In concluding Chapter One of “Sculpting in Time,” Tarkovsky makes a subtle gambit to interest readers with their wits about them. He offers a conclusion that does not follow from anything discussed in the chapter. In what might seem a mere throwaway line, Tarkovsky reveals a second purpose of his book. Since no intelligent person who spends 15 years composing a book litters it with careless chatter, we can assume this is the book’s primary purpose.
The whole Introduction, written last, is constructed around audience reaction to Mirror as expressed in letters to the director. Although the final movie would be quite different, when he began writing the book, he already had the idea for Mirror in mind. The pride of place Tarkovsky assigns to Mirror encourages the provisional judgment that it contains the true introduction to his methods and insight.
Tarkovsky directed only eleven movies. At least two, Solaris and Mirror, have been acclaimed as movie masterpieces. He also created or co-wrote some 23 movie scenarios or screenplays. Beyond this, all in all, the challenge of creating stories suited to becoming movies seems to have dominated his whole adult working life.