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Andrew Alden

Famous (Former) Geologists: Andrei Tarkovsky

By May 6, 2013

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My last few weekends have been an introduction to the remarkable work of the Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-86). He was a cinematic genius with rare gifts of vision, intellect and perseverance, but my ears especially lit up during disk 2 of the "Stalker" set, when his longtime set designer Rashit Safiullin mentioned that Tarkovsky had been a geologist before entering film school. He hinted that Tarkovsky's fieldwork in Siberia had influenced his vision.

I wouldn't make any firm claims about how geology might influence a particular artist. But I can point out that during the 1950s and 1960s, geologists were part of a long tradition in Soviet society as songwriters and poets (pochveniks, poets of the soil). And I can safely say that no scientific field is as visionary and footloose as geology. It is truly a place for wandering wonderers.

Geology poetry
Earth art
How geologists think
Why you should vote for geologists

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