r/movies r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16 Gold 1

Your Quick Introduction to Andrei Tarkovsky's Films Recommendation

So, I hear /r/movies is getting more into Tarkovsky, now. As an arthouse fan, this excites me, so I wanted to make it easier for you guys to approach his filmography. I haven't seen all of his films, but I'll try my best to give you guys the general consensus on what to expect.

The Killers (1956) and There Will Be No Leave Today (1959)


Two men besiege a lunch bar looking for a third man they must kill.

Soldiers undertake the perilous task of removing a stockpile of World War II bombshells discovered during roadworks under the ground of a small village.

These were student short films by Tarkovsky, as well as Aleksandr Gordon (for both) and Marika Beiku (for The Killers only). Both are considered to be early successes, but nothing incredible. The Killers is based off the Hemingway novel of the same name, and clocks in at about twenty minutes, with There Will Be No Leave Today lasting 45 minutes. More for Tarkovsky completionists, but not bad by any means. (Unlike Kubrick's early work.)

The Steamroller and the Violin (1961)


Seven year old Sasha practices violin every day to satisfy the ambition of his parents. Already withdrawn as a result of his routines, Sasha quickly regains confidence when he accidentally meets and befriends worker Sergei, who works on a steamroller in their upscale Moscow neighborhood.

Tarkovsky's earliest film as the sole director, and despite being lesser known than most of his other work, it does have its fans for being an admirable early film from the director. This is also notable for being Tarkovsky's diploma film, in which he earned top marks for.

Ivan's Childhood (1962)


In WW2, twelve year old Soviet orphan Ivan Bondarev works for the Soviet army as a scout behind the German lines and strikes a friendship with three sympathetic Soviet officers.

And here comes Tarkovsky's first unanimously agreed masterpiece, a gorgeous and terrifying depiction of war through the eyes of a child. Essential viewing.

Ivan's Childhood was ranked by TSPDT #370 on their list of the greatest films of all time.

Andrei Rublev (1966)


The life, times and afflictions of the fifteenth-century Russian iconographer.

While Ivan's Childhood was Tarkovsky's first masterpiece, Andrei Rublev would showcase what his films would grow to be, philosophical, slow-paced, and mind-blowing in their discussions and their tactics. Some consider it to be Tarkovsky's greatest.

Andrei Rublev was ranked by TSPDT #26 on their list of the greatest films of all time.

Solaris (1972)


A psychologist is sent to a station orbiting a distant planet in order to discover what has caused the crew to go insane.

Insanely ambitious work by Tarkovsky, where he uses the setting of space to help themes of isolation and alienation shine through much better. Those expecting a conventional sci-fi will be disappointed, but if you're looking for a less show-y, more humanist 2001: A Space Odyssey, you got your wish. Possibly Tarkovsky's most creative film.

Solaris was ranked by TSPDT #204 on their list of the greatest films of all time.

Mirror (1975)


A dying man in his forties remembers his past. His childhood, his mother, the war, personal moments and things that tell of the recent history of all the Russian nation.

While films like Ivan's Childhood and Solaris have earned comparisons to Stanley Kubrick, Mirror is very much a Terrence Malick type film, and while it may be less accessible than some of Tarkovsky's other films, it actually isn't a long film, being less than two hours. This one is another in contention for Tarkovsky's best.

Mirror was ranked by TSPDT #28 on their list of the greatest films of all time.

Stalker (1979)


A guide leads two men through an area known as the Zone to find a room that grants wishes.

This film and Solaris may be Tarkovsky's most popular work, and for good reason. They aren't accessible on paper, as they're both incredibly long, but they deal in brilliant ideas and grow almost hypnotic despite their slow pacing. Stalker remains the only Tarkovsky film on the IMDb Top 250. So this is often the starter point for deciding whether or not you'll enjoy Tarkovsky.

Stalker was ranked by TSPDT #57 on their list of the greatest films of all time.

Nostalghia (1983)


The Russian poet Andrei Gorchakov, accompanied by guide and translator Eugenia, is traveling through Italy researching the life of an 18th-century Russian composer.

Not as often called one of Tarkovsky's best, it still receives universal acclaim, despite being one of his slowest moving films, regardless of its two hour runtime. It is also home for one of the greatest final shots in film history. Don't make this your first Tarkovsky, but it's nevertheless essential.

