I watched Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker the other night and afterward I decided to do a little research.
According to Wikipedia, “The film contains not more than 142 shots in 163 minutes with an average shot length of almost one minute and many shots lasting for more than four minutes.”
I don’t know how accurate that is, but it’s close enough for you to get the idea. Some might say Stalker is boring and slow. I’d say it’s demanding and meditative.
“Officials at Goskino [kind of the Soviet cinema police] were critical of the film, on being told that the film should be faster and more dynamic, Tarkovksy replied: ‘the film needs to be slower and duller at the start so that the viewers who walked into the wrong theatre have time to leave before the main action starts.’
“The Goskino representative then explained that he was trying to give the point of view of the audience. Tarkovsky supposedly retorted: ‘I am only interested in the views of two people: one is called Bresson and one called Bergman.’”
This made me wonder: Who am I making A Life’s Work for?
The more I reflected on this very big question (and just to be clear, this is a different question than why am I making A Life’s Work), the more answers I came up with. This film was born from grief, so in a certain way I’m making it for the people I’m grieving. It is to honor them, it is an offering to them.
But honoring and offering is as much an act for the living as for the dead, and so clearly I’m making this film for me. Asking Tarter, Darden, Soleri, and the Milarchs, “What’s it all about?” is a way for me to process the deaths of the people dear to me.
I’m also making it for you. Yeah, you. I want A Life’s Work to be seen somewhere other than my living room and by someone other than me. I want you to see it and be moved by it. I want you to enjoy it and carry it with you for a while. I’m trying to impress you, to woo you.
So “you,” are you part of a demographic that I’m targeting? Not really. But I’m aware that the film is, as the saying goes, for anyone, but not for everyone. I think people who enjoy documentaries will enjoy A Life’s Work. I think people interested in the environment, gospel music, space, or architecture will find something in this film to like.
And finally, if I can mimic Tarkovsky, I am interested in the views of Herzog, Morris, and Maysles.
So, the things you do, who do you do them for?