Thing no.20: Two frames of celluloid


Studying the films of Tarkovsky, I have the chance to view the celluloid print of Andrei Rublev at the British Film Institute. The film arrives in the editing suit as a stack of nine pizza sized metal tins. The film has become a physical object. Millions of tiny 35mm slides slipping through my fingers as I spool the ribbon through the cogs and gears of the Steinbeck. I’m fascinated by a scene where a medieval madman has made a hot air balloon out of animal skins. The bulbous craft briefly flies above the Bruegel-like Russian village only to plunge into the lake below. The balloon deflates like a dieing animal – its breath bubbling through the water – and as it does a horse in the field behind rolls itself over on the grass. I play the scene backwards and forwards. The horse’s shining body rolls over and stands up again and then rolls backwards in time till it stands once more. I do it again and again wanting to fix the moment in my head.

The tape snaps – but its ok. The technician comes and shows me how to join the broken ends with the splicer and leaves me alone once more. Left with the this cutting device and the thousands of perfect frames of the rolling horse I am unable to resist snipping off two extra frames and slipping them into my wallet. My own private Tarkovsky.

Moving house, years later the two frames disappear.

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