sontaran’s review published on Letterboxd:
My favourite thing was the sounds. The stillness and silence of the Zone normally is a backdrop that means that all the other sounds stand out so much or at least I was paying attention to them more. The sounds were a big part of creating the hypnotic dream-like feeling that this movie has.
That is similar to the other Tarkovsky movie I’ve seen so far which is Sacrifice but I would say more so in this one because there are more settings and that allows for there to be more distinct moods and just generally a greater variety of images and scenes which makes it more immersive to me.
In terms of the actual subject matter, I would be lying if I said I “got it”. I do feel like you’re not really supposed to though and at least on the first watch it gets you thinking and definitely has strong rewatch value because of that. With that being said, all three of the main characters are in some way at odds with their existence and how they fit in the world around them and it is captivating to see them wrestle with their mortalities, their anger at the fickleness and baseness of people, self loathing and the concept of life after death.
The idea that resonated the most with me though is the difficulty to determine what it is that you truly want. It is difficult to separate the conscious from subconscious desires and more difficult to then decide which one truly represents oneself.
This struggle, especially the part where he says “These are intangibles that the moment you name them their meaning evaporates like jellyfish in the sun”, was the crux of my experience with this film on my first watch.
The merit is not mostly in the plot events but in the dialogue which I think is the most straightforwardly “smart” dialogue I’ve seen in a movie. There’s no putting it in layman’s terms or hiding it in words that are also meant to entertain or move the plot along. Not that it doesn’t hold your attention, but I just feel like Tarkovsky assumes the audience is intelligent enough to digest the ideas he’s trying to express or doesn’t care.
Then again, I wouldn’t say intelligence like it’s difficult to understand but more willing to? Idk
His filmmaking style is so distinctive and (at least compared to the majority of what I’ve seen) unconventional which is always refreshing.
I did start falling asleep at one point though :( but to be fair I was working all day today