Tarkovsky and the Search for the Spirit of the Feminine



BA HONS in Fine Art dissertation in English, unpublished (revised 2009). This thesis was selected for the Media Validation visit in 1988, to represent study undertaken at the Exeter College of Art & Design, School of Arts Research (GB).


The principal characters in Andrey Tarkovsky’s films are men who pursue complex and elusive ideals. Each film shows these men at a point of crisis in their lives. Their inner convictions demand that they act with unquestioning quasi-religious faith. They betray human weakness and hesitate on the brink between noble and cowardly behaviour. Tarkovsky is interested in the journey of their spiritual transformation.

“I found myself having to look at the general state of our civilization… Our age is the final climax of an entire historical cycle… it is the personal responsibility of every individual as participant in the historical process.”1

It is the model or memory of a woman that precipitates a reaction from Tarkovsky’s protagonists, a cathartic incident that resolves a dilemma.

1 P 217, “Sculpting in Time – Reflections on the Cinema”, Andrey Tarkovsky. 1987, The Bodley Head, London ISBN 0-292-77624-1”, Andrey Tarkovsky.