“Art would be useless if the world were perfect.” – Andrei Tarkovsky
Russian auteur Andrei Tarkovsky is often regarded as one of the most influential artists in the history of cinema. Over a career of 25 years, Tarkovsky added seven feature films in a nearly flawless filmography. The fact that his oeuvre is still being discussed and dissected by students, audiences and even other filmmakers, 34 years after his death, is proof of the enduring importance of his work.
In a past interview, Tarkovsky spoke about the anxiety of influence, “In general, I’m very afraid of these things and I always try to avoid them. And I don’t like when someone then reminds me that in this or that case I did not act with complete independence. But now, recently, quotation is also starting to become interesting to me. Mirror, for example, has a scene, a shot, which could very well have been filmed by Bergman. I reflected on the opportuneness of filming the scene that way. Then I decided that it wasn’t important. Oh yes, I thought, it will be a sort of homage that I make to him.”
Tarkovsky considered very few of his contemporaries as his equals, including Ingmar Bergman and Robert Bresson. When he was asked about eminent American filmmaker Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, Tarkovsky said, “2001: A Space Odyssey is phony on many points, even for specialists. For a true work of art, the fake must be eliminated.” However, Kubrick was a great admirer of Tarkovsky’s films and included 1972’s Solaris and 1986’s The Sacrifice in his list of 93 favourite films.
Video essayist Vugar Efendi has created a beautiful side-by-side comparison of the respective filmmaking styles of Tarkovsky and Kubrick, two filmmakers who Efendi claims “have defined and pioneered the cinematic language.” The video essay investigates the use of symbolism and visual narrative by presenting Eyes Wide Shut next to Ivan’s Childhood, A Clockwork Orange next to Stalker, Paths of Glory next to Andrei Rublev. After watching the video, one YouTube user came away with the eloquent conclusion that Kubrick’s art was like “visual prose” while Tarkovsky mastered “visual poetry”.
Watch the video essay below.