Friday, September 22, 2017


We're back! In this installment of The School Of Tarkovsky we're going to look at some more comparisons that slipped through the cracks in these last few months. If you follow me on twitter then some of these will look familiar. But for those of you who do not - here are some additional comparisons/visual similarities from regular students of Tarkovsky like Carlos Reygadas & Nuri Bilge Ceylan along with unexpected filmmakers like Wong Kar Wai & Barry Jenkins.

While some of these comparisons are in fact totally coincidental (which still doesn’t take away from how cool they look next to each other), you have to understand the connections that some of these have with one another. You aren’t required to know the backgrounds of these images and/or the filmmakers responsible for them but if you feel the need to negatively & cynically question Tarkovky’s influence (like some do on various forms of social media), at least know what the fuck you’re talking about. The more people question some of these comparisons the more they just confirm that they don’t read about cinema very much. I understand that some of this pushback comes from the assumption that I’m calling their favorite filmmakers “copycats” when that isn’t the case (there are only so many original images & ideas in film. You could trace the majority of modern cinema's visual influences back to the work of early Bunuel, Epstein & Cocteau).
I’m not always talking out of my ass when I compare films. Especially in the case of Andrei Tarkovsky. I don’t mean to repeat myself but some of the regular filmmakers who pop up in this series are folks like Carlos Reygadas, Lars Von Trier, Claire Denis, Elem Klimov & Alexander Sokurov. When Carlos Reygadas first stepped on the scene with his first two films (Japon & Battle In Heaven), can you honestly say to yourself that he didn’t bring up Andrei Tarkovsky any chance he got when being interviewed? Not only that, but in the special features of Japon he goes out of his way to praise Tarkovsky. Given those two facts, is it so far-fetched to think that he wouldn’t reference Tarkovsky in his work (see below along just about every other entry in this series)?
Lars Von Trier not only dedicated some of his work to Tarkovsky but he also once said that he wanted to be Andrei Tarkovsky early on in his career (he also name-dropped Tarkovsky more than once at a video Q&A at the IFC Center back in 2006 where I was in attendance).

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – Claire Denis worked on Tarkovsky’s Sacrifice. While that doesn’t guarantee that his influence rubbed off on her, the connection between Denis & Tarkovsky is still there on some level.

Is it out of line that Alexander Sokurov would draw inspiration from the films of his personal friend Andrei Tarkovsky?

I always find it funny when filmmakers rummage through the criterion collection closet praising the films that influenced them or talk about the scenes they “ripped off” on a DVD commentary track (see/listen to any early Paul Thomas Anderson commentary track) but when someone (…me) shows the influence they speak of, suddenly everyone goes; “whoa whoa whoa! That’s pretty vague, man! You could find those images in any movie!” It really makes no sense to me.

Speaking of rummaging through criterion closets, look at Barry Jenkins who recently participated in the criterion closet series. Someone recently put together a lovely video analysis comparing Moonlight with the films of Wong Kar Wai (many people are ripping it off as their own work) which he co-signed and endorsed. It should also be noted that Mr. Jenkins took joy in a few of my own movie comparisons as well…

Given Barry Jenkins' obvious love of cinema, is it really too far-fetched to think that a Tarkovsky film rubbed off on him in some way (see the first image below)?

Solaris / Moonlight

I dedicated an entire entry comparing the work of Nuri Bilge Ceylan to Tarkovsky so when you see this Stalker/Uzak comparison, please don’t question me...
Stalker / Uzak

The horrors of war seen through the perspective of young Russian Protagonists who start out innocent & hopeful but by the end of the film they’ve aged psychologically (highlighted by scenes where you can see the aging all over their faces as they look directly in to the camera).
I don’t think it’s so out of line to compare these two movies. Do you?
Ivan's Childhood /  Come & See

The contrast of a fake/model house next to a real house burning to the ground...
Badlands / Sacrifice

This could be a reach but it still looks cool, doesn't it?
The Mirror / The Clouds Of Sils Maria

Ivan's Childhood / In The Mood For Love
There's nothing to debate here
Ivan's Childhood / The Revenant

again - nothing to debate...
Ivan's Childhood / Post Tenebras Lux

Ivan's Childhood / The Tree Of Life

The Mirror / The Thin Red Line

The Mirror / Silent Light

While Bertrand Bonello is more a student from the School of Bresson (he would have his actors watch Bresson films to prepare for their roles), it isn't too out of line to assume he was influenced by other filmmakers like Tarkovsky
Andrei Rublev / Tiresia


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