Andte¡ JatkoVSky

Te Winding Quest
Peter Green
©Peter Gren 193
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First publishe 193 by
Houndmills, Basingtoke, Hamps�re RG21 2
and London
Companies and repreentatve
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ISBN 0333-533
For Walda
Man i the shuttle, to whose winding quest.
And passage through these looms
God ordered motion, but ordain'd no rest.
Hen Vaughan, Mn
List of Plates
Te Steamroller and the Violin
Ivan's Childhood
Andrei Rublyov
Te Mirror
Te Sacrifce
List of Plates
Andrei Tarkovsky during the shooting of Te Mirror (Archiv
Igor Jassenjawsky, Munich)
Andrei Tarkovsky during the shooting of Stalkr (Archzv Igor
Jassenjawsky, Munich)
I ' Childhood - the close of the f: Ivan and the d

c�::ed tree by the rver (Archiv Igor Jas

enjawsky, Munzch)
Andrei Rublyov ¯ prologue: t�e launching of the balloon
(Archiv Igor Jassenjawsky, Munzch)
A d Rublyov-Kyl (Ivan Lapikov), the lterate man
S. i�e��ct stands in the way of his vision (Archzv Igor
Jassenjawsky, Munich)
. .
Solaris _Chrs Kelvi watching the f of the dead
6" (Archiv Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek e.V., Berlzn)
T Mirror-the father (Oleg Yankovsky�ret home dunng
the war (Archiv Igor Jassenjawsky, Munzch)
Te Mirror _ Maria Ivanovna, Tarkovsky's mother (Archzv
Igor Jassenjawsk, Munich
Te Mirror_ the boy with the bird (Archiv Igor JassenJawsky,
Tarkovsky during the shooting of Stalker (Archzv gar
Jassenjawsky, Munich)
Stalkr_ the stalker and the writer (Archiv Igor Jassen]awsky,
M�� .
Stalker_ the stalker (Alekander Kaidano
vsky) and �e wnter
(Anatoly Solonitsy) (Archiv Igor Jassen]awsky, Mu

Stalker_ in the Zone (Archiv Freunde der Deutschen Kznemathek
e V., Berlin) .
talker _ the stalker's daughter (Archiv Igor JassenJaWs ,
1517. Tarkovsky's grave near Paris (Peter Green)

