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Andrei Tarkovsky

From the 19th century onwards the "voice of Russia" has played an important part in Western culture. The writings of Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov and others seemed to possess a unique spiritual depth and seriousness, so much so that they have long since entered into every educated person's consciousness. That tradition continued on into the 20th century under the persecutions of Stalinism, and gave rise to titanic figures such as Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva, Brodsky, Pasternak and Solzhenitsyn. The filmmaker ANDREI TARKOVSKY (1932-1986) belongs firmly within this branch of Russian culture. Emerging in the 1960s, when Western cinema was going through a period of fascinating experimentalism ("new waves" in France, Italy, Germany, Eastern Europe etc), he seemed to speak with a gravitas that many of his contemporaries lacked: an authority linked to the fact that (almost alone among his contemporaries) his worldview was shaped by religion. In this weekend we will explore some of the different facets of Tarkovsky's artistic enterprise – his sense of history, his celebration of the family, his struggles with faith, his patriotism, his symbolism, his lyrical openness to the beauty of the world. Concentrating on one of his masterworks (Mirror, 1974), we will try to situate this movie in the context of his works as a whole: his lyrical war film Ivan's Childhood (1962); his medieval epic Andrei Roublev (1966-68); his two shots at "science fiction" – Solaris (1971) and Stalker (1979); and finally the pair of late, hermetic works made in exile, Nostalghia (1984) and Sacrifice (1986), that brought his career prematurely to a close.

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