What Tarkovsky offers us is a return through an image, through a succession of images, a series of returns through a succession of memories. What he offers is not what he actually gives, for the giving would require a participation, a privy knowledge of his world. What we thus acquire is what we see through a series of images, for he gives us the opportunity to return, to peel the hard crust that has formed on our skin, the hard surface that is indistinguishable from the indifference that age has given or defeat has acquired. We thus see his world through a number of images and we allow them to be transposed on our skin, our minds and our memories.
We do not simply allow him to take us through the unlit corridors of his childhood but we see in the unlit mazes of his mind the unlit corridors of our childhood too; we see in the unlit mazes of his memories the long winding stuff that we thought we never had, for we were never exact enough and smart enough to think properly, for our thinking was only an attempt to prevent thinking, to prevent us from getting lost in those mazes that are suddenly lit, that blinding memory, that blinding moment.
We learn to see as we follow him, past the peeling walls or the magnificent desk, those sepia photographs, those memories in sepia, are you sure, am I sure, was that true, did it happen? The breeze, the wind, the breezy clothes line, the trees have shed their leaves, the trees are in blossom, leave them alone, those leaves too will fall. These memories are mine, this is how it happened, she turned away as I see it, that is how the preparations for her heartbreak were made, did you hear it, that is when her heart broke.
Longing, desire, regret and hope are all in the same frame, in the same moment, the moment the swing begins, the swing of memories, past the silent courtyard, the vegetable garden, the table, the desk, the cups of tea, the few spoons, her youth, his old age, your childhood, her youth. Past the peeling walls, the unlit corridors, the table, the desk, her smile united with regret, her youth anticipating decay, your boyhood waiting to leave everything behind, the garden, the trees, the leaves, the clothesline.
That breeze has shaken you, those unlit corridors are taking you to places that you have forsaken, that hedge and the green fields beyond, the wafting cigarette smoke that so troubles you. It has taken his memories to remind you of your own, as he takes you through his maze, past his clothesline to your unlit corridors past your clothesline, the place where you decided to abandon the holiest of gods, where in the middle of the night you perpetrated the silent murder, which you can see now as the clothesline billows, as she waits, as the cigarette burns to extinction.