Fear and Freedom - On selected excerpts from films by Hitchcock and Tarkovsky

Root Event

Werkleitz Festival 2010 Angst hat große Augen
Fear and Freedom - On selected excerpts from films by Hitchcock and Tarkovsky

Being human is generally formulated as the state of being mortal and compelled to deal with a variety of dangers. Anxiety and fear are insofar fundamental to survival, impulses that provoke quick and correct responses that guarantee survival. Adequate appraisal of a situation is a crucial factor, as fear and anxiety are always situational. They thus have something in common, even though there are grounds to distinguish between them. While anxiety occurs in connection with a danger that one is unable to define exactly – which is to say, as a reaction to something unknown – fear is provoked by something specific, something for which one can prepare oneself and which one can confront. Anxiety, also at a subconscious level, can affect the way we act. Moreover, an alarming confrontation can provoke profound existential shock and subsequent crisis.1

While in psychology and psychiatry symptoms of anxiety2 are taken to be a sign of the loss of a basis in life and may underpin a diagnosis of mental illness, modern existentialist philosophy understands anxiety to be the intrinsic affectivity of human existence. So embedded is it in human existence that it becomes an experience encompassing the environment and situations, one that marks a person’s relationship to the world. Anxiety is a feeling that arises in interaction with perceptions, imaginings, experiences and decision-making processes, and is simultaneously much more than a feeling. As anxiety also always renders perceptible objective facts pertaining to the universal conditions of life and to concrete situations, it possesses a power that supersedes subjective feelings, the power to deepen insight.

If one takes into account this cognitive power of anxiety, by which various cultural and historical dangers are rendered manifest in their respective epochs3, the popular diagnosis of paranoia as “the twenty-first century fear”4 appears to apply not so much to an increasingly common individual pathology but rather, much more revealingly, to an entire era; and it serves thereby to pinpoint the fact that anxiety is an integral component of various hegemonic strategies.

In this context, the question as to the relationship between fear and freedom inevitably raises its head. Although initially, a strong suspicion makes itself felt that fear, insofar as it drives us to avoid risks, restricts freedom, the relationship is somewhat more complex. Another perspective on this question can be extrapolated from observations on fear made by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, which are inseparably interwoven with his notion of freedom. Fear implies a potential for freedom precisely owing to its indeterminate nature, Kierkegaard asserts, and he expounds on this further in one of his early studies on the topic, The Concept of Anxiety, from 1844:

“One rarely finds a treatment of the concept of anxiety in psychology and I am thus obliged to point out that it is entirely different from fear and similar notions, which refer to something specific, whereas anxiety is the actuality of freedom as the possibility of possibility”.5

The close link between the concept anxiety and potential also for human self-determination and development can only be understood in terms of a productive transformation to which Kierkegaard believed anxiety held the key. The effect of anxiety is frequently such, that a subject no longer recognizes himself, and feels alienated from himself. Yet such an experience, although often held to be negative, implies in a dialectical sense something positive. It can turn into “the dizziness of freedom”,6 which opens up a broad intuitive spectrum regarding a myriad of possibilities.

Situations of anxiety in film

As anticipation and evaluation are fundamental to weighing up a situation and hence, imaginings and appraisals of “what might happen next” irrevocably interwoven with anxiety, the atmospheric build-up of anxiety7 in film commonly rests on a game of make-believe with invisible, unpredictable and disorientating phenomena – a game used to masterly effect in sci-fi films such as Alien (dir. Ridley Scott, USA/UK 1979), horror films such as The Shining (dir. Stanley Kubrick, UK 1980) and psychological thrillers such as The Silence of the Lambs (dir. Jonathan Demme, USA 1991). These few examples alone illustrate that the theme of “anxiety” is not bound to one genre, indeed it can be found also in war films, romantic films or the more recent flood of action films. Desire for anxiety has become a lifestyle indicator. The cinematic context provides countless opportunities to combine a desire for anxiety with regression. The spectrum of aspects and films that might be taken into account is accordingly broad. I therefore propose to limit the field of inquiry, by pursuing in the following a single thematic aspect, namely the relationship of fear and freedom, in the light of two films by very different directors, who are rarely approached from one and the same angle: Alfred Hitchcock and Andrei Tarkovsky. This combination per se as well as the new insights that can be gained by revisiting Hitchcock’s famous film The Birds (USA 1963), and by taking a fresh approach to one of the most mysterious films in cinema history, Tarkovsky’s Stalker (USSR 1978–79) eminently justify this selection. Both films understand, in very different ways, how to render palpable a transformative trajectory that is driven by anxiety.

