you're just an animal who believes

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"I heart my car" she says as she pumps its hole full of love fluid, but their half-hearted smiles betray the truth. They’re just going through the motions, each silently wondering which will be the first to admit that the spark is gone.

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Andrei Tarkovsky on Film Education: Art Is an Exploration of Ourselves



Only through personal experience we understand life, says Andrei Tarkovsky, and this same statement could be very true about filmmaking: it is through our personal experience with the process that we come to a better understanding of filmmaking. Quentin Tarantino said, I didn’t go to film school. I went to films, while Paul Thomas Anderson claimed, My filmmaking education consisted of finding out what filmmakers I liked were watching, then seeing those films. I learned the technical stuff from books & magazines…Film school is a complete con, because the information is there if you want it. If the search for knowledge is incumbent upon man, one thing is for sure: a filmmaker’s journey is a continuous search in understanding the elements of film. Here, Tarkovsky expresses how he truly came to cinema: by finally understanding in the process of filmmaking the things he learned at school. It was all in the doing

Film education can be found in institutions which often focus on theory and technique, however, much of what the arts demand from artists is an application of the self towards his or her chosen medium, and so art is an exploration of ourselves, and thus, it does not finish with school but continues throughout life. Tarkovsky believes in the importance of this exploration, and when it comes to cinema, he acknowledges that the best experience for the filmmaker is film itself: studying film works and participating in the making of films. Then there is the study of the other arts. As Tarkovsky, Tarantino, and Anderson suggest, film education starts and ends with you.

Get inspired with Andrei Tarkovsky and this excerpt of an interview with the filmmaker.

What do you feel about the training at VGIK?

People have to study, but really if you want to be a director you would do better to take part in the making of one long film. The best course is the Advanced Course in Directing. It is absurd to spend six years studying in the Faculty of Directing, you might as well spend twenty years there, when you take into account the fact that only twenty percent of the total time is allowed for your speciality.

You can’t teach a person the art of cinematography any more than you can teach him to be a poet! The profession as such can be taught in a couple of months. Piano playing has to be taught by someone, whereas writing you can learn only yourself, by reading other people’s writings. And of course you have to be taught how to be an actor, only they are not being taught the right things. They don’t know other languages, they can’t ride. Nor can they fence, swim, or dive, or drive a car or motorcycle. Doubles have to be used for all those things. The actors can’t pronounce their words properly, they are not natural, but on the other hand they pass dozens of exams. What they need to be taught are things like hygiene and diet, and intense physical exercise. But all of that has to be done professionally. VGIK ought to enlist the services of leading cineastes who know how to teach. In my view, film actors should be taught by good film directors. Sergey Gerasimov is right to teach actors and directors together.

At the moment a lot of people straight off the street are being taken on as actors. And quite rightly. They will have parts in films, and they will become real actors, because they know what they want. There are plenty of VGIK graduates who imagine they are fully-fledged actors or directors, when in fact VGIK is merely a place where you can get a good degree; the whole thing only starts after VGIK. When you leave.

The main trouble with VGIK is that the professionals are not interested in it. None of the Studios know anything at all about people at VGIK. It is vital to break down the wall that separates VGIK from actual film production. I think they ought to have a year’s practicum, working on an entire production. A year of specialist study and then a year of practicum, working on a full-length feature. Or maybe the other way around: the practical year first and then the Institute. The point is that VGIK can’t go on being divorced from production. When we first came into the studios in our fourth year, we felt as if we were in some dense forest. The rules there were different, we had to do things we hadn’t been taught to do. On the other hand a studio can’t guarantee work for twenty people.

And then—how should candidates be selected? I only realized what I wanted to do when I was in my fifth year; before that I hadn’t the slightest idea why I had come to VGIK. Only after working under Marlen Khutsiev did I begin to understand that this was something real, and important, and art. Earlier I had been working on screen adaptations, and working with actors, but without knowing any of the whys and wherefores. I wanted to become a director, and I imagined I knew why, but in fact I only really understood why very recently.

First you have to be bitten by cinema, you have to ask yourself if you are going to be able to do something in cinema, and only then should you go on and study. Lots of people who graduate from VGIK have a difficult time. We don’t have a satisfactory selection system, and there is a tremendous amount of wastage. We remain oblivious of all the endless psychological tests that exist to establish what a person is likely to be good at. Surely there must be a way of finding out about somebody’s professional potential? Then, of course, nobody actually knows what it takes to be a film director. That ought to be established. One is told that it is not possible to develop any system of that kind, but the fact is that nobody is giving it any thought. One way would be for a student to be apprenticed to a master, as they were in the old days. Apart from all that, how can anyone live on twenty-eight roubles a month? The students are quite simply unfit for work; it’s hardly surprising that no one will take them on. Engineers are needed all over the place, but directors are pretty well redundant. A director only becomes necessary when he has proved that he can do things better than other people. Then he’ll be an artist. All the rest are doomed to eke out an existence of the periphery of art, on the periphery of cinema. Once a person has been studying one thing for a year or two he hasn’t the courage to give it up and start doing something else.

