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    Talk before screening of "Solaris" (February 19, 2012)part 3

    In his life, there were cases in which, some projects had not been approved for a long time, but only when they were approved, he became ready for them at last. The case of "Stalker" was even worse. I mean, he's retaken it all, because he didn't like. The reason for retake was neither a disturbance of authorities, nor the studio's mistake in developing film, it was his will to retake because he did not like. It cannot be allowed in the conditions of today's film production.
    In his life, such luxury, or rather a quirk of fate, there were many lucky cases for him when he could not do as he wanted.
    So I think, his life is surely that of a genius, but of a very special genius. His creative period lasted only 25 years. Counting from "Ivan's childhood", it was only 25 years. And he made seven films, seven feature-length films. It's a special life, and that very special life coincided with a very special period, by chance. That special period is the golden age of the Soviet cinema, of its film industry.

    As I said earlier, more than 10 million audience saw "Solaris". Among films of Tarkovsky more than 10 million audience had only " Ivan's childhood" and "Solaris". It's understandable that " Ivan's childhood" had so much an audience, because it was released less than 20 years after the war, it dealt with very popular theme at that time, it had an easy-to-understand story and of course, it won Grand Prix at Venice.
    Though, in the case of "Solaris", it was seen by 10 million people because it was a Sci-Fi film, namely, because it was a genre film. Tarkovsky actually did not like Sci-Fi. That was testified by Misharin who wrote with him the scenario for "Mirror" - he was a drama writer originally - he testified that. Tarkovsky had rather disgust at Sci-Fi. Then why did he get inclined to make "Solaris? based on Stanislaw Lem's novel?
    The reason is written in my book. Though it's a presumption, I think it fairly reliable one. That concerns the number of the audience I mentioned earlier, and the fact that the number of its prints was much greater than that of "Andrei Rublyov".
    Well, State Cinema Committee, the Soviet censorship institution, not only engaged in censorship, but also calculated the numbers of film copies so that Soviet film industry would normally, i.e. effectively function. It decided all; in which theaters this or that film should be released, or in first-class theater, or second-rate theater, etc. After Philip Ermash came to its top, that sort of thing was also considered. In fact, "Solaris" could obtain such a large audience because it's a genre film. In other words, because I was a Sci-Fi film. That's because it was made in a spectacular genre, commonly regarded as entertaining. Did Tarkovsky calculate it? He did calculate it, in my opinion.
    The evidence can be found in his diary. It is described in detail in this book. In fact, in the same year when "Ivan's childhood" was released, another film made not in Mosfilm, but in Lenfilm - second biggest studio of Soviet, located now in St.Petersburg, - recorded the top of the box office, of the attendance in Soviet history. Over the next few years, that work kept its position at the top. I'll explain what kind of film it was. It was based on a novel of Alexander Belyayev, the founder or a pioneer of Sci-Fi in the Soviet Union, That novel of A. Belyaev was titled "Amphibian man", a Sci- Fi with a touch of fantasy. Because Belyaev died in 1940s, if his novel was adapted to film, at that time the film would become only a fantasy. I saw "Amphibian man"a little, it's that kind of film, but there is an interesting fact.
    When he was just trying to make "Solaris", it was around 1970, Tarkovsky wrote in his diary that he wanted to make a film adaptation of "a story of a man who flies in the sky" by A. Belyaev. "A story of a man who flies in the sky" is "Ariel". And he worte a scenario based on it. He even had Vadim Yusov, the director of photography of "Solaris", read that scenario, so he seriously intended to make it. There is another interesting detail, that we can find also in his diary.
    With Friedrich Gorenshtein he wrote one scenario for the experimental film studio to earn money. He wrote that in his diary. What was that experimental film studio? It's one of the creative units in Mosfilm, there were several, as I said. They are named: the first creative unit, the second, the third, the experimental creative unit and so forth. It had such a variety. Names of the creative units differed by the studios, Some has only the first, the second etc., In general, there were several in a large studios, and each unit had its own specialized genre. In other words, it was also a part of the film policy of the Soviet Union that I've mentioned, and one of the strategies to meet the audience's needs by diversified genres.
    And Tarkovsky to some extent was drawn into that strategy, or rather, tried to gain more career as a director by using it. Otherwise there was no income. It was not so easy that one's state of belonging to the studio meant a constant salary in the Soviet Union. A director might become so poor to have debt without working for long. It can be seen from his diary. He did part-time jobs, too. He helped writing a screenplay for a studio in Central Asia, wrote with Alexander Gordon, his former classmate of film school, the scenario which Gordon must have directed, and he played a role in that film. Then with Arkady Strugatsky, who wrote the scenario for "Stalker", wrote a scenario not for a Sci-Fi, but for a detective, crime drama, like a quick-and-dirty work, and got the reward for that. The title is "Attention, snake!" Well, it is a normal film. I mean it's mediocre, the level is that of TV drama.

    Talking too much may give a bad impression to the film you see now, so I'll quit now. Tarkovsky was also a man of flesh and blood. Just like me, Tarkovsky was also a man of flesh and blood. Soviet Union was no heaven for the filmmakers, these facts can be checked more and more by further research. But the fact that film industry was in the Golden Age was lucky for him . In other words, as I said, there was a demand for his films.
    If in other countries only thousands, tens of thousands of people would see such films. but hundreds of thousands people rushed. Or millions of people. Thus when the entire film industry or entire film culture is thriving,- it's not the matter matter of capitalism or socialism - for making films of such authors like him, considerable budgets will be available. In any country, in Japan for example, this was true. For example, Akira Kurosawa's taken the "Throne of Blood" is 1957, when the Japanese film industry was at the zenith. In other era, no one will allow Kurosawa-san, make such a film. That's because Ran" was a co-production with France. "Kagemusha" was realized only after G. Lucas and F.F.Coppola had persuaded 20th Century Fox to become a co-producer on the condition that the Fox would be given world distribution rights.
    Although it's the same things in any country, when the film culture and film industry is in decline, it's impossible to make author's films with huge budgets. So old films looks better compared to films today, it's natural, but to expect it from today's filmmakers is wrong, there is no choice but to expect it from the film industry of U. S . Or from France, at best. Namely, the countries that support Film Art and film culture. That is why. About how France had supported film culture and film industry about its system, I wrote not in this, but in another, my next book "Cinema: Rebirth or collapse"(Japanese), with latest data included.

    映画 崩壊か再生か映画 崩壊か再生か
    (2011/09/20)
    西 周成

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    Shusei Nishi

    Author:Shusei Nishi
    私の専門は映画であり、映画と音楽には相違点も勿論ありますが、多くの共通点もあります。個人的には、映画は現在の形よりもっと音楽的であっていいのではないかと考えています。

    ここでは批評やレヴューというほどではなく、偏愛する音楽と映画、そして生活全般における“別の選択”について書いてゆきます。

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