Skip to main content

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Andrei Tarkovsky

Elements of Cinema

The masters of Russian arts and letters are a prestigious fraternity that includes such renowned artists as Tolstoy, Rachmaninoff, and Shostakovich. But alongside these luminaries stands a lesser-known but equally revered figure, filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky. Robert Bird offers in Andrei Tarkovsky an unprecedented investigation of Tarkovsky’s oeuvre and its far-reaching influence on world cinema.

Bird brings a novel approach to his dissection of Tarkovsky’s wholly original techniques and sensibilities, arranging the films into elemental categories of Water, Fire, Earth, and Air. Solaris, Ivan’s Childhood, Mirror, Nostalgia, Andrei Rublev, and Sacrifice all get their due here; through them, Bird explores how the filmmaker probed the elusive correlation between cinematic representation and a more primeval perception of the world. Though the book also considers Tarkovsky’s work in radio, theatre, and opera—as well as his work as an actor, screenwriter, and film theorist—Bird throughout keeps his focus firmly on Tarkovsky as a consummate filmmaker.
Anchored by a wealth of film stills and photographs, Andrei Tarkovsky is a must-read for all film buffs and admirers of European cinema.

256 pages | 100 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 2/5 | © 2008

Film Studies

Reaktion Books image

View all books from Reaktion Books


"A major contribution to the literature on the filmmaker. Bird is thoroughly familiar with Russian sources unavailable to English readers and he has a remarkable sensitivity to the nuances of cinematic construction. His writing is lucid and consistently illuminates Tarkovsky’s central preoccupation: ’the tragic failure of spirituality . . . in conflict with its natural conditions.’"

P. Adams Sitney, professor of visual arts, Princeton University, and author of Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde 1943-2000

"Impeccably erudite. . . . engrossing."

Kevin Maher | The Times

"A dense, devoted appreciation."

J. Hoberman | Bookforum

"Bird’s study can be daunting . . .but he has Tarkovsky right."

Louis Menashe | Cineaste

"In his inspired and rigorous book, Robert Bird addresses the uniqueness of Tarkovksy’s cinema through a detailed exploration of the medium’s constituent parts, revealing in the process the intricate ways in which film can radically shift our vision . . . This profound and eloquent book is a feat of regard, intuition and clarity."–Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema

Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema

Table of Contents

Introduction: Elements of Cinema
earth  1  The System
          2  Space
          3  Screen
fire     4  Word and Image
          5  Story
          6  Imaginary
water  7  Sensorium
           8 Time
           9 Shot
air     10 Atmosphere 
Photo Acknowledgements

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press