Tarkovsky on Truth-Telling, and Going for Broke as a Filmmaker (or an Artist)

Dino Manrique's picture

Something worth re-posting from Ray Carney's website -- a quote from filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky about film school and learning -- a quote which can be applied to any art form, for that matter. Translation by one of Carney's students, Alex Lipschultz:

Quote:

"What is important to the education of a filmmaker is not a matter learning a set of skills and techniques, but having a vital, passionate need to express something unique and personal. Above all, the student has to understand why he wants to become a filmmaker rather than work in some other art form and he has to ponder what he wants to say in film's unique form of expression.

"In recent years I have met more and more young people who go to film school to prepare themselves to do "what they have to do" (as they say in Russia) or "to make a living" (as they say in Europe and America). This is tragic. Learning to use the equipment and edit a movie is child's play; anyone can learn that without half-trying. But learning how to think independently, learning how to be an individual, is entirely different from learning "how to do" something. Learning how to say something unique and different is a skill that no one can force you to master. And to go down that path is to shoulder a burden that is not merely difficult, but at times impossible to bear. But there is no other way to become an artist. You have to go for broke. You must risk everything in your quest to express a personal truth. It must be all or nothing.

"The man who has stolen in order never to thieve again is forever a thief. Nobody who has once betrayed his principles can have a pure relationship with life ever again. When a filmmaker says he will try to please people - relatives, friends, teachers, or reviewers -- this time in order to get a degree or earn the money to make the film of his dreams the next time, he is lying to you, or even worse, lying to himself. Once he heads down the path of deceit he will never be capable of making a real film."

--Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 124 (adapted and updated by Ray Carney)

Searching YouTube, I found this clip from the documentary A Poet in the Cinema: Andrey Tarkovsky where he tries to answer the question "What is art?" (I found other clips, but they might be appropriate for other posts).


Dino Manrique wrote: When

Dino Manrique wrote:

When a filmmaker says he will try to please people - relatives, friends, teachers, or reviewers -- this time in order to get a degree or earn the money to make the film of his dreams the next time, he is lying to you, or even worse, lying to himself. Once he heads down the path of deceit he will never be capable of making a real film.

i respect tarkovsky, but this statement i have to disagree with. many artists have "compromised" to get an opportunity in the future to do the real films they want. and this happens a lot in other arts too (ie bands that sign on to a major label are still capable of making powerful music). what i think is more important is the motivation for such decisions.

Dino Manrique's picture

I agree with you, this last

I agree with you, this last part is, to say the least, debatable. I posted the quote more for the second paragraph than the last:

Quote:

But learning how to think independently, learning how to be an individual, is entirely different from learning "how to do" something. Learning how to say something unique and different is a skill that no one can force you to master. And to go down that path is to shoulder a burden that is not merely difficult, but at times impossible to bear. But there is no other way to become an artist. You have to go for broke. You must risk everything in your quest to express a personal truth. It must be all or nothing.

A tall order, indeed, but something we must always strive for nonetheless. Smile