A successor to his own Rublyov, an icon painter in film, a commen­
tator on our modern condition, Tarkovsky sought a state of harmony
between the inward, spiritual life and the outward material world in
which man lives. He perceived the potential of flm for charting the
modern space-time dimension we inhabit.
Childhood and war, the quest for belief, nostalgia as a yearning
for hore, as a sickness unto death, sacrifice, and hope for the future
are not merely the epic and universal themes of his films; they are
stations in his own life. There is a rare congruence between subject
and object that goes beyond the usual autobiographical parallels
artists draw in their work.
Andrei Arsenievich Tarkovsky was born on 4 April 1932 in
Zavrazhie in the district of Ivanov on the Volga. His father, Arseniy
Alexandrovich Tarkovsky (1907-89), was a poet whose work met
with considerable acclaim in later years and who, like Andrei's
mother, Maya lvanovna Vishnyakova, had studied at the Moscow
Literary Institute. By 1935 the family had moved to the outskirts of
Moscow, where Andrei went to school in 1939 and where he was to
spenJ much of his yonth. For two years during the Second World
War he, his mother and his younger sister, Marina, were evacuated
to relatives in the small town ofYu::ycvetz where TarKovsky's grand··
parents had lived opposite Zavrazhie. The places and images of
Tarkovsky's early years made an indelible impression on him and
were to have a lasting influence on his work. In this world of child­
hood, in the house of his grandfather, as he was to describe in The
Mirror, happiness lay before him; everything was still possible.
As early as 1935, when the family moved to Moscow, strains were
beginning to show in the parents' marital relationship that were later
to lead to Arseniy's separation from his wife and children. In 1941,
with the entry of the Soviet Union into the war, the father volun­
teered for service in the army, in the course of which he lost a leg.
In 1943 the family returned to Moscow and Andrei went back to
his old school. The war years were filled with two main preoccupa­
tions for him: the question of survival, and the retur of his father
from the front. When Arseniy Tarkovsky did finally come hore,
however, highly decorated with the Order of the Red Star, he did not
rejoin the family. Left alone to bring up her two children, Andrei's
My thanks to A Bold (Freunde der Deutschen Inemathek, Berlin),
Jutta M. Brandstaedter, Penelope Houston, Igor Jassenjawsky and
Maya Turovskaya, without whose help this book would not have
been realised at the present tme or i the present form.
2 Andrei Tarkvsky
mother worked until retirement as a proofeader in a printng f.
Tarkovsky grew up with his mother, grandmother and sister.
He was evidently not a conspicuously clever or industrious pupil
at school. He received a taditional musical education at a local
institute of music and also studied drawing at art school. His mother
wanted her son to work in a creative feld, and Tarkovsky himself
later remarked that his work as a fm director would not have been
conceivable without the basic education he had received in art and
On leaving school, however, he initially enrolled in 1951 at the
Institute for Oriental Studies. His course there was interrupted by a
sports injury. Instead o£ resuming his studies on his recovery,
Tarkovsky joined a geological research group on an expedition to
the easter Soviet Union, where he remained for nearly a year,
producing a whole series of sketches and drawings. These experi­
ences in the taiga apparently strengthened his resolve to become a
flm director.2 I 1954 he successfully applied for a place at the
Moscow flm school, where he was to study for six years.
This phase of Tarkovsky's career under Mikhai Romm at the
school for flm coincided with a certain renaissance in the Soviet
cinema.3 Exposed to many new ideas and impulses at this time,
Tarkovsky's own personalty experienced a rapid development. He
completed h studies at the fm school with honours i 1960 with
his diploma submission and fst feature fm, Te Steamroller and the
Violin, in whch many typically Tarkovskian motifs are already evi­
dent. Although certain reservations were voiced within the Mosfilm
studios, where the fm was produced, it received general acclaim
from the press, a fact that certainly stood hm in good stead for the
immediate future.
I 1961 he was appointed by the director-general of Mosfilm to
salvage a film, the shooting of which by E. Abalov had been termin­
a�ed �ue to the unsatisfactory quality of the work. Tarkovsky's
drrection not merely rescued the production and remained within
the budget; Ivan's Childhood proved to be an interational success
and won a Golden Lion at Venice. Despite reservations towards the
film in Russia, the circumstances scarcely suggest the difficulties
Tarkovsky was to experience with Soviet authorities in his future
career. These began with his next film, Andrei Rublyov, and were to
encumber his creative work for the rest of his life in Russia. The
objections to his Andrei Rublyov project, which took five years to
Introduction 3
realise and which had to wait a further three years for a showing in
the West, were initially of a fancial and later of an ideological
nature. But te diffculties Tarkovsky was to encounter throughout
h lfe were certainly also atibutable to his own uncompromising
and often stubbor character.
Tarkovsky's frst marriage was to Irma Raush, an actress who
appeared in his early fms and by whom he had a son. I 1970
Tarkovsky maried the actress Larissa Pavlovna, who also assisted
him in the direction of many of his later flms. Their son Andrei was
