The contrast between art and labor


Andrei Tarkovski, The Steamroller and the Violin (1960)

The project was Tarkovski’s “diploma film,” a requirement for graduation. He wrote the script with fellow student Andrei Konchalovsky over a period of more than six months. As part of the process of earning his degree, Tarkovski had to defend his film during a meeting of the artistic council of the Fourth Creative Unit of Mosfilm on January 6, 1961. The criticisms were varied, according to Bird, but much of it came down to resentment over the portrayal of a socially elite rich boy in contrast to a poor worker. Tarkovski’s response to his critics was captured by a stenographer:

I don’t understand how the idea arose that we see here a rich little violinist and a poor worker. I don’t understand this, and I probably never will be able to in my entire life. If it is based on the fact that everything is rooted in the contrast in the interrelations between the boy and the worker, then the point here is the contrast between art and labor, because these are different things and only at the stage of communism will man find it possible to be spiritually and physically organic. But this is a problem of the future and I will not allow this to be confused. This is what the picture is dedicated to.

Despite the backlash at Mosfilm, the authorities at the VGIK were impressed. Tarkovski graduated with high marks, and over time the film has acquired the respect and appreciation its maker desired.

Attachment to diploma No. N-756038

       G R A D E   T R A N S C R I P T
       -------------------------------

       TARKOVSKI Andrei Arsenevich

       During the course of study at the Department of Film Directing
       at the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography between
       1954 and 1960 has passed the following:

        1. Foundations of Marxism-Leninism ......................... B
        2. Political Economy ....................................... B
        3. Dialectical and Historical Materialism .................. A
        4. Foundations of Marxist-Leninist Aesthetics .............. A
        5. English Language ........................................ A
        6. Physical Education ...................................... (excused)
        7. History of Russian and Soviet Literature ................ A
        8. History of Foreign Literature ........................... A
        9. Fine Arts History ....................................... A
       10. Theory and History of Music ............................. A
       11. History of Soviet Cinema ................................ B
       12. History of Foreign Cinema ............................... A
       13. Camera Skills ........................................... A
       14. Dramaturgy in Film ...................................... A
       15. Sound and Musical Solutions in Film ..................... Pass
       16. Film Actor Skills ....................................... A
       17. Speech Technique ........................................ Pass
       18. Film Directing .......................................... A
       19. Editing ................................................. Pass
       20. Photographic Composition ................................ Pass
       21.

       TARKOVSKI Andrei Arsenyevich fulfilled the industry experience
       requirement with grade A.

       Passed the dialectical and historical materialism state examination
       with grade ......... A

       Defended the diploma work -- short-feature film "The Steamroller
       and the Violin" -- A

             Chancellor, VGIK           /Groshev A.N./

        Dean, Dept. of Directing	/Tavrizyan G.A./

             Dept. Secretary            /Amiton A.N./

       Moscow, 5 May 1961
       Register No. .... 41
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