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by ANNA A. GANSHINA, St.-Petersburg

            To tell the truth, thinking about what to say on the topic of time in the documentary cinema, I have a feeling that it’s a chaotic discussion. Therefore what I’m going to say is simply some observations and, so to speak, also chaos because when I think about it I can’t come up with any conception. So I’ll speak in Rozanov’s style - #1, ... That is, I’ll try to look for logic simply speaking.

            Cinema technology uses time and space. What amazes me is that three-dimensional space and time are transformed into two-dimensional. Two-dimensional...and time. It’s very strange. That’s it. I will not comment on that.

            Now. If you take a closer look, there are four times in the documentary (in any kind of cinema - I don’t know about the fiction). They are the author’s time, that is the time of the one who shoots; the character’s time; the spectator’s time; and the sound’s time. I will explain why the sound’s time: the one who makes montage always knows that picture may be decelerated or accelerated because it has its rhythm, and sound has its rhythm, too.

            When we talk about the time of the one who shoots... That is, all the manipulations in the documentary cinema consist of manipulations with these four times. For example, as an author, I suggest the following story: here happens some brief event. Let us assume that someone lights a cigarette. If it is being filmed by one camera, on one cassette - it is happening in real physical time. But if I start shooting with two cameras, time becomes twice longer. And I can make this event two times longer. If there are three, four, five, ten, one hundred cameras - then out of one tiny event I can make simply... simply an epic picture. I can do that. Cinema lets you do with time anything you want.

            What also amazes me in the documentary cinema and time manipulation is that when I watch a film I think that it was made by one cameraman with one camera. But when I see that they certainly used montage there in the sense that a man turns over a corner saying one phrase and he is caught by the camera the very next moment and he is saying the same phrase, finishing it, I understand that is was done two times.  It is not documentary. The spectator doesn’t notice this, but a man who understands does.

            We said that there’s physical and psychological time. Last time I said that we exist on the border of physical and psychological reality, we are marginal. And each one of us, according to his psycho type, can go to the objective reality, where you don’t feel your psychological time, or to the psychological reality. Like we said, time depends on emotions. When Matizen drew those wonderful charts - here they are - it only means that time depends on the psychological concentration of event.

            Let’s take, for instance, this phrase: «He got younger with happiness.» It means that the interior time of the man went slower than the exterior. The exterior time flew very fast, but he was happy and got younger. What does it mean? There’s also the phrase: «He turned gray and old with grief.» That is one year meant three for him, that  the interior time flew faster than the exterior. I mean, if he was getting younger, psychologically he lived slower than he would according to the laws of the objective time, and if he was getting old, his physical time flew faster. Phrases don’t come up by chance. And then one can think that in Paradise... I mean, we all would like to be young, right? To be young and live today, and always, and well. It means that time disappears in paradise. But it’s the interior time that disappears, my time. When I say «I don’t know for how long I’ve been so happy that I don’t remember how much time has passed», I mean that I’ve been so happy, felt so good, that I don’t know what was is - a minute, an hour... A moment of my happiness, my ecstasy can not be measured in time. When I say that I felt so bad, time went infinitely slow, my pain was infinite. If I’m in pain - for a minute, or I feel good, it lasts forever, if I feel bad - it also lasts forever. It turns out that moving towards paradise the interior time accelerates and disappears, and towards hell it decelerates and stops.

            I got an idea. We can shoot rapidly, right? This technology allows us to manipulate this time. When you shoot rapidly the author’s time accelerates and the exterior time decelerates. It is a paradoxical system. If we go further, an  infinitely rapid shooting (i.e. an infinitely rapid deceleration) turns out to be a still where time doesn't flow. When using the device of «zeitraffer», the author’s time, so to speak, splits, and the exterior time accelerates. If we develop this idea, if I switch the camera on quickly, with maximum intervals, we get a still where everything happens. We can imagine a «zeitraffer» where all the story happens simultaneously. It is impossible to make it, but we can imagine it. The cinema technology gives us the opportunity to accelerate or decelerate time. Not to the extreme extent, but it lets us dream of it. I mean, we saw the film about the stone, how it plays with time and space. Unfortunately, this film seemed to be a story advertising the capability of the camera. There wasn’t any grief over  possible margins. Imagine an infinitely decelerated motion - that is an infinitely rapid camera. That is a man cannot make a gesture. He makes it, and makes it... Imagine that he suffers. Then he suffers for an infinitely long time.

            I want to say that if you think carefully what cinema is capable of  technologically, I mean that our look there can decelerate and accelerate, we can understand... All right.