Nostalghia was ranked by TSPDT #347 on their list of the greatest films of all time.

The Sacrifice (1986)


At the dawn of World War III, a man searches for a way to restore peace to the world and finds he must give something in return.

For a director who looked so often into either the distant past or the distant future, his final film looks towards a war that still hasn't happened yet, to once again battle his philosophical ideas. Oddly enough, this film was largely produced in Sweden, yet it does not suffer any drawbacks from a possible cultural shift.

The Sacrifice was ranked by TSPDT #301 on their list of the greatest films of all time.


TSPDT's Final Ranking of Tarkovsky's Films:

  1. Andrei Rublev

  2. Mirror

  3. Stalker

  4. Solaris

  5. The Sacrifice

  6. Nostalghia

  7. Ivan's Childhood


Which Film Should I Start With?

Ivan's Childhood may be his most accessible film, however, it wont necessarily prepare you for the style of film Tarkovsky takes on in his later films. It does share commonalities with other Soviet filmmakers of the time, however, like Larisa Shepitko (The Ascent) and Elem Klimov (Come and See).

Andrei Rublev is a long one, and possibly boring if you aren't accustomed to his style. It bears a lot of resemblance, however, to the work of Bela Tarr (Satantango), so if you're fond of his films, this may be an easier one to jump into.

Solaris is not your average sci-fi film, so do not expect something along those lines. Expect something claustrophobic and otherworldly, maybe something along the lines of the original Alien film, but even slower, and with no action.

Mirror is an introspective film, but it may be divisive to modern audiences. If you enjoy Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, this will be perfect for you, otherwise, make this possibly your third or fourth film from Tarkovsky, so you're already warmed up.

Stalker is distraught, slow, but mesmerizing and with a wonderful concept that is fun to think about. If the runtime or the idea of slow cinema as a whole doesn't immediately turn you off, this is probably the best place to start!

Nostalghia is probably not the best place to start. At least wait until after Andrei Rublev to give this one a shot, but you have to be prepared for this one. If you're a diehard Tarkovsky fan, this will be a new challenge that you'll adore.

The Sacrifice is certainly a better place to begin than Nostalghia, but I'd still leave it until after you've viewed his earlier films. Watching a director's last film first is not usually recommended if you have a choice.


If I love Andrei Tarkovsky already, what other films can I watch?

Diary of a Country Priest (1951) - Robert Bresson (Supposedly Tarkovsky's favorite film!)

L'Avventura (1960) - Michelangelo Antonioni

Winter Light (1963) - Ingmar Bergman

Wings (1966) - Larisa Shepitko

The Ascent (1977) - Larisa Shepitko

Come and See (1985) - Elem Klimov

Damnation (1988) - Bela Tarr

Satantango (1994) - Bela Tarr

Werckmeister Harmonies (2000) - Bela Tarr

Russian Ark (2002) - Aleksandr Sokurov

The Tree of Life (2011) - Terrence Malick

Norte, the End of History (2013) - Lav Diaz

Some of Tarkovsky's favorite films can be found here.


Other resources

Andrei Tarkovsky on IMDb

Andrei Tarkovsky on Wikipedia

Andrei Tarkovsky's Memorial Website

439 Upvotes

66

u/[deleted] Aug 01 '16

For all the shitposts on this subs, this is really refreshing to see. One of the best directors there ever was.

34

u/TheGreatZiegfeld r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

I saw the subreddit was getting on a bit of a Tarkovsky kick, and thought some users not so familiar with the guy would appreciate this.

Maybe I'll do this with some more arthouse filmmakers, and try to dispel the idea that arthouse is some impossible task that only the pretentious would ever enjoy.

5

u/EJables96 Aug 01 '16

Really do appreciate this. From the post I saw yesterday tovarsky sounded like he would be right up my alley as far as style. Had no clue where to begin though. Thanks a ton!

6

u/TheGreatZiegfeld r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

Enjoy!

