Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sculpting in Time: Tarkovskian theory of cinema

The concept of time in film has been a fascinating aspect to me. The past, nostalgia, dreamy flashbacks, foreseeable futures and even basic montages that cut through time. And then, there are also the concepts of linear story-telling and horizontal story-telling (Linear Vs. Non-linear narratives) which we may all be familiar with.
But I recently came across this great filmmaker - Russian director, Andrei Tarkovsky - who actually developed a theory of cinema called "Sculpting in Time" where the passage of time is in "real time" as in unedited sequences. To be more precise, here's an excerpt from Wikipedia about his method and style of working/directing.
Tarkovsky developed a theory of cinema that he called "sculpting in time". By this he meant that the unique characteristic of cinema as a medium was to take our experience of time and alter it. Unedited movie footage transcribes time in real time. (The speedy jump-cutting style that is prevalent in music videos and many Hollywood movies, by contrast, overrides any sense of time by imposing the editor's viewpoint.) By using long takes and few cuts in his films, he aimed to give the viewers a sense of time passing, time lost, and the relationship of one moment in time to another. Up to and including his film Mirror, Tarkovsky focused his cinematic works on exploring this theory.
This is one area I really wanna explore in my future projects. But I guess this is mainly possible in story structures that demand a specific emotional response. I don't think there's any way to make fast-paced movies with this kind of a styling. Well, we could, maybe intersperse the sculpting-in-time scenes with action and create a horizontal structure. And we should keep in mind that the narrative shouldn't get lost in the array of parallel scenes.
(Pic courtesy -

No comments: