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Sculpting in Time: Tarkovsky The Great Russian Filmaker Discusses His Art Paperback – January 1, 1989


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press; Reprint edition (1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0292776241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292776241
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 7.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

If Sculpting in Time could be distilled to a single message, it would be this: Content and conscience must come before technique—for any artist in any art form. (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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This book is an introduction to the rules that Tarkovsky set for himself in achieving this goal.
frumiousb
There is a spiritual quality and undercurrent to Tarkovsky's films that runs very, very deep - and is extremely moving.
Larry L. Looney
Tarkovsky is one of the few to seriously consider the subject and this is a master work on film as art.
Rollo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Alejandra Vernon HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 16, 2000
This extraordinary book is not just about filmmaking, it's about all art...about life, faith, inner exploration and the Russian soul. It contains exquisite poetry, mostly written by his father, Arseniy Tarkovsky, and detailed descriptions of the making of several of his films as well as photos of them that are eerie, mystical, and incredibly beautiful. Tarkovsky is the master of making us see the wonder of creation in the most mundane subjects. He brings us one step closer in our journey towards the light. From page 43: "The allotted function of art is not, as is often assumed, to put across ideas, to propagate thoughts, to serve as an example. The aim of art is to prepare a person for death, to plough and harrow his soul, rendering it capable of turning to good".
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on January 21, 2000
The idea behind the title of the book is that the film-goer goes to the cinema to experience time, and that the director's job is to sculpt the time that the audience experiences-- cut away the inessential words and seconds and pieces. This book is an introduction to the rules that Tarkovsky set for himself in achieving this goal.
The book covers his thoughts around a wide range of his films, beginning with "Ivan's Childhood" and finally ending with "The Sacrifice". On the way he covers his view of various aspects (both concrete and philisophical) of the cinema. Other chapter titles include "Cinema's destined role" and "The author in search of an audience".
The book is beautifully written and the ideas are important and relevant. It's useful on the level of the student learning film techniques (he provides some wonderful examples of the difference in how major and minor directors handle the same character moments in different films. It's also useful as a book about the philosophy of art in general (and cinema, obviously, in specific).
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Larry L. Looney on December 4, 2003
If that sounds like a heavy load...in the hands of some, it could well be just that. Here, it's a different - and refreshing - story. In this book, the great Russian film director looks back at his life's work - but not in the standard `this is how I did this' format. Rather, he approaches his cinematic creations from the aspect of his views on life as a whole: Where does mankind stand today, in respect to the past? In what direction should we turn - not just for answers, but also for the very questions themselves? What is the definition of art - and how does `artistic' cinema differ from `entertainment'? The discussion he undertakes here will open your mind and soul, as well as your eyes.
Over the course of this book's nearly-250 pages, Tarkovsky addresses these questions and many others - and at the same time, gives the reader invaluable insights into the thoughts that inspired his amazing films. The work progresses roughly in a straightforward time-line - unlike some of his films - and lays out the director's beliefs as well as his methods, but not in a cold step-by-step way. Instead, I came away from this book feeling that I understood Tarkovsky as a human being much more than I did before - and, as a result, I now feel like I know him better as an artist as well.
Without employing standard plotlines, characterizations, overdone (and overused) special effects, or any other low-ball devices so prevalent in film, Tarkovsky's works reach into the very soul of the viewers and touch them on the very deepest level. Far from being cold and emotionless and surreal, his works are some of the most moving I've ever experienced - and, true to his vision, they do so by actually being ULTRA-real, evoking the feelings that we carry around at our core.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 11, 1999
SCULPTING IN TIME, gives the reader an intimate invitation into the mind of filmmaker, Andrei Tarkovsky. In this single, slim volume, Tarkovsky gives penetrating insight into his conceptualization of cinema as an art form. Although he does not refer to all of his films, one finds detailed information concerning his approach to cinematic form and why his films are so different and affecting. Tarkovksy, speculates on the role of the artist in today's world. He points the direction that others who may want to enter into the cinematic arts should go. Most importantly, one gets an engrossing look at the aspects of the cinema that define it as an artform outside of literature, painting, and the theatre. It is a profound book and one that you will find yourself re-reading again and again. It is to be cherished.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By 4thDegree on September 12, 2000
I suspect that perhaps even someone unacquainted with Tarkovsky would find this book interesting - provided that someone is curious about the relationship of art, human experience, and transcendence. One of the most inspired and inspiring works about cinema I've encountered, it releases the floodgates of cinema's potential energy and power. Next to the films themselves, this is the most important work to own for students or admirers of Tarkovsky. Probably as close as a book can come to representing a sacred text on the art of film.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A. Schneider on May 25, 2006
Verified Purchase
"Sculpting in Time" is truly an amazing work of art in its own right. Certainly filmmakers have written books about their artistic styles in the past. Philosophers have written elaborately on the subject of aesthetics as a whole in the past as well. And yet "Sculpting in Time" offers those with aesthetic interests something truly unique.

It should be forewarned that Tarkovsky, like Ingmar Bergman, was heavily interested in aesthetic philosophy. In fact Tarkovsky's ideas regarding art borderline the metaphysical (as this book is often used in higher level philosophy classes), and yet - through the tone in which the book is written - "Sculpting in Time" manages to appeal to the average Tarkovsky or cinema studies fan in such a way that no other aesthetics book has managed.

Tarkovsky's self-written "Sculpting in Time" is an amazing supplement which describes the brilliant filmmaker's use of filmic techniques but also goes a step further by explaining (at great length), why the filmmaker believes those techniques are significant. The value of his tried efforts to create a meaningful work of art directly relate to Tarkovsky's view of art as a whole.

Tarkovsky's views of art are complex and yet are reiterated for the reader so simply they stand out in "Sculpting in Time" like a gem. For instance the underlying theme in Tarkovsky's writing is the idea of an "absolute truth" of art which can be derived a given piece of art. Without giving too much away, Tarkovsky's beliefs, as expressed in his chapter "Imprinted in Time" mostly, is simply that art done for the right reasons - containing some form of objective truth within it - serves to link us (subjective beings), with an "absolute.
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