Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tarkovsky Example of Plot Movement Becoming Time

If you've read some of my other posts you know that I've been doing some research on the potential for the movement-images described by Deleuze in Cinema 1 to become time-images within respective shots and montages. I believe one example in film that accomplishes this blend is the pool sequence which occurs towards the end of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker. In one shot we get sustained voiceover (which actually begins in a previous shot) while the camera slowly moves from a close-up of the main character to a tracking shot peering straight down over a shallow pool. The voice over eventually fazes out and we hear a symphonic blend of eastern meditative music fade in as the shot eventually ends with the camera making its way back to an inanimate hand half-submerged in the pool. Through this shot we are partially made privy to the true nature of “The Zone”, which is what the characters in the film (and the audience) are eager to uncover.

Here's a clip of the sequence (shot starts at :57):

By combining this narrative reveal with the superbly executed long take and flow of visuals, music, sounds, and dialogue, Tarkovsky achieves that ebb and flow of action-oriented plot, pure contemplation and reflection, but also formless movement through the motif of the water. In examples like this it is more of a challenge to connect action and perception with time and sensation because the two extremes naturally remove one from the other. By condensing these opposing forces into small sequences/shots a filmmaker can really induce powerful affects in the viewer.

--Jonathan Masino

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