Longing and anxiety

The “case history” of Norman Bates may be Hitchcock’s most drastic variation on psychological powers of destruction yet the same psychic structure occurs as a recurrent motive in his films. Scottie Ferguson in Vertigo (USA 1958)8 and Mitch Brenner in The Birds are further male protagonists who are hindered by a maternal superego from pursuing their desires and longings.9 Søren Kierkegaard succinctly formulated the connection between longings and anxiety:

“One often fails to see that expressions and concepts such as longing, eager longing, expectation, etc. imply a preceding state, and that this state is present and makes itself felt at the same time that longing is developing. A person is not in this state of expectation by accident etc., so that he finds himself a total stranger to it, but he himself is at the same time producing it. The expression for such a longing is anxiety, for the state in which he longs to be proclaims itself anxiety, and it proclaims itself because the longing alone is not sufficient to save him.”10

The Birds: Anxiety as a rite of passage

One such watchful, hopeful type, in Hitchcock’s The Birds, is the lawyer Mitch Brenner, who meets the rich, carefree and blasé Melanie Daniels in a pet shop. Aggressiveness and mutual provocation characterise their encounter. Melanie slips into the role of the momentarily absent shop assistant, and shows various species of bird to Mitch, who is looking for a pair of lovebirds as a gift for his sister. Although the lawyer has seen Melanie Daniels previously in the courtroom – for she repeatedly indulges in risqué behaviour – he goes along with her game. Insofar the two of them are engaged from the outset in a conscious and unconscious game of hide and seek. During this supposed sales talk, a bird escapes from a cage and Mitch deftly captures it, a sovereign action that impresses Melanie. If one considers this mostly overlooked expository scene, the birds, which in the research are primarily considered as symbolic harbingers ofdeath, appear to be constitutive also of Melanie and Mitchs’ love affair; an affair that becomes feasible however, only after the two of them have lived through existential fear. Fear, which has always been an element of the socialisation process, turns out in this film to be constructive. But first let us return to the plot.

As the pet shop hasn’t the desired birds in stock, Mitch leaves the store without a gift. Melanie purchases the birds a short time later and drives off in pursuit of the lawyer, who is spending the weekend at an idyllic coastal resort, Bodega Bay, in the company of his sister and his jealous, dominating mother. In this encounter at Bodega Bay, it is a bird once again which makes it impossible for Melanie to maintain her blasé expression; as Mitch approaches and she dons her mask of casual interest, a seagull dives down and injures her head. The shock strips her of her usual arrogance and makes her needy such that, when Mitch touches her for the first time, it is a permissible and welcome relief. In the course of the film attacks by birds become more frequent: by solo birds at first, then whole flocks of them.

When the viewer begins, like Melanie, to keep a watchful, fearful eye on an approaching bird, he becomes aware likewise of the cinematic eye: dolly shots tracing the subjective gaze alternate with supposedly objective shots of people, things and details about which there is something uncanny, in the Freudian sense of the term. The “uncanny”, as defined by Sigmund Freud, is something deeply unsettling, which resides in familiar and trusted things that suddenly appear alien and strange, that allow their hidden and secret facets to step forth, thereby creating eerie effects.11 It is in this sense that the “covert yet cosy” realm of Mitch’s mother’s residence at Bodega Bay is transformed by an invasion of birds into something uncanny.12

