Variations on the holy fool recur throughout the films of Andrei Tarkovsky but the figure of the iurodivyi is perhaps never more pervasive or critical to the task at hand than in his second feature-length film, The Passion According to Andrei. This article examines holy foolishness as an essential aspect of the artistic personality in Tarkovsky’s depiction of Andrei Rublev, Boriska, and Theophanes the Greek. In addition, Tarkovsky’s idiosyncratic narrative style, with its close similarities to Deleuze’s description of the time-image, exhibits similarly oppositional and provocative patterns. As this examination finds, the holy fool may also function as a figure for the overarching narrative as it strives, through various means, to push the viewer from complacent modes of thought and stimulate a more direct, less spatialized perception of time or duration.
Deleuze, Cinema 2, p. 41. The “pure optical situation,” a phrase Deleuze uses, primarily, in reference to the films of Ozu and Italian neorealism, is particularly rife in Tarkovsky’s work. The situations maybe extraordinary or banal in which the character, alongside the viewer, becomes simply contemplative and the narrative lingers on situations or images which are usually outside the links of causality and remain removed or apart from the ongoing action of the story. The situations thus break the traditional sensory motor schema and, theoretically, provide the viewer a direct presentation of time, creating a foundation for the time-image.