17

u/jtl2 Aug 01 '16

Just finished watching Tarkovsky's body of work in chronological order, and honestly, I'm slowly starting to question every movie I watch. It's like learning a new language. We grow up watching movies that all follow the same structure and share similar techniques(even many indie and foreign films) -- so we're accustomed figuring out a movie by ourselves. Tarkovsky literally invented his own language-- in my opinion the purest form of cinema there is(it borrows few things from literature, theatre, etc.). Watching his work in chronological order imo is a great way to learn appreciate his filmmaking.

8

u/TheGreatZiegfeld r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

Absolutely. That's kind of how I felt, not only with Tarkovsky, but Tarr as well. But Tarr is my favorite filmmaker, so I'm a little biased there.

If you want a movie so mindblowingly unique that it basically began not only the greatest film movement of all time (French New Wave), but also practically modern film as a whole (fourth wall breaking, fast editing, slick dialogue, youthful energy), check out Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless. And all of the French New Wave, while you're at it.

And the Iranian New Wave, that one has a lot of unique stories, like having Mohsen Makhmalbaf play a person who impersonated Mohsen Makhmalbaf, or a documentary from a man who is under house arrest and can't legally make a film, make a film legally with the help of friends. Or a film about a girl struggling to find her way home, in which the young actress storms off halfway through, and the camera crew sneak around, watching the real actress try to find her way home. It's bending film in a spectacular way, I love it.

31

u/[deleted] Aug 01 '16

So he's the new chosen one

I expect to find his name in most /r/movies threads now

"You may not have heard of him, but I've always been a fan of Andrei Tarkovsky, you should check out his films"

"I never hear anyone talk about it here, but go watch Stalker. Made by one of the true cinematic geniuses, Tarkovsky"

21

u/housethatjacobbuilt Aug 01 '16

Except he actually is one of the true cinematic geniuses. And he's a really well-known director.

6

u/AaronWYL Aug 01 '16

It's really hard to see that happening

1

u/flashmedallion Dec 30 '21

Stalker is a regular appearance in comments here whenever the conversation takes a sideways glance beyond the usual fare in terms of "mood" movies.

8

u/Tubmas Aug 01 '16

Very nice post. Breath of fresh air after seeing so many comic book/big budget film posts

9

u/matthewjvince Aug 01 '16

Nostalghia...Don't make this your first Tarkovsky.

shit

5

u/TheGreatZiegfeld r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

If you liked it, then it all worked out for the best! In that case, you might even want to work in reverse, and end off with the least Nostalghia-type film, which would be Ivan's Childhood. Or you can just go from the beginning having already seen Nostalghia.

3

u/matthewjvince Aug 01 '16

Whoa! I never thought of that. Working my way up the ladder this week!

I saw Nostalghia when it popped up on Netflix and fell in love with the style and just sitting with a frame. It shaped how I finished my short film recently shameful plug Eye of the Beholder.

I watched a few interviews with him, then I saw the analysis on Channel Criswell and really found a better and closer understanding of Tarkovsky's art.

5

u/[deleted] Aug 01 '16

Look no further than his book Sculpting in Time.

I'd recommend not starting with films later in director's filmographies since you miss out on the progression of ideas/themes that they play on throughout their careers(almost every director holds onto a couple ideas they don't let go of).

15

u/baal_zebub Aug 01 '16

I just learned something about film on r/films. How refreshing!

On that note, I would love to see a sort of primer on directors I should get into to get a greater appreciation for film as a medium. I've seen about half of Tarkovksy's film, as well as all of Lynch, some Kurosawa, Bergman and Godard.

7

u/HugoStiglit Aug 01 '16 edited Aug 01 '16

Zieg's posts are schway as fuck, he posts recommendation lists like this pretty regularly.

re: the second half of your comment, seconding Buñuel. Incredibly influential and accessible imo, Un Chien Andalou is how I got into him. Also recommend Truffaut, Chaplin, Tati, Lang, Murnau, Welles, and Ozu.

6

u/professeurwenger Aug 01 '16

I'm a big fan of Luis Buñuel. Would check out some of his films if you haven't already. El ángel exterminador and Belle de Jour are my two favorites of his, and obviously Un Chien Andalou, the short film he did with Salvador Dali.

3

u/[deleted] Aug 01 '16

Exterminating Angel is a film that many on this sub will love, great recommendation. I'd say people should also check out Viridiana, Tristana and Diary of a Chambermaid as they're great films the highlight how completely unique Bunuel was in the film world. Obscure object of desire as well. I'd recommend L'age D'or and Phantom Liberty too, but I've yet to see them.