The mounting horror as people are severely injured or killed by the blows of beaks culminates in a massive attack by the birds on the Brenner household. (Fig.1) With regard to the relationship of fear and freedom it is not relevant however, to describe the horrifying, even apocalyptic scenes,13 which have often been discussed already. It is important to note that otherwise, quite peaceful creatures here become a menace, thereby making abundantly and horrifyingly clear how large a population of these creatures there is on earth; creatures that, given humans’ way of treating nature, might be expected to show fear themselves.14 Also significant is the fact that Hitchcock often added the bird scenes – like cartoons – to earlier takes. In the famous scene that shows the birds’ advance on Bodega Bay from a bird’s-eye perspective, it is clear that the birds arrive from the cinematic void behind the camera, from beyond the cinematic space. Here, the transcendental breaks into the immanent dimension.15 In particular a neglected aspect must be considered, namely that Mitch, catalysed by this situation of profound anxiety, finds the energy to fight off all the attacks, although some birds even enter the house through the chimney. He, who is not “the master in his own home” (Freud), progresses for the first time to being the master in his mother’s home. The fearful situation makes a transformative trajectory possible.

As Melanie in the meantime moves in a quite irrational manner from a secured to a non-secured room of the house, she is almost beaten to death by the birds. Her nervous breakdown in the wake of the attack makes her vulnerable such that the mother’s maternal instincts are roused. Thanks also to her personal experience of death anxiety – which Hitchcock succinctly evokes with an image of a cry stifled in a constricted throat, somewhat reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s lithograph “The Scream” (1895)16 – Mitch’s mother finds it possible after Melanie’s nervous breakdown to put her arms around the hitherto envied and rejected new friend of her son. The mysterious end of the film, which shows Mitch at the wheel, carefully and slowly driving his mother, sister and new partner across a landscape blackened by thousands of attentive birds, harbingers of an uncertain future (Fig.2), goes hand in hand with liberation from the confines of a nuclear family melodrama.

According to Martin Heidegger who, like Jean Paul Sartre, took up Kierkegaard’s observations, anxiety always comprises elements related to the past as well as to the future. While, in Hitchcock’s film Psycho (USA 1960),17 the repercussions and gravity of elements relating to the past predominate such as to prevent Norman Bates’ free use of anxiety’s potential, Hitchcock created in Mitch a different figure yet refrained from making light of the situation by adding a “happy end”. Given the flocks of birds surrounding Mitch in the final scene, his potential to reach his own decisions reveals itself to be the“impassioned freedom unto death” (Heidegger). Yet, for Kierkegaard and Heidegger alike, to understand death means to understand oneself.

Stalker: Fear and self-awareness

The Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky concurred with Kierkegaard’s criticism of predominant rationalism. Man is not only a “rational animal” but also always endeavours to transcend reason and logic by means of faith. It is in this sense that Kierkegaard considered “overcoming reality by means of faith” to be the primary task of a human being.18 In order to be able to do so however, he must undergo an apprenticeship in fear. Tarkovsky devotes himself to precisely this task in his film Stalker,19 which ranks along with Solaris (USSR 1971–72) and The Sacrifice (USSR 1985–86) among Tarkovsky’s radical critiques of civilisation and rationalism.20 Already in Solaris, the plot turns around a chilling voyage to an unknown sphere that cannot be apprehended by reason and, like a kind of “inner exile” in the Freudian sense, may be understood as representing the unknown aspects of one’s own self. In Stalker this sphere is called “The Zone” and characterised as a place saturated equally by fear and hope. It stands for a catastrophe that has already occurred. Word has it that a meteorite has extinguished every living being in the zone and a troop sent to investigate it never returned. As an area rife with inexplicable events and hence fearfulness, the zone is designated off limits and heavily guarded by military police. This serves quasi, to illuminate a significant link: resistance to fear and security measures are irrevocably intertwined. In particular the security provisions that affect individuals, societies and cultures speak volumes; and they take various forms, depending on their respective historical or cultural context. As rumour also has it that there exists in the zone The Room, which can fulfil a man’s deepest wish, people are repeatedly drawn to enter the zone, despite this being forbidden. According to Kierkegaard, transgressing a prohibitive injunction is bound up with the fear of possibility, which in turn is bound up with the possibility of freedom.21 The film’s structural framework insofar marks a direct thematic reference.

