August 12, 2014

The Top 10 Favorite Films of Legendary Director Andrei Tarkovsky

andrei tarkovskyBack in 1972, world-renowned director Andrei Tarkovsky sat down with film critic Leonid Kozlov around the same time as the release of his 5th feature film Solaris and was asked to share his top ten favorite film. With great intention and thought, the legendary filmmaker jotted down on a piece of paper the films that, sure, he probably enjoyed and learned a lot from, but considering the artist and film philosopher Tarkovsky was, had done more to contribute to the art of cinema as a whole.

It seems as though a top ten list from Tarkovsky would be all the film school you could ever need -- ever. The director's cinematic motivations were guided by his philosophy on art. Film was a much bigger thing than beautiful aesthetics and entertaining storytelling. Film was a way to reconcile living amidst (and consisting of) imperfection and the beauty and wonder of life. The part where they meet is what Tarkovsky defined as art -- it was the reason he gave for art existing: to create harmony in a dissonant world.

Kozlov describes the meeting with Tarkovsky in his article:

It was at this point that I asked Tarkovsky if he would compile a list of his favorite ten or so films. He took my proposition very seriously and for a few minutes sat deep in thought with his head bent over a piece of paper. Then he began to write down a list of directors’ names - Buñuel, Mizoguchi, Bergman, Bresson, Kurosawa, Antonioni, Vigo. One more, Dreyer, followed after a pause. Next he made a list of films and put them carefully in a numbered order. The list, it seemed, was ready, but suddenly and unexpectedly Tarkovsky added another title - City Lights.

Take a look at Tarkovsky's top ten list below:

Tarkovsky top ten

The article written by Kozlov about the exchange with Tarkovsky was reprinted in a section on the University of Calgary's website entitled Nostalghia, which is dedicated to the director. You should definitely take a minute to read it in its entirety (here's an image of the actual printed article), because Kozlov is able to read into the seemingly straightforward nature of top ten lists written by filmmakers. It's easy to immediately assume that Tarkovsky includes the titles he does simply because they entertained, inspired, and instructed him. However, Kozlov proposes something more:

Like the numerous top ten lists submitted by directors to various magazines over the years, Tarkovsky's list is highly revealing. Its main feature is the severity of its choice - with the exception of City Lights, it does not contain a single silent film or any from the 30s or 40s.

The reason for this is simply that Tarkovsky saw the cinema's first 50 years as a prelude to what he considered to be real film-making. And though he rated highly both Dovzhenko and Barnet, the complete absence of Soviet films from his list is perhaps indicative of the fact that he saw real film-making as something that went on elsewhere. When considering this point, one also needs to bear in mind the polemical attitude that Tarkovsky became imbued with through his experience as a film-maker in the Soviet Union.

For Tarkovsky, the question lay not in how beautiful a film-maker's art can be, but in the heights that Art can reach.

If you're itching to learn more about the films that touched Tarkovsky, MUBI has shared a bunch of titles that the director had mentioned he admired in different publications and interviews. You can check out that list here.

What do you think Tarkovsky's top ten list says about him as a filmmaker?

Link: Tarkovsky's Choice -- University of Calgary

[via Cinephilia and Beyond & The Film Stage]

Your Comment

25 Comments

I can't believe he didn't put Jurassic Park on his list...

#NotARealFilmmaker

August 12, 2014 at 4:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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bro he was 7 years dead when Jurassic Park was released
he liked Terminator though

August 12, 2014 at 4:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tark Swag

It doesn't matter if he's dead or not. Jurassic Park surpasses everything!

August 12, 2014 at 5:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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He liked terminator ?? Where did he say that ? Thats pretty cool if true.

August 12, 2014 at 6:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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ShpotaSb

Yes he did! I have read that in one of his interviews

August 12, 2014 at 6:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Conephile

Eh, peeps are pulling your leg here, Shpota ... Tarkovsky was just as likely to have liked a Leonid Gaidai comedy as the "Terminator".
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BTW, #33 on his list is a Soviet WWII propaganda film "Zoya", (Leo Arshtam, 1944) based on a story which veracity has long been discredited. Of course, Tarkovsky died when the USSR was still enduring its last gasps and was denied the opportunity to be aware of it. Then again, most of the Soviet history was a lie and Andrey must have grasped that immediately.