bor in the same year.
I hs next work, Solaris (1972), proved less problematic in terms of
its realisation and distribution, Te Minor (19745) again brought
him into conflict with the authorities on account of its subjectve,
autobiographical nature. Four years were to pass before he was able
to direct another f, Stalker (1979). Tarkovsky's own demanding
standards, the loss of flm material and the reshooting of the work
played a decisive role in this. At al events, weary of the obstacles
placed in his path as a director, Tarkovsky applied to make his
next fm abroad. Nostalg (1983), shot in Italy, was a Russian co­
producton with RAL
The letters Tarkovsky wrote in 1983 to F. P. Yermash,4chairman of
Goskino, and to Yuri Andropov,S General Secretary of the Central
Committee of the Communist Party, sum up the director's fustra­
tion and at the same time allow one an insight into his plans. With
the refusal of the Soviet authorities to issue him with a normal
passport, Tarkovsky decided in 1984 to remain in exile in the West
and established a new home in Tuscany. (At one point he is reported
to have sought asylum in the USA, although Tarkovsky stressed at
the time that his exie was that of a patriot and not of a dissident.6)
His wife Larissa remained with him in the West. His son Andrei
(Andryusha) was allowed out only in 1986, when Tarkovsky was
seriously il, following appeals and interventions by various persons
and institutions in the West.
By December 1985 Tarkovsky knew he had cancer. Not knowing
how to break the news to his wife, he retured to spend Christmas
with her in Italy, where the mayor of Florence had given them a
home. But Tarkovsky was not to remain out of hospital for long,
��turning to Paris and later to an anthroposophical clinic in
Oschelbronn near Baden Baden. Although the bulk of the work on
The Sacrifce had already been completed in Sweden, Tarkovsky gave
4 Andrei Tarksk
his fnal istrctions concerg the soundtrack fom a hospital bed.7
The f was completed i 1986 and awarded th� Special Prize of the
Jury at Cannes i the same year.
At the end a number of projects remained uhed or unrealised.
I the winter of 1984-5 Tarkovsky had drawn up plans with the
German director Alexander Kluge for a joint f about the writings
of the anthroposophst Rudolf Steiner. The f was to have been
made after Tarkovsky had completed work on Te Sacrifce. Other
long-ter plans included his Thomas Mann and Dostoevsky projects,
works on St Anthony and the lives of the saints, as well as a f
version of Hamlet, a play he had already directed on the stage in
Moscow and London. H other work for the stage included a not­
able production of Boris Godunov, which he was invited to mount for
Covent Garden in 1983 under the musical direction of Claudio
Undoubtedly the most important of hs unhed projects was
'Hoffanniana', which was to deal with the life and work of the
German Romantic poet E. T. A. Hoffann (17761822). Tarkovsky
had published a screenplay on t subject as early as 19768 and
received a promise of fancial assistance for its frther develop­
ment within the Bavarian f support programme in (986. He had
even determined some of the locations in Charlottenburg Palace,
Berlin. The sceenplay, witten afer work on Te Mirror was com­
pleted, contains many of Tarkovsky' s familiar motfs. During the last
year of his life, i the summer of 1986, after receiving treatment in
Germany and in a moment of respite fom cancer, he took up this
project again, planning to start work i the autumn. At the same
time he was also workig on the Hamlet script9 and had a documen­
tary in mind describing the problems of the artist in exile. But this
period of optimsm and renewed activity proved ilusory and short­
lived. Although he was in no real state to be moved, he went back
briefy to Italy in 1986, where he made plans with his son Andrysha
to build a house. Before long the pains grew worse and he was
forced to retur to Paris for frther treatment. There he died of lung
cancer in the night of 28-9 December 1986.
The sad irony of his death in emigration was that it came at a time
when a new, more tolerant spirit was emerging in the Soviet Union
at the end of the 1980s. The Soviet cinema seemed a particular
beneficiar of the new policies. Having stdiously avoided any cel­
ebration of Tarkovsky's fiftieth birthday in 1982, having placed ob­
stacles in his path as a film maker for much of his life and hindered
Introduction 5
access to his flms, the Soviet authorities now laid a wreath on his
grave in te Russian cemetery of Ste Genevieve des Bois outside
Paris. 10 The frst complete retrospectve of his works i the USSR was
shown during the Moscow Fil Festival in 1987.U
Tarkovsky described a as a yearg for the ideal,l2 the creation of
an alterative reality. He saw the act of creation itself as an essential
moment of art, the artist as a god-like creature; and yet art was not
an end in itself. If, as a man of profound belief, he was to draw the
old parallel between God and the artist, he saw the act of creaton as
one of self-sacrifce and not of self-expression or self-realisation.13
Andrei Rublyov, as an examination of the role of the artist and the
individual in society, again reveals a number of parallels to
Tarkovsky's own situation. Rublyov's retur to painting at the end
of the f is in the service of and to the glory of God, not in any
Promethean demonstation of his own powers. In Tarkovsky's eyes
the artist's strength is derived fom and ret to God. 'The aim of
a is to prepare a person for death.'14
In 1984 Tarkovsky spoke about the Apocalypse and the Revela­
tion of St John at St James's Church, Piccadilly, London. Questioned