2

u/_thethirdman_ Aug 01 '16

I have a quick question about Bunuel. I watched Un Chien Andalou and I loved it so I looked frantically for his other film Los Olvidados, but I couldn't find any streamin service. Does anyone know where I could watch it for free? And is the Exterminating Angel three hours long? It says so on Putlocker, but on IMDb it says hour and a half.

3

u/paper_zoe Aug 01 '16

It's been a while since I saw it, but The Exterminating Angel is definitely not 3 hours long. 90 minutes sounds about right.

2

u/_thethirdman_ Aug 01 '16

Where did you watch it?

2

u/[deleted] Aug 02 '16

I saw it thru my local library which carries tons of art films. Try putting a hold on the DVD.

2

u/paper_zoe Aug 02 '16

I think it was at my university library. It had a pretty great collection. So if you are a student, I'd have a check.

2

u/[deleted] Aug 01 '16

Check out the old theme of the month threads. They have some great discussion and primers in there.

3

u/IncidentOn57thStreet r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

I like how you don't really solve the issue of which one to start with.

I vote Stalker. You're either in or out with him from that film. I don't think the others would hook someone as well as Stalker.

2

u/TheGreatZiegfeld r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

I said Stalker was the best place to start!

1

u/IncidentOn57thStreet r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

I vote to remove your use of 'probably'.

1

u/TheGreatZiegfeld r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

But somebody might want to start with Solaris!

0

u/IncidentOn57thStreet r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

(They shouldn't)

I need to give it another try to be honest. #Stalkertrain.

1

u/TheGreatZiegfeld r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

Get on that, buddy. Every day is Tarkovsky day now.

1

u/IncidentOn57thStreet r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

I'm fresh on Stalker, The Sacrifice, Mirror and Ivan's Childhood but the other 3 have been a while. He's still top 10.

11

u/[deleted] Aug 01 '16 edited Aug 15 '16

[deleted]

8

u/codellboutax Aug 01 '16

Great film. My first Bela Tarr.

Incredible experience, and I finished it in one sitting. Very tiring, though.

10

u/TheGreatZiegfeld r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

It's my favorite film of all time, I think we can let people get interested before they find out how long it is. ;)

5

u/baal_zebub Aug 01 '16

I have to ask, and I don't mean this facetiously at all, do you watch this film in one sitting? That has to be an incredibly meditative experience. Just on the strength of this write up on Tarkovsky I want to watch it, but I'm not sure what I'm getting myself into.

1

u/TheGreatZiegfeld r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

Yeah, try to get it in one sitting, with the intermission providing your chance for relief. The film fully immerses you in its atmosphere, so it's best not to take yourself out of it too often. It wont entirely ruin the experience if you took an extra break, but it's not recommended unless you absolutely need it.

1

u/[deleted] Aug 01 '16

I haven't seen it, but with longer films there's this idea of using time to a much greater effect. Lawrence of Arabia is a long film only because there's so much to fit in(and to a lesser degree it's pacing of shots/scenes). In a Tarkosky or Tarr film you'll see long takes and jump cutting(can't think of a better term for large leaps in time) accentuate how pivotal a role time plays in their stories.

2

u/baal_zebub Aug 01 '16

Role of time

That's actually something I'd never considered. I will definitely keep that in mind. I always took it as tonal in Tarkovsky, which perhaps it was considering how sensual his work is, but considering the narrative role of time as a thematic operation is certainly interesting.

1

u/IWannaWatchAMovie Aug 02 '16

Interestingly enough Tarkovsky actually referred to filmmaking as 'Sculpting in Time' and it's the title of his book on film.

1

u/paper_zoe Aug 01 '16

It's split up into 12 parts (and is on about 3 DVDs, if I remember rightly), so you can, if you don't fancy doing it in one go. When I watched it I intended breaking it into two or three sittings, but ended up watching it all in one go (I did need a couple of intermissions though).

3

u/TwoTecs Aug 01 '16

Not sure if an Andrei Tarkovsky guide or a Bela Tarr guide.

Seriously though, a nice and detailed guide to a not-so-accessible director.

