I have just read Zona by Geoff Dyer.
When I first saw Tarkovsky’s Stalker I realised it was the film I had spent my whole life waiting to see. There were scenes and images in it that I’d been longing to see on the screen. They immediately connected to experiences that I was unaware needed connecting to. When I eventually read Zona I again realised that it was a book I’d been waiting to read since seeing the film. Never has a book about a film about a place about a filmmaker been so dynamic and where there is noise in the book there is also silence. Tarkovsky doesn’t have to be a dirty word.
Here follows a few favourite slices (in reverse order)
“Tarkovsky thought the wife’s expression of love and devotion was the ‘final miracle’, the heart of the film, its ultimate lesson: ‘namely that human love alone is – miraculously – proof against the blunt assertion that there is no hope for the world. This is our common, and incontrovertibly positive possession.”
“They’re worn out, by the journey, by the scuffle, by the combination of disappointment and enlightenment, by the uncertain distinctions between faith, hope and belief, by the complex simplicity of whatever it is they have learned or not learned, by not knowing whether the lessons of evolution – of learning as you go – are ever going to be over with.”
(From Don DeLillo’s White Noise) “The point of rooms is that they’re inside. No one should go into a room unless he understands this. People behave one way in rooms, another way in streets, parks and airports. To enter a room is to agree to a certain kind of behaviour. It follows that this would be the kind of behaviour that takes place in rooms.”
“If you have a considerable instinct for reverence and if you don’t have an aversion to being revered, then it makes perfect sense to start revering yourself.”
“A true writer, as defined by Thomas Mann, is someone who finds writing more difficult than other people.”
(Tilda Swinton) “I saw Tarkovsky’s Stalker, and there’s a scene of that image – of a bird flying through a room of sand. And I’d been having that dream my whole life, or probably since before I was ten. I’ve stopped having it since that film, but it really blew my mind that someone else would have exactly the same image somehow and put it in a film. That really informed my relationship with cinema: the idea that it is what’s unconscious.”
“Wim Wenders thinks that with Stalker Tarkovsky took cinema into ‘utterly new terrain’ where ‘every step could be your last’. Everyone – audience, filmmaker, actors, even the medium itself – is in ‘extreme danger at every step’.”
“Here is the time of the sayable, here its home
Speak and avow. More than ever
the things that might be experienced are falling
what outs and replaces them is an imageless act” (Rilke)
The gentle reading of the last few pages of the book were as if coming into land sat atop a glider which served as a splendid tangent to watching the film Silence. Sat in front of its projected glow was truly a break, as if my day had leant down and pulled out a space in time for me to fall in to. It is a film that rests comfortably between a ‘film’ and a ‘documentary’ with a gentle, soft and quiet approach to the relationship between time, people, places and memory – and the capturing of places, the being in places. A film like this can only feature most people appearing as themselves and the concentration on sound and place and hearing almost makes time slow. These experiences and subjects in film only serve to accentuate that it is a film and you are watching it and that you must take from it and that the experiences are accessible. At the end I too felt like I was climbing the stairs of my childhood and when it ended I was left standing where I used to sleep.
If you like cinema, listening, places and memory you might enjoy it.
Great cinema must be projected. It is the difference (as John Berger put it) between watching the sky and peering into a cupboard.
//somewhere in england