on the source of his own strength, he replied that he derived it fom
the things about h. It was not a personal, inner strength, but
somethng outside h; something one could only attai by forget­
ting oneself.15 Tarkovsky once described the role of the artist as that
of an intermediary who receives messages and passes them on. I
other words, like Alexander i T Sacrifce, he is the servant, not the
master of his fate.
Tarkovsky's belief, his dedication of art to the service of God, did
not preclude a profound humanism. He himself would probably
have seen no conflict in that, regarding the love of man and God as
somethg indivisible. His belief, his moral conviction were extremely
personal, a curious mixture of orthodox Christianity, fundamental­
ism, Messianic vision and feethinking. His art and his belief can
both be seen as a lifelong preparation for death. With the shadow of
his own fatal illness upon him, Tarkovsky, in his final film The
Sacrifce, has Alexander speak the words: 'There is no death, only the
fear of death.' In his hospital bed in Germany in the summer of 1986,
6 Andrei Tarkovsk
less than si months before the end, when for a moment there seemed
a possibility of overcoming the disease, he was studying passages
from Ecclesiastes on the vanity of all things. Like the vanitas motifs
from Renaissance paintings he quoted in hs works, he was con­
cered with the fal things of life. A preoccupation with the Apoca­
lypse can be taced throughout his work, fom the Diirer engravings
of Ivan's Childhood to the dark vision of T Sacrifce. Indeed, many
passages of Revelation might have sered as scenarios for Tarkovsky
So, too, the concepts of sacrifice and redemption that he artcu­
lated in such concentated form in his fial work are to be found
throughout hs ruvre. They underlie the actions of Ivan. They repre­
sent a central idea in Andrei Rublyov and are the motivaton of
Domenico's actions (and indeed Gorchakov's) in Nostalgia.
Domenico's self-immolation in Rome is on behalf of mankd and a
better world: Gorchakov sacrifices himself in the execution of a
religious mission he had promised Domenico to perform; and
Gorchakov dies in exile. The strands invariably lead back to Tarkov­
sky himself, creating a remarkable and often prophetic state of
identity between his work, his belef and his own life.
A counterpart to this dark vision is the quest for paradise that
runs through his f. It is the realm of the chldhood dreams, the
sught and inocence of Ivan. It is the motvation of Stalker, and it
lies at the heart of Chris's venture into space in Solaris. But it also
underlies the visions of Nostalgi and T Sacrifce: the idea of sacri­
fice on behalf of a better world, the recovery of innocence and
The state of disharmony in which man lives, the imbalance be­
tween his material and spiritual development, which Alexander
describes in T Sacrifce, is another aspect of this. The loss of inno­
cence, the triumph of materialism and man's spiritual plight are
perhaps moder manifestations of what Alexander refers to as 'si'.
This he sets out to redeem on behalf of the world - not with words,
but with deeds. Words and prevarication had ultimately prevented
the scientst and the writer fom entering the room of fulfent in
Stalker. The emptiness of words and the sacrifce implied by silence
are ideas that recur in Andrei Rublyov, Nostalgia and The Sacrifce.
Tarkovsky describes an essential aesthetic principle of film as its
ability to capture and reproduce time, to retain time 'in metal boxes',
so to speak.16 He extended this idea by suggesting that auteur film
allowed a director to impose a certain form on time. 'Time and
Introduction 7
memory merge into each other'; they are two sides of the same
17 M
rt f ' 1
om. emory l pa o man s marta equipment, Tarkovsky ar-
gued, since life is no more than a fnite period given to man in which
shape hs spirit in accordance with his own conception of human
eXtence. Although time is irretrievable, Tarkovsky saw the past as
far more real or peranent than the present. The present passes
away, slips through out fingers like sand. It acquires its material
weight only in the memory. But time cannot disappear without
Tarkovsky developed this aesthetic idea of flm with increasing
subtlety, cuttng between past, present and future, and between
memory, dream and vision, creating time within time in a complex
system of subjective cross-references. There is an evident afinity to
Proust in this, and Tarkovsky's interest in him as a theme for a film
is not surprising.18Tarkovsky's concept of time as fnite and 'clo�ed'
and his view of the f maker's ability to recreate it, in a sense, to
impose his form on it, are reflected i the titles of the German and
English translations of his book Sapechatlyonnoye Vremya ¯ 'sealed
time' and 'sculpting in time'.19
Solaris and The Mirror went frthest in Tarkovsky's investigation
of time in flm. The former explored the idea of the materialisation of
�reams and memories. The latter, a complex autobiographical
timescape, was a essay in the rediscovery of lost time, in which
begn g and end seem part of an endless spiral. .
A direct adjunct of Tarkovsky's shifting patters of time is his
fondness for merging identities (echoed by his preference for the
same actors in many of hs flms). I the autobiographical context of
Te Minr, for example, this creates a continuing sense of identity
fom one generation to another; father and son are ultimately one, an
idea that recurs in Te Sacrifce, albeit in different form. Two exam­
ples will suffice to illustrate this technique here. In Nostalgia Andrei
comes across a wardrobe standig in a deserted street and opens the
