Films of Tom Tykwer:
1 year ago
“My discovery of Tarkovsky's first film was like a miracle. . . . Tarkovsky is for me the greatest, the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.”
“He immediately struck me as a character that had been destroyed, shifted off its axis by the war. Something incalculable, indeed, all the attributes of childhood, had gone irretrievably out of his life. And the thing he had acquired, like an evil gift from the war, in place of what had been his now, was concentrated and heightened within him.”
“I wanted to convey all my hatred of war. I chose childhood because it is what contrasts most with war. The film isn’t built upon plot, but rests on the opposition between war and the feelings of the child.”
“. . . Tarkovsky constructed his films out of very long takes, which involved intricate and continuous tacking, panning, and moving crane shots in combination with carefully prescribed actor choreography. It was said that Tarkovsky typically would spend two days planning for a single one of these shots before the actual take. Many of these continuously moving shots are about 90 seconds in length, with some lasting as long as three minutes. Often a single shot will start in closeup on a particular character, then track far away to cover a more distant scene of many people, and finally close in on that same original actor as he moves into an entirely new location. Tarkovsky’s moving crane shots were particularly dramatic, because they could have the somewhat unnerving effect of transporting the viewer into entirely new 'worlds' (contexts), all in the same shot. As a consequence the viewer is sometimes cast into multiple subjective focalizations within the course of that single continuous shot.”
1. Ivan returns from a lone mission
The film opens with imagery that turn out to be the first of the film’s four explicit dream sequences (besides those four dreams, the film also includes allusions to some other “dreamy” experiences). In Dream #1 Ivan is remembering idyllic moments wandering about in nature with his mother (Irina Raush Tarkovskaya, Tarkovsky’s wife at the time). But the boy awakens from the dream and finds himself in an abandoned mill. He then stealthily makes his way across a swampy river to the Russian side of the war front and reaches a military station commanded by Lieutenant Galtsev, who is unaware that the boy is actually a spy for the Russian army.
In this section, Ivan has another expressionistic dream sequence, Dream #2, this time more horrific, showing him and his mother looking down into a well, just prior to the death of his mother.
The next section seems to be somewhat of a diversion, but it offers more of a picture of Galtsev and Kholin. Masha is a beautiful young medic who operates an infirmary along the front line, and she draws the interest of both the romantically aggressive Kholin and the more reserved Galtsev. Just as the Colonel and Kholin want to send Ivan away from the front, Galtsev wants to send Masha away, too. For him, war is no place for women. But Kholin hopes she will stay around.
3. Preparation for the next Mission
Now the focalization shifts from Galtsev and Kholin back to Ivan. Although the Colonel and Kholin try to send Ivan back to safety, the boy stubbornly escapes his escorts and returns to the front in order to continue his fight. So they prepare for one more mission. Ivan is resolute and has a fantasy in his bedroom of him using his knife on imaginary German culprits. Later in his bed, he has another expressionistic dream from his childhood, Dream #3, featuring negative-image back-projection that shows him and his sister enjoying themselves on the back of an apple truck driving through the rain.
Early the next morning the three principals set out to cross the river over to the German side in order to carry out clandestine operations, with the focalization returning to Kholin and Galtsev. Ivan is supposed to go off somewhere on another spying mission. Kholin’s mission, which is apparently unauthorized, is more a matter of national pride: he is intent on collecting the corpses of two Russian soldiers which the Germans been placed on the river bank as captured trophies (they need to be given “a proper burial”). After all, isn’t war mainly conducted for the purposes of dignity, revenge, and national honor?
Amid heavy shelling, Kholin and Galtsev just manage to make it back to the Russian side of the river; while Ivan is presumed off somewhere on his own spying mission. Later, in a brilliantly choreographed and in-depth shot lasting 3:18, Kholin and Galtsev are back at their station listening to a gramophone and thinking of Ivan when Masha shows up to say good-bye to them. But as with much of life, the vital connection is not made, and she silently and moodily departs from the scene.
5. War’s Aftermath
The scene shifts to the celebratory ending of the war, with stock footage showing the suicidal outcomes of Nazi leaders and their families. While sifting through the records of an abandoned Nazi prison, Galtsev is shown reflecting on why he survived the war but Kholin did not. Then he runs across a photographic record showing that Ivan was also captured and executed.
The final sequence (Dream #4) shows Ivan in another idyllic setting, running along a beach after his sister, wile his mother lovingly looks on. After he overtakes his sister, he heads towards a dead tree, which constitutes the final image of the film.
“When less than everything has been said about a subject, you can still think on further. The alternative is for the audience to be presented with a final deduction, for no effort on their part, and that is not what they need. What can it mean to them when they have not shared with the author the misery and joy of bringing an image into being?”
“My opinion is that it’s necessary to afford the spectator the freedom to interpret the film according to their own inner vision of the world, and not from the point of view that I would impose upon him. For my aim is to show life, to render an image, the tragic, dramatic image of the soul of modern man.”
"In most of Godard’s movies, starting already with Breathless, there is a depiction of the romantic narrative being crushed by an unfeeling world ruled by capricious, uncontrollable forces.”