Sculpting in Time by Andrey Tarkovsky is one of the best books I’ve read on art in a long time. This isn’t a terribly long book (250 pages) but it took a very long time to read because in each paragraph—and often each sentence—you will find something to linger over, an observation, aphorism, confession, explanation, whatever, and it will require some time to reflect on just what you’ve read.
If you know Tarkovsky’s films at all (e.g. Stalker, Solaris), you know they are meditative, incredibly shot, lyric, romantic, profound. As a writer he’s very much the same, moving through his work with a very refined style that nonetheless feels very, very taut, as though Tarkovsky has distilled his language down to the most essential words possible.
At the heart of this book is Tarkovsky’s argument about the way time functions in cinema (he sees his work as the filmmaker as “sculpting time”), which in itself is a powerful and provocative way to look at film, but I find it hard to look at Sculpting in Time as a film book per se. You could get equal good out of it if you were a poet, painter, philosopher, essayist, humanist . . . anyone who is sensitive to beautiful things will really feel that this book is intensely powerful.
I was surprised what a true discovery this book is. An obvious must-do for anyone who cares at all about film, but really I hope that everyone who reads this takes the opportunity to experience this incredible meditation on art.