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TitleThe Sacred Cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky
ISBN 139781861710284
CategoryArts - Film
File Size17.9 MB
Total Pages581
Document Text Contents
Page 291


Love, Qender and Sexuality

In the end everything can be reduced to the one simple element which is all a
person can count upon in his existence- the capacity to love That element can
grow within the soul to become the supreme factor which determines the meaning
of a person's life My function is to make whoever sees my films aware of his need
to love and to give his love, and aware that beauty is summoning him

Andrei Tarkovsky (ST, 200)

Judging by what Andrei Tarkovsky says, love seems to be at the heart of his

philosophy He wrote that 'human love atone is - miraculously - proof against the

blunt assertion that there is no hope for the world* (ST, 199) Here Tarkovsky

echoes the mythos of the Western world from early Christianity to 1960s counter*

culture: the belief that love is a transformative power in society, political as well as

sexual or familial, that 'all you need is love' Tarkovsky is a romantic idealist, and

his sentiments chime with those of artists such as Novalis, johann Wolfgang von

Goethe and Emily Bronte. Yet there are few images of romantic love or expressions

of grown'tip sexuality in his films (And Tarkovsky doesn't go anywhere near the

wilder sides of sexuality, such as the pornography, S/M, transsexuality and

eroticism in the fiction of Georges Bataille, William Burroughs, Marquis de Sade,

Andrei Tarkovsky 305

Page 580

Only once or twice is Tarkovsky's cinema explicitly erotic. In Gorchakov's

dream, Eugenia sits above him, and his hand clutches the mattress But this is more

maternal than erotic, for Eugenia is whispering to him, comforting him in his

nightmares, rather like the way the witch in The Sacrifice comforts Alex (however

Eugenia's hair is down - a sign of sexuality in Tarkovsky's cinema - and she doesn't

look particularly 'motherly') Just before this shot there's the ambiguous embracing

of Eugenia and Gorchakov's wife It is a fantasy of Gorchakov's of Russia

embracing Italy, a reconciliation of nations and homelands It is more a gesture of

feminine and national solidarity than lesbian eroticism, as when Adelaide embraces

the maid in The Sacrifice (the two women hugging next to the bed in Nostalghia

recalls a scene in Ingmar Bergman's The Silence, where the two sisters, Anna and

Ester, embrace beside a window and sitting on a bed)

Tarkovsky is not one of those filmmakers who's that interested in investigating

sexuality He is not like, say, Bernardo Bertolucci or Pedro Almodovar, who

construct whole films around sexual relationships In Rainer Werner Fassbinder's

cinema, love is inextricably bound up with politics, with materialism and exploit'

ation (in the powerful film Fox and His Friends, for instance [1974, West

Germany]) Fassbinder rigorously explored the blurred boundaries of gender, desire,

materialism, homosexuality, class, labour and power structures Fassbinder said

iove is the best, most insidious, most effective instrument of social repression* (j .

Franklin, 142) This is clear from Fox and His Friends, Lola (1981 , West

Germany) or The Marriage oj Maria Braun (1978, West Germany) Filmmakers

such as Fassbinder, Godard, Bertolucci, Almodovar and Antonioni make incisive

explorations of sexuality and its relation to identity, society, politics and destiny.

(Godard, in the 1960s, seemed to contrive to have a nude woman in just about every

film - somehow there are always naked women drifting about in his films - even in

those about Christian saints, such as Hail, Mary [1984, France]) But for the

Hollywood film machine, sexuality is usually merely another incident in the

construction of a formulaic narrative film, dealt with at a superficial, saccharine

level a marketing tool, a tease, something to put in the trailers

Andrei Tarkovsky 312

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