Tarkovsky and Russian Cinema 101

By mattdentler | Matt Dentler's Blog July 7, 2009 at 2:57AM

Tarkovsky and Russian Cinema 101
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It's a good month to hang out at Lincoln Center in Manhattan, for some air-conditioned quality filmgoing. First up is the staggering Andrei Tarkovsky retrospective, which runs until July 14, and is highly recommended but also not going to be everyone's cup of tea. Anchored by the new documentary, Meeting Andrei Tarkovsky, the series includes such classics as Solaris (1972), Stalker (1979), and The Mirror (1974).

The late Russian master will impact you like few filmmakers have before. I was introduced to Tarkovsky in high school, when I worked at Blockbuster Video in Brownsville, TX and couldn't stop staring at the giant and colorful video box for Stalker. Took it home, became spellbound. Another night, I rented Solaris, and became hooked deeper. When I was in college, Tarkovsky's imprint inspired me to enroll in a Russian cinema course (I was the only non-Russian speaker in the group, as it was offered by the Slavic department and not the Film department). While there were a few other Russian directors I grew to admire (particularly Nikita Mikhalkov and Alexander Sokurov), no one comes as close to iconic status as Tarkovsky.