mirrored door, only to encounter the reflection of Domenico. In Te
Sacrifce, after the second vision of panic in the streets, the scene
changes to a flat landscape with pine trees. One sees Alexander lying
in the grass, with what appears to be his wife Adelaide seated at his
side, her back to the camera. As she turs, however, one sees that it
is in fact Maria, wearing the same dress and with the same hairstyle
as Adelaide.
Tarkovsky was concered with other themes as well, of course:
with childhood and war; with the history of Russia and its situation
8 Andrei Tarkvsk
between East and West, between the 'heathen' Orient and Christian­
ity; with Renaissance painting and ideas. I many cases the expres­
sion of these preoccupations emerges as strongly through the images
he created as through the dialogue. Another aspect of the material­
ism he criticised was his concer about environmental destruction.
The apocalyptic aesthetic of ruin that he developed can be seen as
one manifestation of this. Again, it was one of those prescient
coincidences that seemed to recur in his life that te background to
Stalk, made in 1979, anticpated the nuclear catastophe of Cherobyl
in 1986, around which a prohibited zone was subsequently drawn.
Almost all Tarkovsky's themes, however, derve ultmately from his
central ontological preoccupations. Often even asides, such as the
repeated references to smoking in his flms, are centrally related to
questions of his own existence. In the light of this, Te Sacrifce
appears as a premonition of his own death.
Certain visual motifs recur in nearly all Tarkovsky's flms: horses,
dogs, rain, spilt m, mirrors, manifestations of flying or levitation,
parapsychological phenomena. The list i long and varied. His work
abounds in autobiographical quotations of scenes or memories fom
childhood: the family constellaton of mother, son, daughter and
absent father that occurs in Ivan and Te Mirror, for example, or the
collage of home in Nostalgia, with the timber house, the feld, the lake
and the telegraph pole, a topography of his early years. Tarkovsky
used these motifs in a variety of ways to create a network of familiar
landmarks and cross-references, interweaving personal experience
with the themes he was treating.
The summer idyll with the cuckoo's call and the butterfly help
paint a picture of childhood innocence. The bell is used as the herald
of triumph over artistic or moral obstacles. Some of his motifs occur
with almost obsessive regularity, and where they are not present in
the final film, they have sometimes disappeared along the way in the
process of rewriting the screenplay or during shooting or editing
Tarkovsky's dense imagery should not spark off a search for
ambiguities and shades of meaning in every picture he created. That
would lead to a situation he himself feared, where the images ac­
quire an existence of their own, where cinema is removed from life,
�troduction 9
and symbols degenerate to an empty puzzle.21 He rightly saw the
danger of dividing the whole ito a number of discrete parts, re­
moved fom the natural flow of tme.2 His flms and the images that
go to make them up are more than just an accumulation of in­
dividual elements.
The matter might be dismissed as one of defnition - and he
himself quotes the sybolist poet Vyacheslav Ivanov in this con­
texP-if it were not for the fact that Tarkovsky rejected any sugges­
tion not merely of symbolism but of metaphor, simile, allegory and
parable as well. Furthermore, there are evident inconsistencies in his
arguments and between his theory and practice. Tarkovsky claimed
- that in none of his flms is anything symbolised. The Zone i Stalker
is simply a zone, he writes.24 But he goes on to describe the Zone as
life itsel, through which man must pass; and elsewhere he writes,
'A symbolises the meaning of our existence.'2 Persistently ques­
tioned about the meaning of the rain and water in his flms, he
replied that they were merely a depiction of the heavy rainfall of his
home and a diect representaton of nature, albeit used to create an
aesthetic setting.26 In other words, he recognised that rain or sun­
shine can lend additional atmosphere to a scene. Elsewhere he de­
scribes the cinegenic qualities of water.27
Tarkovsky is telling only part of the story, however. His use of
water and other images is not merely a wil manipulation of at­
mosphere and cinegenic effects. The painterly quality and composi­
tion of his pictures is no mere coincidence. Tarkovsky' s art studies in
his youth found their contnuaton in his later drawings and sketches;
and his lifelong preoccupation with Renaissance and earlier painting
was a source of inspiration fom which he borrowed many icono­
graphic codes and conventions. The system of attributes and sym­
bolism, the lightig and coloration that formed part of a familiar
language used by the old masters are explored in Tarkovsky' s flms
too consistently for his images to be chance arrangements with no
more than an aesthetic fnction. The mirrors and other tokens of
decay that are a major feature of nearly all his works are closely
related to the vanitas objects and ideas central to the tradition of still­
life painting. Similar parallels between the films and painting can be
seen in the quotation of the four elements (nor should one overlook
the important role they play in the Russian Orthodox liturgy). Water
and its allied symbols - bowls, jugs, towels, fish - were tokens of
purity and purification (cf. the hand-washing scene in Maria's house
in The Sacrifce and the complex Marian reflections of that film). The
Andrei Tarkovsk
many manifestatons of water, partclarly in Tarkovsky' s later