August 13, 2014 at 3:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Tarkovsky on Terminator: "The brutality and low acting skills are unfortunate… But as a vision of the future and the relation between man and his destiny, the film is pushing the frontier of cinema as an art."

August 13, 2014 at 8:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tark Swag

Tarkovsky was the king of into depressing martyrdom. In that sense, I can understand how and why he connects both to "Zoya" (a Soviet Jeanne d'Arc as a real life NKVD saboteur hanged by the Germans in 1941) and the "Terminator" (the time-traveling Kyle Reese character who feels no qualms about forfeiting his life for a greater cause). "Zoya" professed martyrdom at the behest of the state. The philosophy behind the terminator is far murkier because, as he rails against the machines in some of his films, James Cameron is a staunch advocate of the technological advances in his other statements. Tarkovsky probably saw what he wanted to see in the film - as was his wont - and sympathized with its Solzhenitsyn style rejection of the industrial and industrialized - civilization. Which was the main point behind the "Stalker" as well.
.

August 14, 2014 at 11:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

+1

August 12, 2014 at 7:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Stalker changed my life. I watch it every few months. Art in its highest form.

August 12, 2014 at 4:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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David White

Agree

August 12, 2014 at 5:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Willard

Absolutely superb!

August 12, 2014 at 10:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ghostdog

Stalker is sublime.

August 13, 2014 at 12:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jerome

Sidenote.

All his films are available to watch for free.

http://www.openculture.com/2010/07/tarkovksy.html

August 12, 2014 at 4:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Filip Wesołowski

thanks for the link!

August 13, 2014 at 6:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Richard Lizier

Wow I love that list. Must be why so many Tarkovsky movies are in my top 10. I like Pickpocket better than Diary of a Country Priest, and I haven't seen Nazarin, but the rest are all awesome.

August 12, 2014 at 6:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Bababooey

Surprised not to see a Dreyer film such as Ordet on his list but a very good list indeed

August 12, 2014 at 10:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ghostdog

I only have seen 7 samurai on that list. It is more difficult to find such films and to watch such films, as the pacing of film has changed drastically over the years + they seem very dated. However I do feel you can always find inspiration in the old movies.

August 13, 2014 at 5:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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anonymous

The films on Tarkovsky's top 10 list are EASY to find. Great cinema is more available now than it has ever been before. You could stand to learn a lot by just working your way through the Criterion Collection (but don't think that's all there is to world cinema history).

And really, one could contend that film pacing has actually gotten slower over the years. Take a look at the best and most important filmmakers in recent years/decades: Hou Hsiao-hsien, Abbas Kiarostami, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, etc. Things have slowed down, surprisingly.

August 14, 2014 at 10:19AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jon

It's never been easier

April 6, 2015 at 12:50AM

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the films listed are all relatively easy to find - as long as you have the mind to look for them. concerning pacing... this is really a matter of training your brain to watch them, and shaking yourself loose from the fast-cut style that you've conditioned yourself to. once you do, you'll be able to watch anything...

April 10, 2017 at 7:58AM

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Lucas
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ben tre di Bergman!

August 13, 2014 at 2:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Few filmmakers have touched this guys work, now if only Andrei and Bill Murray were the same generation. Game over.

August 13, 2014 at 10:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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nice to know that :D !

November 26, 2014 at 6:04PM

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avatar
Revilo von Asur
Producer/Writer/Designer/Musician/Director of Photography
103

One of the favorite film makers of mine, I have watched almost all his movies from MovieBox App. I don't know from where I have downloaded before, but now it is available in iApps4you App Store for non jailbroken devices, I have found this link to get iApps4You on the web. Hope this is useful. http://fasttechfeed.com/iapps4you-ios-10-app-download-iapps4u/

April 11, 2017 at 3:06AM

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