Andrei Tarkovsky

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Andrei Tarkovsky

Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky (Андре́й Арсе́ньевич Тарко́вский) (April 4, 1932 - December 28, 1986) was a Russian movie director, writer, and actor. He is regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers of the Soviet era in Russia and one of the greatest in the history of cinema.



Tarkovsky was a product of the golden era of Soviet arts education. He received a classical education in Moscow, studying Music and Arabic, before training for over five years at the VGIK film school, studying directly under Mikhail Romm among others. Although the Orthodox Christian symbolism of his films led to prevarication and occasional suppression of the finished product by the Soviet authorities, the Soviet Mosfilm studio system enabled him to make films that would not have been commercially viable in the West. However, Tarkovsky's principal complaint about his treatment by the authorities was that he had many more ideas in him than he was allowed to bring to the screen, and in 1984, after shooting Nostalghia in Italy, he decided not to return to Russia. He made only one more film, The Sacrifice, a European co-production filmed in Sweden, before dying of cancer in Paris at the early age of 54.

Andrei Tarkovsky was buried in a graveyard for Russian migrs in the town of Sainte-Genevive-des-Bois, le-de-France, France.


Tarkovsky's films are characterised by metaphysical themes, extremely long takes, and memorable images of exceptional beauty. Recurring motifs in his films are dreams, memory, childhood, running water accompanied by fire, rain indoors, reflections, and characters re-appearing in the foreground of long panning movements of the camera.

Tarkovsky developed a theory of cinema that he called "sculpting in time". By this he meant that the unique characteristic of cinema as a medium was to take our experience of time and alter it. Unedited movie footage transcribes time in real time. (The speedy jump-cutting style that is prevalent in MTV videos and Hollywood movies, by contrast, overrides any sense of time by imposing the editor's viewpoint.) By using long takes and few cuts in his films, he aimed to give the viewers a sense of time passing, time lost, and the relationship of one moment in time to another.

Up to and including his film Mirror, Tarkovsky focussed his cinematic works on exploring this theory. After Mirror, he announced that he would focus his work on exploring the dramatic unities proposed by Aristotle: a concentrated action, happening in one place, within the span of a single day. The Sacrifice is the only film that truly reflects this ambition; it is also a perfect reflection of the sculpting in time theory.


  • The Steamroller and the Violin (1960) - Tarkovsky's graduation film from VGIK, the Soviet State Film School, cowritten with Andrei Konchalovsky.
  • My Name is Ivan / Ivan's Childhood (1962) - Set in the Second World War, this is Tarkovsky's most conventional feature film, although it still has moments of lyrical beauty.
  • Andrei Rublev (1966) - An epic based on the life of Andrei Rublev, the most famous medieval Russian painter of icons.
  • Solaris (1972) - based on the science fiction novel by Stanislaw Lem and often said to be Tarkovsky's personal response to what he considered the coldness of Kubrick's 2001.
  • Mirror (1975) - A loosely autobiographical reconstruction of key scenes in Tarkovsky's life, the film he'd tried to make earlier but abandoned for Solaris (we can note thematic ties between them). Said by Tarkovsky to be closest to his own vision of cinema.
  • Stalker (1979) - inspired by the novel Roadside Picnic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky.
  • Tempo di Viaggio/Italian Journey (1982) - a documentary made for Italian television while scouting locations for Nostalghia with Italian co-writer (and frequent screenwriter for Michelangelo Antonioni) Tonino Guerra (
  • Nostalghia (1983) - A Russian scholar retraces the footsteps of an 18th century Russian composer in Italy. An encounter with a local lunatic - a man who believes he can save humanity by carrying a lit candle across an empty swimming pool - crystalizes the poet's melancholic sense of longing for his family, faith, and homeland.
  • The Sacrifice (1986) - The film is about the prospect of nuclear annihilation and man's spiritual response to this and other dilemmas set in counterpoint to a minor fable of failed adultery.


External links

et:Andrei Tarkovski fa:آندری تارکوفسکی fr:Andrei Tarkovsky it:Andrej Tarkovskij he:אנדריי טרקובסקי hu:Andrej Tarkovszkij nl:Andrej Tarkovski ja:アンドレイ・タルコフスキー pl:Andriej Tarkowski pt:Andrei Tarkovski ro:Andrei Tarkovski ru:Тарковский, Андрей Арсеньевич fi:Andrei Tarkovski sv:Andrej Tarkovskij tr:Andrei Tarkovsky


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