The protagonist of the film, Stalker, has resolved to take on the task of leading people into and out of the zone. This main character, whose name is also the film title, is initially constituted by means of his wife’s remarks, such that he is “God’s fool” and “a permanent convict”. The fact that he intends once again to enter the zone and thus risk further punishment, regardless of his commitments to his wife and child, provokes little sympathy on her part. His answer however, is very revealing. He is in prison everywhere, he tells her. That this remark in the film Stalker expresses an underlying emotion, not only of an individual but of a collective, is made clear by the poetically sensualized opening sequence, in which the camera’s gaze slips though a door into a bedroom and comes to rest on a still life. On a small table, on which lie tablets, a syringe, a crumpled leaf of paper and a water glass, the water glass suddenly moves.22 The camera also moves, gliding in a pan shot across the mother, the child and, finally, the father, Stalker, who are asleep together in bed, then back to the still life. If one reads this as an expository scene, the moving water glass can be seen as magically reanimating the “nature morte. This reanimation can also be explained more prosaically. It may have been the vibrations of a train that caused it, which are rendered clearly audible and accompany the image pursued by the panning camera, yet thereby metamorphose: the acoustic icon is transformed into an abstract noise-music,23 in whose electro-acoustic alienation a piece of music, the “Marseillaise” can finally be detected. Barely imperceptibly does a snatch of this French liberation song and national anthem become audible, the part with the lyrics “Against us about the tyranny/ The bloody banner is raised”. The atmosphere of this scene, shot in black and white, which already conjures human existence as a finite subsistence between the poles of fear and freedom, is characterized by traces of time and the deterioration wrought by a life lived, which the flaking wall of a room, through the material aesthetic of the object language, personifies in a different way than does the slowness of the camera, which imbues the scene with a palpable sense of the passage of time and allows the viewer time for precise perception. Tarkovsky relies on the use of black and white for the scenes that structure the framework of the film, outside the zone. While white renders the surrounding colours cold, black robs them of light.24 The visual impact is thus rendered more graphic by stark contrasts, but also more dream-like.25

The further course of the film depicts the route into and out of the zone, on which Stalker embarks in the company of a cynical writer who hates writing, and a professor who considers himself, to be ruled by reason alone. Fear of the military police who guard the terrain – which is reminiscent of an abandoned industrial area – remains relatively limited. Yet in this area, in which the famous Chernobyl reactor can also be recognised, fear of the invisible is pivotal, and imbues the already regenerated nature in the zone with a complex ambivalence. The connection between rationalism and guilt, a “dialectic of enlightenment” (Adorno), is proffered for contemplation, not least because Tarkovsky has a special relationship with nature, which in the largely, colourful zone becomes a co-player in the film.

A railroad trolley ride leads, like a “rite of passage”, from the black and white scene to the colourful landscape, from the hegemonic realm of rationalism into a sphere of incomprehensibility and unpredictability. The zone is unpredictable precisely because, in interaction with the human mind, it constantly changes. The logic of reason does not rule here. “In the zone the shortest way is not the most direct”, Stalker emphasises, as he endeavours to attain via a long and circuitous route that which seems within his grasp; and he informs his companions that here, there is no such thing as straight ahead, and nor can one ever turn back. The justifiable question “And how will we return?” is answered with “This is not a place one can leave”. What Stalker means by that, he does not say.

In the zone one is quasi in the realm of the mind, which Kierkegaard believes is inseparably connected to fear. For Kierkegaard, man is a synthesis of body and soul that can be facilitated only by the mind. Yet the mind relates to itself and to its condition in the form of fear, because a lack of knowledge that is equivalent to a void is determined by the mind.26 It is this lack of knowledge that catapulted all three men, in different ways, into existential crisis, and left them so distraught as to seek the route into the zone.

Stalker’s advice and special practice of throwing metal nuts attached to strips of cloth into the allegedly mined landscape (in order to mark the path, which changes permanently) give rise to an unusual climate of fear that rests entirely on the invisible realm and the powers of the imagination.