There ought to be quite a different form of training. They ought to see more films. The whole “new wave” was a result of film critics sitting in cinemas and watching huge quantities of films, after all! It’s important to see the work of the great masters, and know it well, in order not to start reinventing the wheel. There aren’t very many of them, perhaps only five; Dovzhenko, Buñuel, Bergman, Antonioni, Dreyer, and one or two others.

And then there’s no time at VGIK to read. All you have time for is getting through the reading for the seminars. You don’t read beyond certain works, or even just extracts, on specific themes. That’s very bad. A person can only really assimilate what he reads when it has time to become part of him. If they were to read more at the institute, and watch more films, they wouldn’t then start inventing things that have been invented long ago.

(emphasis mine)

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If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also
Matt 5:39

This specifically refers to a hand striking the side of a person’s face, tells quite a different story when placed in it’s proper historical context. In Jesus’s time, striking someone of a lower class ( a servant) with the back of the hand was used to assert authority and dominance. If the persecuted person “turned the other cheek,” the discipliner was faced with a dilemma. The left hand was used for unclean purposes, so a back-hand strike on the opposite cheek would not be performed. Another alternative would be a slap with the open hand as a challenge or to punch the person, but this was seen as a statement of equality. Thus, by turning the other cheek the persecuted was in effect putting an end to the behavior or if the slapping continued the person would lawfully be deemed equal and have to be released as a servant/slave.   

(via thefullnessofthefaith)

THAT makes a lot more sense, now, thank you. 

(via guardianrock)

I can attest to the original poster’s comments. A few years back I took an intensive seminar on faith-based progressive activism, and we spent an entire unit discussing how many of Jesus’ instructions and stories were performative protests designed to shed light on and ridicule the oppressions of that time period as a way to emphasize the absurdity of the social hierarchy and give people the will and motivation to make changes for a more free and equal society.

For example, the next verse (Matthew 5:40) states “And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” In that time period, men traditionally wore a shirt and a coat-like garment as their daily wear. To sue someone for their shirt was to put them in their place - suing was generally only performed to take care of outstanding debts, and to be sued for one’s shirt meant that the person was so destitute the only valuable thing they could repay with was their own clothing. However, many cultures at that time (including Hebrew peoples) had prohibitions bordering on taboo against public nudity, so for a sued man to surrender both his shirt and his coat was to turn the system on its head and symbolically state, in a very public forum, that “I have no money with which to repay this person, but they are so insistent on taking advantage of my poverty that I am leaving this hearing buck-ass naked. His greed is the cause of a shameful public spectacle.”

All of a sudden an action of power (suing someone for their shirt) becomes a powerful symbol of subversion and mockery, as the suing patron either accepts the coat (and therefore full responsibility as the cause of the other man’s shameful display) or desperately chases the protester around trying to return his clothes to him, making a fool of himself in front of his peers and the entire gathered community.

Additionally, the next verse (Matthew 5:41; “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”) was a big middle finger to the Romans who had taken over Judea and were not seen as legitimate authority by the majority of the population there. Roman law stated that a centurion on the march could require a Jew (and possibly other civilians as well, although I don’t remember explicitly) to carry his pack at any time and for any reason for one mile along the road (and because of the importance of the Roman highway system in maintaining rule over the expansive empire, the roads tended to be very well ordered and marked), however hecould not require any service beyond the next mile marker. For a Jewish civilian to carry a centurion’s pack for an entire second mile was a way to subvert the authority of the occupying forces. If the civilian wouldn’t give the pack back at the end of the first mile, the centurion would either have to forcibly take it back or report the civilian to his commanding officer (both of which would result in discipline being taken against the soldier for breaking Roman law) or wait until the civilian volunteered to return the pack, giving the Judean native implicit power over the occupying Roman and completely subverting the power structure of the Empire. Can you imagine how demoralizing that must have been for the highly ordered Roman armies that patrolled the region?

Jesus was a pacifist, but his teachings were in no way passive. There’s a reason he was practically considered a terrorist by the reigning powers, and it wasn’t because he healed the sick and fed the hungry.

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