On the 26th of January, in 1973, the Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky wrote in his diary:
"There are two kinds of dreams. In the first, the dreamer can direct the events of the dream as if by magic. He is master of everything that happens or is going to happen. He is a demiurge. In the second, the dreamer has no say, he is passive, he suffers from the violence done him and from his inability to protect himself. What happens to him is exactly what he doesn't want, all that is most horrible and painful. (As in Kafka's prose.)" (Tarkovsky, Time Within Time 66)
The film director goes on to cite a letter written by Rainer Maria Rilke to his wife about the French painter, Paul Cezanne:
"'A painter's moments of illumination must not come to him through his consciousness (any more than do those of any other artist). His discoveries, mysterious even to him, must bypass the long road of deliberation and go so fast into his work that he has no time to notice the transition. If he lies in wait for them, observes them, holds them back, they will turn to dust like the gold in the fairy-tale.' Rilke, Letters to His Wife (about Cezanne), 21 October 1901."
(Tarkovsky, Time Within Time 66)
Tarkovsky says that the medium of cinema is time and therefore, filmmaking is the equivalent of "sculpting in time". His films offer an opportunity to explore philosophies of time through art.
This thesis is designed to collapse the boundaries we might place between philosophy and film in order to better understand the ways that one can watch and think cinema. We will begin with phenomenology and film which will lead us to the limits of phenomenology when talking about the consciousness of time. I will then introduce an alternative to phenomenology: the philosophy of Henri Bergson which was utilized by Gilles Deleuze in developing his own philosophy of cinema. However, Deleuze's analysis of cinema does not appear sufficient in discussing the spirituality of cinema, which is an essential element of Tarkovsky's cinema. Although the phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty will provide us with an understanding of the way in which an artist accumulates experience, and the philosophy of Deleuze will give us an account of the crystallization of time which takes place in a cinematic work, Tarkovsky's films will ultimately expand the idea of time altogether through their spirituality.
Because Tarkovsky's works are the focus of this thesis, I want to contextualize them in the Russian and Soviet tradition in which they were produced in order to understand the unique spiritual nature of his works and the implications that such creative works hold for a philosophy of time in our world today. The Russian artistic and intellectual traditions that Tarkovsky drew deeply from were centered on questions of ethics and aesthetics. One of his great sources of inspiration was the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky, a novelist know for his tendency to foreground existential and moral questions in all of his great works while incorporating a modern anxiety about the power of aesthetics and their influence over ethics. This thesis will conclude by arguing that the art form of cinema is particularly well-equipped to explore the relationship between ethics and aesthetics precisely due to its ability to show us time.