Tarkovsky always maintained that he used the laws of music as the film’s organising principle. He considered film to have much in common with a musical ordering of material, where emphasis was placed not on the logic, but on the form, of the flow of events. And form for him was ultimately linked to time - the duration and the passage of time in each shot. But he did not approach time as an abstract, philosophical concept; rather, it was an inner psychological reality and he believed that one of the aims of the film director was to create his unique sense of time in a film, which was independent of real time.
This Olympian calm of form is what prompted those of Tarkovsky’s colleagues who were expecting intense scenes between the protagonists to call the film dull; it is what turns the burning shed from a destructive accident into an epiphany, and why the grenade the military instructor throws himself on is a dummy… Tarkovsky admired Checkhov for removing the first page of his stories, in order to eradicate the ‘why’. He himself removes pages throughout the story, leaving us with fragments, whose meaning and motivation is not easily decipherable. We are left instead with a feeling for a particular mood, atmosphere or emotion – and a world of juxtapositions and correspondences, to which we must bring to bear our own sensibility. - Natasha Synessios