leverage this power of cinema to propagate their abstract thoughts, deepest desires, innermost pain, and endless suffering, thereby leaving a lasting impression on their audience. Ironically, the one moviemaker who is often overlooked despite the fact that his vision for cinema and penchant for moviemaking was both unparalleled and distinctively uncompromising, even during an era that was dominated by colossi like Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Luis Bunuel, Robert Bresson, Satyajit Ray, and Stanley Kubrick, is Andrei Tarkovsky. The reason that Tarkovsky's works are not as widely celebrated as the decorated works of some his contemporaries is that among the lot his are the most abstract, exhaustive and hence closest to the literary definition of art. In his three-decade long career, Tarkovsky, owing to his constant struggles with conservative Soviet regime, could make only a handful of movies, each of which can serve to be a live thesis on metaphysics, empiricism, existentialism, spiritualism, and theology. 

Tarkovsky mastered the use of time and space in cinema that helped him to express the hitherto inexpressible. Tarkovsky's oeuvre can be looked upon as a repertoire of avant garde, auteur-driven, thought-provoking works which include timeless masterpieces like Andrei Rublev (1966), Solyaris (1972), Nostalghia (1983) and The Sacrifice (1986). Tarkovsky, who is often referred to as a maverick and a genius, played an integral role in the development of modern art-cinema. Tarkovsky’s cinema like Russian Literature has a close association with poetry. In fact, the best way to scrutinize his otherwise abstruse works is to treat them as poetry. Tarkovsky’s ability to seemlessly juxtapose his characters with the surroundings added a whole new dimension to his contemplative style of moviemaking that employed the use continuous long shots and slow camera movements to stimulate its audience. Tarkovsky, like any great artist, always strived for perfection and his uncompromising ambition and unflinching boldness often made him appear peremptory and restless. But, Tarkovsky consummately balanced these ostensible shortcomings of behavior with truckloads of patience, persistence and perseverance. Tarkovsky, being the undisputed master of the "Visceral", often made his cinema touch new highs and lows as he glided through the bizarre, alienated territories with an ease and comfort of a quixotic artist perpetually lost in his art. Swedish maestro Ernst Ingmar Bergman said of Takvovsky: “When film is not a document, it is dream. That is why Tarkovsky is the greatest of them all. He moves with such naturalness in the room of dreams. He doesn't explain. What should he explain anyhow? He is a spectator, capable of staging his visions in the most unwieldy but, in a way, the most willing of media. All my life I have hammered on the doors of the rooms in which he moves so naturally.” 
Best Movies by Andrei Tarkovsky (as per IMDb user ratings)

2). Ivan's Childhood (1962)
4). Solaris (1972)
5). The Mirror (1975)
6). Nostalghia (1983)
7). The Sacrifice (1986)


Top 5 Movies by Andrei Tarkovsky (Author’s Pick)

1). Solaris (1972) 
2). Stalker (1979)
3). Andrei Rublev (1966)
4). Nostalghia (1983)
5). The Sacrifice (1986)


the mirror, directed by andrei tarkovsky


solyaris, directd by andrei tarkovsky

nostalghia, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

the sacrifice, directed by andrei tarkovsky, Sven Nykvist

ivan's childhood, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky


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9 comments:

  1. a super read, a super listing, in my list, if i leave stalker out, i have mirror and rublev on top. thanks a lot for this stimulating analysis.

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  2. Thanks a lot, Subhorup... I am really glad that you liked it. All his seven movies are very dear to me and I rate them with the very best in cinema.

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  3. 1. Stalker
    2. Nostalghia
    3. The Mirror
    4. Ivan's Childhood
    5. Solaris
    6. The Sacrifice
    7. Andrei Rublev
    I didn't much care for Sacrifice or Rublev, but both are ones I'd like to see again. Rublev was my first Tarkovsky, and I surely wasn't ready for it at the time.

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  4. Thanks a lot Martin for sharing your list of Tarkovsky movies... and I must say that I happen to agree with it for the most part. And, yes, you must watch Andrei Rublev again to appreciate it fully :-)

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  5. Excellent post. I think all of Tarkovsky's movies have something to offer a cinema-lover. All his movies for a enlightening experience, it's like being in a serene atmosphere. Mostly, words are not enough to describe the Tarkovsky experience. I still haven't seen Sacrifice and Nostalghia.

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  6. The Mirror is easily Tarkovsky's best. By a looooooong shot, in my opinion. Then Stalker, then Andrei Rublev, The Sacrifice and Solaris. Lastly, There are Nostalghia and Ivan's Childhood, which I like but not as much as the others

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  7. Thanks for sharing your thoughts... Mirror is indeed brilliant... but, for me, Solyaris is his greatest cinematic achievement closely followed by Stalker.

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    Replies
    1. Solaris is amazing, of course, and I would easily rate every Tarkovsky film (except for Ivan's Childhood and Nostalghia) 10/10 (though I never give numerical ratings to films. Think it's reducing).

      The Mirror is undoubtedly Tarkovsky's most personal, experimental and dense film. And with experimentation comes divise among fans. It is also truly like a poem, not "poetic visuals" (an absolutely stupid thing to say. Just say "beautiful", guys, if you see beauty in a film that doesn't mean it's poetry!). Indeed, most Tarkovsky fans rate it either as one of Tarkovsky's absolute best or as his worst.

      For what it's worth, Tarkovsky himself wasn't too keen about Solaris. He said it "failed to transcend genre" or something (absolute nonesense. Even as a Tarkovsky fan I can't stand such statements).

      P.S. I am the same guy you responded to before (Lior1209). It's just that here I'm using my Google+ account instead of my Disqus one.

      Delete
  8. (Posted here on Disqus, on behalf of Lior1209)
    Solaris is amazing, of course, and I would easily rate every Tarkovsky film (except for Ivan's Childhood and Nostalghia) 10/10 (though I never give numerical ratings to films. Think it's reducing). The Mirror is undoubtedly Tarkovsky's most personal, experimental and dense film. And with experimentation comes divise among fans. It is also truly like a poem, not "poetic visuals" (an absolutely stupid thing to say. Just say "beautiful", guys, if you see beauty in a film that doesn't mean it's poetry!). Indeed, most Tarkovsky fans rate it either as one of Tarkovsky's absolute best or as his worst. For what it's worth, Tarkovsky himself wasn't too keen about Solaris. He said it "failed to transcend genre" or something (absolute nonesense. Even as a Tarkovsky fan I can't stand such statements).

    ReplyDelete

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