cannot be attributed solely to his nostalgia for the inclement climate
of his home, nor to the needs of cinematographic atmosphere.
Tarkovsky's fear of unwanted interpretations that might distract
attention fom the central statement of his fs is justied. Why
indeed should the artist volunteer to dissect a work he has taken
such pains to put together? It stands as a whole, and it would be
unwse to sift out layers of meaning if in the process one were to lose
sight of its unity. Nevertheless, as Maya Tur

Tarkovsky's flms do not exist on a level of pure mformation, but on
a level of signifcation as well.28 He himself acknowledged the need
for the viewer to make h own interpretative contribution.29 Fur­
thermore, a deeper, more enduring appreciation of h flms is more
likely to be found in an analytical approach than in vague evocations
of their 'poetic' qualities. Tarkovsky himself used the word repeat­
edly and attempted a deftion, although he came to see the dangers
implicit in it.
In discussions of Tarkovsky' s flms the word 'poetic' all too often
seems to stand for some undefned and effusive notion of beauty.
His flms are undoubtedly poetic, but not for any vague emotional or
mystical qualities. Their true poetry lies in the

of im­
ages, sometimes allusive or associative, s

times reinfor

g an
idea, compressing further layers of meanmg mto a scene Without
extending its length- a distillation of cinematographic

