Sculpting in Time

Andrei Tarkovsky was hardly the first or only filmmaker to engage with questions of temporality in film. Michelangelo Antonioni (obsessed with ennui and empty spaces), Andy Warhol (given to provocatively long running times) and Chantal Akerman (fixated on everyday ritual and minutiae) all made important contributions to the “cinema of duration,” to use a term coined by the critic André Bazin.

 
 

 Andrei Tarkovsky

 
 

But Tarkovsky, whose famous long takes signal a profound mistrust of the rapid montage of revolutionary Soviet cinema, was perhaps the most single-minded believer in the transcendent ability of the moving image to express what he called “the course of time within the frame.” He spoke of “the pressure of time” and described the process of finding a film’s rhythm as “sculpting in time” — a phrase that provided the title for his collection of essays.

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