Sculpting in Time Critical Context - Essay

Andrey Tarkovsky

Critical Context

(Literary Essentials: Nonfiction Masterpieces)

The theory of cinema found in these pages represents the culmination of an aesthetic movement begun by Ingmar Bergman and supported by Federico Fellini, following the production of his Le notti di Cabiria (1957; The Nights of Cabiria). Bergman’s preoccupation with religious belief and Fellini’s trenchant critiques of material values via his surrealist techniques in Giulietta degli Spiriti (1965; Juliet of the Spirits) and later films launched a movement that enjoyed critical favor for a generation. Tarkovsky especially liked the Spanish work of director Luis Bunuel. He liked Bunuel because films such as Viridiana (1961) were protest films devoid of political ideology.

Like Bergman, Fellini, and Bunuel, Tarkovsky swam upstream against the tide of popular filmmaking. Ironically, his style was more acceptable in the West during the 1960’s, when his own films were limited in distribution. Having emigrated to the West in the 1980’s, he made it his candid mission to help rescue filmmaking from the crass materialism of capitalism, yet by then, the aesthetic movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s was yielding to a new realism. His own films never received the acclaim of those of other radical directors, partly because of the limited distribution of Soviet films and partly because of the waning of that style. Hence, through Sculpting in Time, Tarkovsky seeks to explain his type of art to a generation unacquainted with it.