Tarkovsky’s Solaris and the Frailty of Perceptual Certainty

My interest in this was piqued while watching Adam Curtis's excellent documentary Bitter lake (available to watch here or here). He used the main narrative motif of Tarkovski's film as a metaphor to explain the impact of the Afghanistan campaign on Soviet Russia in the 1980's. Curtis's thesis was that like the living planet Solaris, the Afghanistan campaign led many Russians to question the certainties of their perceptions of the world as they had understood it for 70 years. What had ...

An assignment idea or discussion topic for learning some key technical concepts and terminology

Ok so you've 'done' shot types, used a powerpoint or projected stills. That's fab for the basics, but what about their implementation in actual films, why these shot selections or camera movement might have been deployed, this isn't at the whim of the DP or director, there is a grammar to how the camera is used with its own vocabulary. YOur students' discussions of films will have greater precision if they learn some of the appropriate term and how they're ...

Seeing Whale Rider in an Asian context

After some years since first I first saw Whale Rider (Niki Caro, New Zealand, 2002) I watched it again recently, and apart from the obvious pleasures of such a well-made and moving film, something struck me which might be extrapolated to reveal something of a pattern of film writing from the same broad geographic region.   It doesn’t take a genius to work out that its central themes are challenges to long-standing traditions in the societies represented and the conflicts between traditions ...