Sunday, August 20, 2006

Tarkovsky on Big Screen

The Walter Reader theatre at the Lincoln Center is showing a retrospective of Russian "Fantastik Cinema", a collection of fantasy movies ranging from the silent period to the recent years. I was there on Friday evening for a screening of Solaris. It was quite good though I thought I should have gone for Stalker instead which played last week but I came to know about it only a few days back. Stalker has much more visual splendour than Solaris though it is not as affecting. It is also remarkable that Tarkovsky didn't think very highly of Solaris. He felt the science fiction element was too restrictive and you can almost see his disinterest when the characters talk of "neutrino structures" and "magnetic field" in an extremely casual and careless way. Stalker was more of a "Tarkovskian" sci-fi film--openly symbolic and with very little interest in the real science or any scientific "explanations". Tarkovsky, of course, to put it mildly, didn't think very highly of the whole scientific enterprise which I think was based on a misunderstanding of what the aims of scientific investigation are. By trying to understanding the nature of human experience through science we are merely trying to understand its objective and "universal" aspects. By doing this we don't in any way devalue the personal and unique nature of individual's own experience. And this is where art comes in and complements science. And I think Solaris beautifully illustrates this.

There were other movies in the selection too, none of which I had heard of before, except perhaps The Night Watch which opened theatrically a few months back. Anyway, it was a good experience. Watching a movie on DVD never does full justice to any film.

The Walter Reade theatre is also showing Sholay. It will run through the entire first week of September. So if you want to update yourself on some of its mythologies, be there! Link to the schedule

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