As the zone is a complex system that arbitrarily and depending on the condition of the protagonists allows traps to emerge then disappear, the system of regulations is paradoxical: orders must be obeyed yet can also be transgressed. From time to time the writer musters courage enough, at least momentarily, to take an unsafe path, and the professor also manages to return and fetch his forgotten rucksack, without coming to any harm. The only thing on which one can rely in this forsaken place is that everything changes, including one’s appraisal of a situation and the attendant anticipation of danger. First of all it is imperative that the scientist and writer establish a different relationship to nature, nature of which both Tarkovsky’s camera and his protagonist Stalker remain very mindful. The latter suddenly lies down in an embryonic posture in a puddle, like the dog that suddenly pops up at his side (Fig.3), and places his ear to the ground, to listen for danger. What is audible frequently precedes that which can be seen. “The organ of fear”27 – an ear – “(…) in a certain sense stands guard at the border, beyond which the eye can no longer see”.28

The cinematic gaze shows in ever, different ways that man here no longer has a privileged role. He is a part of nature, within nature, and placed at times on the margins or somewhere in nature, in which he appears to vanish (Fig.3). At the same time, over the shoulder shots serve repeatedly to open up a different perspective on nature and culture alike. The camera travels thereby close to the earth, shrubs and roots, or to remnants of culture and the ruins of civilisation. Icons, revolvers and syringes, seen underwater like apparitions of bygone times, illustrate in their way traces of finitude and transformation, bring distant realms tangibly near, and demonstrate clearly that Tarkovsky’s artistic work is a work of remembrance, in the sense both of trauma recall and processing and of the elaboration of cultural memory.

Nature is recurrently also a stage, on which transcendence reveals itself to be intrinsic to life. Thus the bubbling sound of rushing water changes to a whisper of warning, puddles, rain, mist and the play of lights change to media of transparency through which another reality may shine through in magic places. Magical places and spaces of fear interchange or merge. A poetology of decay, an aesthetic of ruins connects all places of fear, which correspond each to a different fear, to claustrophobia, vertigo, fear of sinking or fear of the dark, etc. Particular place of fear are highlighted by telling names such as “meat grinder” or “sand space” (Figs. 4 & 5).

The pipe that Stalker calls the “meat grinder” is so dark at times that “seeing concrete bodies”, which is so fundamental to the “objectification and availability of what is encountered”,29 is impossible. The viewer is required to use his imaginative powers all the more keenly and is drawn into the atmosphere. The possibility of being at a place of terror is conveyed by an eerily bright darkness created from light and shadow effects. What becomes audible with every disoriented step is reminiscent at moments of splintered glass, at others of the crunch of cracking bones. But just as, in a situation in which one can see nothing an apparition often appears and wholly transfixes cognitive consciousness, here too, the frightening situation determines a shift in perception and consciousness.

Although, in the end, the three men actually do find themselves at the threshold to the longed for, wish-fulfilling Room, not one of them dares to cross it and be confronted, warts and all, with his own self. Stalker has previously spoken of this confrontation in reference to his teacher, who entered the room allegedly with the intention of saving his sick brother yet found himself shortly afterwards blessed with a great fortune. His true wish had been fulfilled; his self-deception could no longer be maintained. And, having been bereft thus of his idealized self-image, he decided to kill himself.

The period in the zone, during which the three men had to suffer the uncertainty of an existence forged by human hand, provokes the transformation of each of them. The zone challenges their special view of life and their respective arrogance. The prototype of a cynical individualist, a “free” independent writer, now understands that he did not create his supposed individuality himself. It is patently clear that he is a creature born of that with which he has complied. Likewise the writer tersely expresses uncertainty about himself and his wishes, uncertainty that binds the mind to fear. The theme of fearful situations in Tarkovsky’s work is on the one hand rendered palpably experiential and on the other, reflected upon discursively. A scientist who had hitherto obeyed reason blindly, who out of fear of the wishes of human beings had wanted to blow the wish-fulfilling Room to smithereens, now acknowledges his own, fear-ridden existence, tells this to his colleagues, and makes a free decision: he deactivates the bomb he has brought with him. Stalker, who, led by the conviction that he might make a contribution to mankind solely by being a guide in the zone, regularly leaves his family, is so very disillusioned by people’s lack of faith that the surge of doubt he experiences as to his own chosen path initially makes him ill, which augurs his breakthrough t“o a new freedom.