The need to understand this process provides the ultimate JUStif­
cation for an analysis and interpretation of his works, notwthstand­
ing Tarkovsky's reservations. I the ruined churches of Ivan's Child­
hofd, Andrei Rublyov or Nostalg, seen in the context in which they
occur, were really no more than ruined buildings or local colour,
then Tarkovsky's vision is denied much of its intensity. If one may
not associate the idea of the tree of life with the verdant and the
crippled examples of trees in his frst and last flms, then his argu­
ments are robbed of their persuasion. If the cuckoo's call of Stalker
does not recall the idyllic realm of Ivan's youth and Tarkovsky's
ow childhood in The Mirror, our perception of the loss of paradise
is less intense.
Introduction 11
In his cticism of the "Tarkovsky cult' Thomas Rothschild provides
a rare polemic against the director.3 But even if the recepton of
Tarkovsky's fs has not always been intellectually reasoned, as
this criticism asserts, an intuitive awareness of their signifcance
hardly invalidates them. The world of flm is not so richly endowed
that one can afford to dismiss thi body of work as the product of
'militant irrationalism'.
Despite te metaphysical dimension of his work, despite the fact
that Tarkovsky's ultate argument and source of inspiration was
his belief, he scrupulously sought to observe the physical laws of
this world. During the expedition in Stalkr, for example, the wter
hears a voice warg him not to proceed further. At frst it seems to
be the voice of some invisible presence, of God Hiself perhaps; but
the stalker promptly provides an explanation by suggestig that h
companion is inwardly afaid to go on and has uttered the warg
to himself, in order to create a way out of his dilemma. In all the later
flms there are examples of this phenomenon. The whole structure of
Te Sacrifce is indeed built upon just such a devce.
That there are many allusions to myth and parapsychological
phenomena cannot be denied; but here too Tarkovsky either leaves
the issue open by introducing an element of ambiguity/1 or he
translates the action to the world of dreams. The resurrection of
Chris's dead wife Harey in Solaris, for example, explores the idea of
the materialisation of memories and dreams. That these other planes
of consciousness are ultimately less real or rational than our tan­
gible, waking world is something Tarkovsky denied.
Our age is becoming increasingly mistrustful of processes that,
though seemingly entire in their logic and reason, fnally prove to be
one-sided. Concepts of progress and feasibility alone are no longer
adequate in themselves. There is widespread disappointment in the
seemingly unlimited but inhuman potential of technology, causing
people to tur to non-rational alteratives. Tarkovsky's use of super­
natural and mystical elements should not be seen as a flight fom
rationalism, but as part of his attempt to redress the imbalance
between the material and spitual worlds. He described the devalu­
ation of words, observing that moder man suffocates in informa­
tion; but that the messages that might change his life do not reach
him; that he is no longer receptive to possible riracles.32
12 Andrei Tarkvsky
In her essay on German Romanticism and Tarkovsky's fihns,
Felcitas Allardt-Nostt describes a tendency to mystification and
an interest in exploring the unconscious that Tarkovsky shared with
writers such as Novalis, E. T. A. Hofann and others, who exerted
a strong influence on Russian literature in the nineteenth century.3
A diect lne can be taced fom the Ger Romantc v Dostoevsky
to Tarkovsky. Dostoevsky, and in partcular Te Idiot, were of great
importance to Tarkovsky' s tg and provided a number of themes
he hoped to f in the course of his career. The fgure of the divie
fool is reflected in many of the central characters of his fhns.
More to the point than Rothschid's accusation of irrationalism is
his criticism of Tarkovsk's attitude towards women. One knows
that, after the departure of hs father, he was brought up by the
women of his family and that his subsequent attitudes towards
women were not unproblematic. This also emerges from an inter­
view he granted, in which he is alleged to have said that the inner
world of a woman is necessarily dependent on her feelings towards
a man; or that women who spoke of thei own self-dignity did not
realise that, in terms of male-female relationships, the only adequate
expression of this dignity was to be found in their 'utter devotion to
the male'.3 How, Rothschild asks, can a person with such opinions
be regarded as one of the great humanists among fhn makers?
In the flms themselves Tarkovsky's attitude towards women is
ambivalent. The female characters represent mother, wife, lover,
witch, Virgin Mary, eteral womanhood, all in one or in varying
combinations. The best example of this is perhaps to be found in Te
Sacrifce, where the two leading female roles-Adelaide and Maria -
not merely embrace all these aspects of womanhood but seem to
merge in identity at one point. On the whole the women in his fs
play a subordinate role. In Ivan's Childhood there is no doubt about
his compassion for the mother, whereas the development of the
character of the nurse Masha and her relationship with the men is
indecisive, in a similar way perhaps to the later figure of Eugenia in
Nostalgia. In Andrei Rublyov women play an even more peripheral
role: as a naked peasant girl in a noctural heathen celebration, or as
the deaf-mute for whom Rublyov feels compassion and whom he
saves from violation. The female roles in Solaris are more developed.
Significantly enough, however, they involve Chris's mother and his
deceased wife Harey, who materialises from his memory on the
planet Solaris, yet remais ultimately unattainable (a depiction of
idealised, eteral womanhood).
Inevitably, The M
or is the flm in which women play the most
rportant role, f

