Cinema of Continuity:Tarkovsky and Béla Tarr: Aditya Tripathi
By Aditya Tripathi
‘Cinema of Continuity’
There are a few auteurs in cinema who have tried to realize, to reflect, the denseness of the continuum and the non-linearity of time thus preparing a ‘bildungsroman’ of space-time in which the subject is embedded. I prefer to call such cinematic consequences, ‘Cinema of Continuity’. When talking of space it is impossible to shun time. Time, which is not linear in this context. To my awareness Andrei Tarkovsky is the best artist of space time . He reflects ” History is not time ; nor is evolution, they are both consequences. Time is a state; the flame in which there lives the salamander of human soul.” He has a method to understand it ” Cause and effect are mutually dependent……Cause and effect are in moral sense linked retroactively and then a person does as it were return to his past”. He once envies the Japanese that they have ‘mastered time aesthetically’ through ‘Saba’ (a nuance, a sign of age) and he yearns to do so in his cinema which can be apparently seen in his ‘ The Mirror’ (1975). As for as space is concerned he goes on ” ..through the image is sustained an awareness of the infinite, the eternal within the finite, the spiritual within matter, the limitless given form..”. In Andrei Rublev (1966) we can see his exploration of this latter claim, that beautiful long sequence where the bell is being cast in the backdrop of the Tatar invasion. Tarkovsky further plays with the metaphysical notion of a loop through panning shots beautifully creating some short of magical moment in almost all of his films (specially in Solaris, The Mirror, Andrei Rublev). Beautiful selection of non-diegetic music adds to the magic of dream logic and extraordinary spatial moments such as levitation shots. The long takes are such that you do not want to come out of it though materially not much transpires, spiritually you belong to it , be it, with the subject in question. It rarely happens otherwise. You want to live that moment, that cinematic fact which turns out to be a ‘hieroglyphic of truth’, artistically.
The second auteur is a master of space and space alone. There is a sense of timelessness in his films. The man who as it seems wants to depict the ancient Greek paradoxes of dichotomy in his single shot-extreme long takes and tracking shots. None other than the Hungarian director Béla Tarr. And what is meant here by Béla is his works post Öszi Almanach (1984) and since Kárhozat (1988) till A Torinói Ló (2011), reportedly his last film. Though single shot-long takes and tracking shots have a history, best example being Kenji Mizoguchi (for example his the Last Chrysanthemum, 1939. who had a mastery over it, but what Béla does to it is embedding some kind of haunting dark force by ceasing utterly the camera movement for a while during the extreme long takes with slowest possible movements, accompanied by natural white noise apposite to the cinematic ‘incident’ in question. Then there are the close ups of faces in a manner as if the camera is trying to perceive the story of that being. Space itself is the principal character, the protagonist of his films and its character is not already formed but is evolutionary, being built piece by piece, the retrospect added continuously consequence of which is a sense of shock, a catharsis when the space is finally redeemed in/by the infinite, eternity, and the cinematic process is culminated.
One might wonder that while writing about these two I have completely ignored individual films of theirs and thereby have ignored the individual themes or stories of those films. To that I would say, that is not important here and therefore the advertent selection of the term ‘auteurs’ and not directors. Further, Stanisław Lem’s futuristic Solaris is not as appealing as the aesthetically appealing and more humane Solaris of Tarkovsky or reading Roadside Picnic will not set the visuo-metaphysical plain prepared in Stalker. On a different level though László Krasznahorkai is a brilliant novelist and a collaborator of Béla with his Az Ellenállás Melankóliája and Sátántangó it is a pleasure to watch Werckmeister Harmonies or Sátántangó (the film) than to read the aforesaid novels they are based on. The novels concentrate upon the concepts, the linguistics and the philosophical problems sui generis to literature and though they set the stage for the drama they fail to appropriate the space the way cinema would do.
Aditya is a post graduate in Economics from Delhi School of Economics. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.