The dizziness of fear

Hitchcock and Tarkovsky, two prominent filmmakers of the twentieth century who could not be less alike, encounter one another in the realm of fear and freedom. In the two films here considered, the experience of fear leads to the possibility of freedom in the social network of inter-subjectivity, a possibility that is not predetermined however. While Hitchcock’s films virtually beg to be read in psychological terms a purely psychological interpretation of Tarkovsky would fail to take account of the filmmaker’s poetic and philosophical character. However differently they may tear down the facade of modern man – who, in Hitchcock’s work is generally subject to nuclear family structures while in Tarkovsky’s he is alienated from nature, has faith only in science or stands cynically before an abyss of doubt –however different may be the cinematic means with which they pursue the fear of being oneself and penetrate so forcefully the deep dimensions of strife-torn subjectivity, they still have in common both an orientation to the dream as an aesthetic phenomenon and a different way of imagining what lies beyond, and hence the inclusion of a sphere that cannot be subjected to reason.

Correlations with the work of Kierkegaard are also variously present. As Kierkegaard’s thesis propounds a treatment of fear based on extreme confrontation with that which provokes the fear and is itself fear, the menacing flocks in The Birds might be seen to serve this function, namely of confronting all the protagonists with their specific fear. While the psychology of Kierkegaard may put us on Hitchcock’s trail, it is more his philosophy of the mind that we find in Tarkovsky. Kierkegaard and Tarkovsky have a common aspiration to make an aesthetic from ethics (Kierkegaard), or an ethic from aesthetics (Tarkovsky). Tarkovsky gives the artist the task of being an agent to another world, in which man is not only a part of nature but, conscious as he is of the limits of cognition, also maintains his faith in magic moments and in poetry, both of which alter perceptions of the world and hence attendant constructions of reality. To this end he leads him time and again to an abyss, on the brink of which the “dizziness of freedom” can be felt. For there is one thing that both filmmakers make clear: human self-determination and self-development are possible especially by means of the constructive transformation that Kierkegaard assigns to fear.

Hitchcock accordingly seeks other means to create a cinematic experience of the “dizziness of freedom” reflected by Kierkegaard, when in Vertigo, already with the title, he names the rotatory vertigo that inflicts the protagonist and underpins a “crime passionnel”.

„Anxiety may be compared with dizziness. He whose eye happens to look down into the yawning abyss becomes dizzy. But what is the reason for this? It is just as much in his own eye as in the abyss, for suppose he had not looked down. Hence anxiety is the dizziness of freedom, which emerges when the spirit wants to posit the synthesis and freedom looks down into its own possibility, laying hold of finiteness to support itself. Freedom succumbs in this dizziness. Further than this, psychology cannot and will not go.“30

Petra Maria Meyer

1 Interdisciplinary consensus as to when a distinction between anxiety and fear is appropriate has been reached. Cf. e. g., Martin Heidegger, What Is Metaphysics? Frankfurt/Main 1949, or Karen Horney, The Neurotic Personality of Our Time, Norton 1937

2 Anxiety is an intensive psychophysical phenomenon that is attended by clear physiological symptoms, whose nature is conveyed by the term itself, for etymologically the German word “Angst” derives from the Middle High German angest and Old High German aungust, in the sense of “constriction, feeling of oppression”. Cf. Duden, Das Herkunftswörterbuch, Mannheim, Vienna, Zurich 1989, p 36.

3 For a historical perspective on research into anxiety cf. Jean Delumeau, Angst im Abendland. Die Geschichte kollektiver Ängste im Europa des 14. bis 18. Jahrhunderts, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989.