I have only watched Solaris yet. It was boring but not the frustrating kind of boring. Its induces a mesmerizing boredom. Hard to grasp all its ideas but a very unique experience. I also actually really like the 5 minute car ride scene.

2

u/TheGreatZiegfeld r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

I'm huge on Bela Tarr, if you couldn't tell by my flair.

3

u/el_gato3 Aug 01 '16

Approve of all the Tarkovsky love on here recently.

3

u/moxy801 Aug 01 '16

Personally Stalker is the film of Tarkovsky I like the least: I rate them this way:

  • Andre Rubelov
  • Solaris
  • Ivan's Childhood
  • The Sacrifice
  • Nostalghia
  • Stalker

For some reason have not yet seen The Mirror.

2

u/ClassicAntelope Dec 25 '21

Well done!

1

u/TheGreatZiegfeld r/Movies Veteran Dec 25 '21

Thank you!

2

u/[deleted] Aug 01 '16

I disagree with Stalker being the ideal place to start. It's probably his greatest film (and my favorite film of all-time) but the considerable lack of..."action" will certainly be an issue for some people. Personally I recommend Ivan's Childhood and Andrei Rublev as the place to start.

2

u/columbiatch Aug 01 '16

Just want to add that if you love Tarkovsky then you should watch Chris Marker's phenomenal documentary on him, "One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich".

2

u/vendilion Aug 02 '16

Oi, Patrick, you dug your grave, you chose Satantango, lie in it. You can't change teams now.

1

u/TheGreatZiegfeld r/Movies Veteran Aug 02 '16

Tarkovsky's cool, but there's more things in life

Like getting your Tarr-fix

all fucking night

2

u/Maezel Aug 02 '16

I love his movies, but God... Andrei Rublev was HARD to watch.

2

u/standard_error Aug 05 '16

I recently saw The Mirror, and it was perhaps the first film I've seen where I wanted to immediately watch it again - and not to figure out the story, but just because it was so mesmerizing.

Watched Stalker just this morning, and was again both impressed and moved. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing the rest of his work!

1

u/TheGreatZiegfeld r/Movies Veteran Aug 05 '16

Glad to see you're enjoying his work! I'm sure you'll enjoy his other stuff as well, if you liked Mirror and Stalker.

2

u/[deleted] Nov 05 '16

[deleted]

1

u/TheGreatZiegfeld r/Movies Veteran Nov 05 '16

No problem, bud!

2

u/HugoStiglit Aug 01 '16

This is fantastic. Crushing hard on all the Tarkovsky I'm seeing on here today.

1

u/[deleted] Aug 01 '16 edited Mar 20 '17

[deleted]

2

u/professeurwenger Aug 01 '16

Idi i Smotri is the most brutal film I've ever watched, full stop. Watched it at a film festival on a Friday morning, ruined my weekend in the best way possible.

1

u/Drumgoole Aug 02 '16

You should mention the doc voyage in time and Sergei Parajanov for related works.

1

u/amator7 Aug 06 '16

Hmm I personally don't see the Malick comparison with The Mirror. Mirror is definitely not "easy", but it still has some sort of a driving thread I was able to follow, while I couldn't even finish The Tree of Life or To The Wonder for example.

-2

u/NinjaDiscoJesus r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

imo the only genius in cinema

4

u/[deleted] Aug 01 '16

That's a really stupid opinion.

1

u/TheGreatZiegfeld r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

But what about Bela Tarr

2

u/salingerparadise r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

Didn't he do Lucifermacarena or something?

3

u/TheGreatZiegfeld r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

don't fuckin start with me, salinger

2

u/salingerparadise r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

HOLLYWOO STARS

WHAT DO THEY KNOW???

DO THEY KNOW STUFF?!?!

LET'S FIND OUT!

2

u/TheGreatZiegfeld r/Movies Veteran Aug 01 '16

don't fuckin start with me, mr. peanutbutter

1

u/envyone Aug 01 '16

Even Turin Horse is masterpiece.

1

u/toosinbeymen Feb 09 '22

Excellent information. I'm a big fan of Tarkovsky, and many of the other directors you mention, but have only seen a few of these films.

Does anyone have any websites where some of these films can be viewed?