Amazing, such disparity in his admirers.
Darn right. I'm really suprised this diversity existed among Tarkovsky fans, which makes it really interesting to have a discussion about it. So here's my contribution.
My personal feeling, after reading "Sculpting in Time," is that Tarkovsky's increasingly complex, personal religious purpose in his films made them increasingly inscrutable to those who don't share his belief.
I consider the strongest belief in, for example Stalker, to be the importance, and the necessity, in believing
. For some it can be art, love or a God, you can turn almost anything into a religion. There’s a suitable quote by Robert Bresson I came to think about when reading bunuelian’s post:
"For myself, there is something which makes suicide possible -
not even possible but absolutely necessary: it is the vision of the void,
the feeling of void which is impossible to bear."
Being an atheist or agnostic doesn’t mean you don’t need belief or faith, quite the contrary, more so I would say. But this religious (I think we absolutely can call it religious, since it deals with faith and beliefs) aspect of Tarkovsky’s film-making don’t tells us where to look or gives answers to those eternal questions (the existence of God etc.), they show us people on a quest for something higher, something to believe in.
So for me the religious philosophy that dominates much of Tarkovsky's later films isn't a trouble, even though I consider myself an agnostic.
That’s my take on it anyway…