4 Cf. Daniel Freeman, Jason Freeman, Paranoia. The 21st Century Fear, Oxford University Press, 2008

5 Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety. A Simple Psychologically Orienting Deliberation on the Dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin, ed. and trans. Reidar Thomte with Albert B. Anderson, Princeton University Press, 1980

6 Cf. op. cit.

7 Atmosphere can be understood as a spatial phenomenon that makes emotional shock experiential. Cf. inter alia Gernot Böhme, Atmosphäre, Frankfurt a. M. 1995.

8 I treat Hitchcock’s Vertigo more thoroughly elsewhere.

9 Some thoughts on Hitchcock arose during a block seminar on the theme of anxiety, conducted in dialogue with Hinderk Emrich.

10 Søren Kierkegaard, p. 58.

11 Cf. Sigmund Freud, The Uncanny (1919), trans. David McLintock, Penguin, London 2003.

12 For an instructive psychoanalytical reading, cf. Slavoj Žižek, Why Do the Birds Attack? In: idem (ed.) A Triumph Of The Eye Over The Gaze: Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Lacan But Were Afraid To Ask Hitchcock, Verso Books, London 1992 p. 279.

13 It is worthy of note that Hitchcock treated this aspect with a dose of irony in presenting an exaggeratedly drawn character, a guest at a restaurant who predicts the apocalypse.

14 In this regard please note the remarks made by an ornithologist in the film.

15 On the progress of research vis-à-vis a “cosmological”, “ecological” and a “familial” reading of the attack of the birds, cf. Slavoj Žižek, op. cit.

16 Significantly, the Reclam publishing house chose to use Munch’s lithograph for the cover of Kierkegaard’s The Concept of Anxiety.

17 Reflections on the recurrence of and variations on the bird theme in both films, as well as on specific situations of anxiety unfortunately had to be cut for reasons of space.

18 Cf. Nachwort by Uta Eichler, in Søren Kierkegaard, p. 203–233, here p. 214.

19 The film drew on the novel Roadside Picnic, by the brothers Arkadij and Boris Strugatzkij, who also wrote the screenplay for Stalker.

20 A thoroughly fruitful review of these films can be found elsewhere.

21 Cf. Søren Kierkegaard, op. cit. Anchored in Christian philosophy, Kierkegaard treats the relationship of prohibition, anxiety, possibility and freedom from the perspective of Original Sin. Prohibition conjures both the threat of punishment and the desire to transgress.

22 Stalker’s daughter will later move a glass with telekinetic power.

23 Tarkovsky’s staging of various acoustic levels in the film, the artificial interplay of language, noises and music, must be dealt with as an issue in its own right.

24 Cf. Johannes Itten, Art of Colour, John Wiley & Sons, revised edition, 1997.

25 On cinematic representation of the experience of the passage of time and on dream aesthetics in the films of Tarkovsky cf. Petra Maria Meyer, Agierende Vergangenheit im Traum. Andrej Tarkowskijs Zerkalo / Der Spiegel mit Henri Bergson bedacht, in: Heide Heinz, Christoph Weismüller (eds.), Psychoanalyse – und wie anders? Text-Gaben zum 70. Geburtstag von Rudolf Heinz, Düsseldorf 2009, p. 103–139, and this: „Denn an diesen Bildern deutet er sich das Leben“. Zur medienethischen Funktion einer anderen Erinnerung an den Schrecken des Krieges in Filmen von Alain Resnais und Andrej Tarkowskij, in: Martin Zenck et al. (ed.), Gewaltdarstellung und Darstellungsgewalt, Berlin 2007, p. 43–89.

26 Cf. Søren Kierkegaard, op. cit.

27 Friedrich Nietzsche, in: Collected Works Vol. 3, Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari (eds.), Munich 1967–1977

28 Paul Valéry, Cahiers/Hefte, 6, trans von B. Böschenstein / H. Köhler, J. Schmidt-Radefeldt, Frankfurt/Main 1993, p. 33.

29 Cf. Hermann Schmitz, Der Leib, der Raum und die Gefühle, p. 50.

30 Søren Kierkegaard, p. 61.