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Additional resources for Andrei Tarkovsky (Pocket Essential series)
However, it should be noted that although Tarkovsky would later employ off-screen events in films such as Ivan’s Childhood and Solaris, here it is more a case of being faithful to Hemingway’s story, which ends as the film does. In fact, The Killers is Tarkovsky’s most faithful adaptation of a literary work. ) The general mood of bleakness and tension as the characters wait for Andreson to arrive at the café foreshadows in embryonic form Tarkovsky’s mature work, which frequently takes place in a time of crisis or apocalypse.
Water is perhaps the most obvious, appearing in the film in a glass, as a sudden downpour, puddles, a river and a running tap. Mirrors are used three times: the shop window scene and twice at Sasha’s home, where we see his mother reflected in one as she forbids him to go and meet Sergei, and then at the end, when Sasha looks at his own reflection, imagining meeting Sergei. In what is perhaps the most visually Tarkovskian scene, when Sasha plays his violin for Sergei, light reflected in puddles plays on the walls around them, anticipating the use of the same technique in Nostalgia by more than two decades.
In fact, what Le Fanu is describing is ‘a short study’, as Maya Turovskaya describes it,67 called The Concentrate (aka Extract). 69 It is an altogether more ambitious film than The Killers, although, like its predecessor, it bears few discernible Tarkovskian fingerprints. It is important mainly for being Tarkovsky’s first film to use professional actors – principally the male lead, Oleg Borisov – and for being his first opportunity to shoot on a larger scale than The Killers (the evacuation scene being the film’s largest set piece).