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Painting in Time: Time and Art in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Art Cinema

  • Author / Creator
    Ivanycheva, Diana
  • This dissertation is an attempt to explain how Tarkovsky uses paintings of famous artists such as Andrei Rublev, Pieter Bruegel, Leonardo da Vinci, and Piero della Francesca in order to address the question of cinematic temporality and spirituality in his films. The dissertation expands on what has already been written on the issue of spirituality and temporality with regards to Tarkovsky’s aesthetics. It focuses on how time is represented—or how the experience of time is represented—in the paintings shown in Tarkovsky’s films and how these manifestations contribute to the spiritual qualities of the cinematic medium. I argue that it is through this specific treatment of time seen as tightly connected to the paintings that Tarkovsky’s films acquire their status of spiritual cinema. By incorporating religious art and by focusing on the ideas of spiritual practice, such as contemplation, Tarkovsky explores the question of the transcendental, while tightly connecting it to our experience of time. This thesis coordinates critical theories on time, temporality, memory, autobiography, and nostalgia with film and photography theories, literary theory, and art history.
    The thesis is organized around four of Tarkovsky’s films in which paintings are used as an essential part of the cinema aesthetic. The first chapter focuses on the connection between time and spirituality via the use of Russian icon painting in Andrei Rublev. Chapter Two explores the relationship between time and movement via the landscape imagery of Pieter Bruegel’s Hunters in the Snow, as used in Solaris. Chapter Three examines Mirror as an image as opposed to script led film in which stillness dominates movement. This stillness is considered in the context of the representation of faces, both in the film and in Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait painting Ginevra de’ Benci. The last chapter explores the idea of time suppression and the nostalgia for time itself. It looks at how Piero della Fancesca’s fresco Madonna del Parto plays a role in reconciling the tension between stillness and movement, which eventually represents the tension between nature and technology, spirituality and materialism, originality and reproduction, painting and cinema. Ultimately, this thesis proposes that in their spiritual aspect Tarkovsky’s films can be paralleled with the paintings of high art. Like icon paintings, his films can be called “image-mediators”. Through temporal defamiliarization they help to reconsider profane linear time in favor of the spiritual timeless observation of phenomena passing through time.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2019
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-nm4v-4x85
  • License
    Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.