Time, Space and Empathy: A Material Poetics of the Film Image

Kristen Kreider

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper looks at a theory and practice of the film image as it figures in the writing and film work of acclaimed Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, with specific reference to the film Nostalghia (1983). In his writing, Tarkovsky identifies what is unique to his concept of the film image through an emphasis on time. This emphasis is evidenced in Tarkovksy’s film work through his signature style of the long take and tracking shot – both a means of, to borrow his words, ‘imprinting time’ onto the frame. Imbued with a sense of time, I argue, the film-image gives rise to a corporeal understanding of place, and this is the basis for appreciating a phenomenology of the film image in relation to place. In light of Luce Irigary’s feminism I then ask: how does sexual difference, as an existential and biological ‘given,’ inform this corporeal understanding of place and, in turn, affect our theorisation of the film image?

Crucially, Tarkovsky predicates his discussion of the film image on the poetic image, thereby suggesting that not only time and filmic syntax, but also the symbolic properties of the poetic image are intrinsic to the complexity of meaning in the film image. This is evidenced by Tarkovsky’s own manipulation of the symbolic properties of word, image, object and gesture in his films. In the second part of this paper, I explore how the symbolic properties of the poetic image combine with the material properties of the film image, and to what effect. In doing so, I address the theme of this conference strand: ‘Why Poetry Matters’.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2010


  • material poetics
  • Tarkovksy
  • kristen kreider
  • kreider
  • film image
  • time
  • space
  • empathy

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