            We also spoke previously about physical and psychological time. We never coincide with  physical time. May be we feel better this way, but all stories say that we have to exist in the real present. And we say that there’s some other, physical time, abstract from us - it’s dipping like water. Some metronome. And our emotions are shown faster or slower. And if you imagine... One thought interests me - if there’s the possibility of adjusting myself so that my physical time and my psychological time flow simultaneously. But if so, then I have to live like a metronome. Then my peace will depend on... Not depend, the meaning of peace to me is when your psychological and physical time flow together, simultaneously. And it will be all right. You will just feel peace, because if it flows slower, it’s bad, if faster... I.e. the whole point of peace is in corresponding of physical time to psychological. May be.

            What else to say. Another interesting question for me is that the documentary cinema always depicts the past and the present. The most interesting is the future. From the one side, we provoke it, build it up, intervene in it... And we are planning to make a film which is called «Conversation about the future». We always say: «I shall be», «I shall do», «I shall leave», «I shall come». It is very interesting to shoot the moment when the present becomes the future. Andrey shot a reconstruction of the past events. It’s hard but possible. To shoot a presentiment, a prediction of the future - this is again about time in the cinema -  very interesting. It’s simply next to impossible. So when Victor Kosakovsky speaks of the camera’s sensitivity, that is the moment you switch on your camera a road accident happens - this is called filming of the future. And it seems to me that this heightened observation, when I know what I observe, when I am emotionally tuned to it, it helps to have presentiments about the future.

            I’ll tell you two stories. One story is about a boy who fell from a balloon. Some inner feeling stopped us, simply a presentiment. And another story, very interesting. Imagine that I lie on the bank of a pond, in a park. Kids bathe in the pond. And I think: here they are bathing, but that one will be drowning, and I’ll have to go there and drag him out. And the water there is simply terrible. Then I forget about it, and in about an hour I suddenly see that this boy is drowning. I can’t believe it at first, at watch it for some time... And then I realize that he’s gone. And since I’ve already thought it over, I jump there in clothes and in boots and drag him out. He’s already at the bottom. I drag him out, his lungs haven’t even filled with water, I scream at him. He says: «I can’t swim, and I’m very cold.» And then I think the situation over... Was my thought provoked or was it a presentiment?

            So, a man that holds a camera must shoot this sort of events. The feeling of time must be inside you. And when Victor Kosakovsky says that he’s afraid, I understand him.

            I guess, that’s all.

            And yes! I was going to speak a bit on the spectator’s time, that it is also very interesting because I can influence the spectator. We can prepare the atmosphere of viewing, it’s possible. We can do it one or two days before - to arrange a special room, to do some other preparations. We start playing with spectators, pretending that we are all by chance here, not only that screen picture. I mean, I film something, someone watches it... You say «Hi!» - they say «Hi!». The very act of viewing can be turned into such game. What especially interesting about it is that I can build everything up, and, like was said, you just close your eyes on it and that’s all. I mean one move is enough - to close your eyes - and there is nothing. And therefore the most terrible thing that spectators can do for an author is to close their eyes. All your thoughts, labors, whatever - all in vain. They just got bored, pondered over something else, went out - and they missed it.           

            Also, we can say that a film-director, just like a writer, has his own dominant, something prevalent. For example, Gogol loved things. When he writes, he very scrupulously describes things, food, something else. Proust described moments. Every film-director has his own inner, in fact, chemical feeling of time. All the films that we watch are models of time. This time is chemical. Each film-director pays attention to his own details. I like the film «Wednesday» very much, and in the sense of time only one thing disturbs me - its title «Wednesday», and the exact date, it happens one certain day. But I realize that the shootings for it lasted for a long time. If that film was made in one day (and I don’t know how it is possible to film 70 people in one day), then it would be a real day. Then it would be... dances with time. Not with sense.

            I can go on like this forever. That’s all. Thank you.


            Question: Can you speak of one integral time, to connect those times, or they are broken up? And how do you regard the synthesis of the spectator’s time? 

            Answer: Our main task is in... we never think about how to combine all four times. I mean I play with a character, I, naturally, use his time for my own purposes. In fact, nobody thinks that the spectator’s time can also be used. What do I do when I make a film? I’m trying to preserve my emotion, my consciousness so as to get some preserved thing that will always work. Because - I said that on the last festival - when we shoot, we experience something. When I am asked what am I, I reply that I’m an instrument of the world’s reflection. And my emotion is only an indicator of the environment’s tensity. My own emotions don’t really interest me, I want to know how all this happens in general. That is to go out of... We are limited by our body, and it is boring.