r It IS the most autobiographical of Tarkovsky's
rks. Jere agam, ho

ever, it is interesting to see the strength
wxth which the mother IS portrayed, the problematic nature of the
husband-wife relationships, and the idealised depiction of the ado­
lescent girl with the bleeding lips. In Stalker the main female roles are
those of the much-suffering wife and of the crippled daughter. One
sees that whe

e Tarko:�ky is concered with describing the mater­
nal or redeemmg qualities of womanhood (the Marian fgure, so to
speak) he a�iculates his c�aracters far more fully and sympatheti­
c�lly. The �e or partner IS ofen either a hysterical, quarelsome
fgure (Adelaxde and Eugenia) or a suffering creature (the stalker's
wife). Women in Tarkovsky's world have to be either divine or
dependent; there is no equality.
Although Tarkovsky rejected Eisenstein's concept of a 'montage of
attractions', the two Soviet directors had much in common in their
theory and practice. Both believed in the importance of the creative
role of the spectator.3 Both used the surprise effect of the cut and the
osition of unexpected elements to stimulate the imagination of
the VIewer. Tarkovsky criticised Eisenstein's use of rapid cutting and
the rhetorical, propagandistic content of his later flms;3 but one
should not forget that Eisenstein's theories were originally devel­
oped for the stage and subsequently appled to silent flm. What is
more, they were formulated in the early years of the Revolution,37
during a period of expressionistic upheaval and innovation in the
arts. By the 1960s, when Tarkovsky's frst flms appeared, Russia
was just beginning to emerge from the numbing trauma of
Stalinism. The pioneering ideas of the 1920s had, nevertheless, gone
round the world in the meantime, and Tarkovsky was able to
address a quite different generation of cinema-goers with a far more
sophisticated visual understanding. Certain techniques for which he
criticised Eisenstein would seem to be evident in his own films.
Andrei Tarkovsky
Without necessarily constructing a diect line of descent


n s

Tarkovsky as part of a tradition of Soviet film tha
t �ad Its

ngms �
the work of directors as different in style and conVction as Eisenstem
and Pudovkin, Vertov, Kuleshov and Dovzherko. What they all had
in comon was an awareness of the significance of montage.
One of Tarkovsky's lastig contributions to cinema wa
in e

tending the gram ar of flm and the perceptive range of �audi­
ence. This was achieved paradoxically enough by what m many
cases amounted to a progressive reduction or refinemen

of mea

The process can be observed i the camerawork and cutting, and m
Tarkovsky' s use of music. After Te Mirror, for exa�ple, th


of cuts in his flms fell dramatically.3 In The Sacrifce, which ÎÕ 145
minutes long, there are only 120 takes.3 This demanded not


a careful consideration of the cuttig itself, but the co-ordmatlon
of complex patters of movement and camerawork. The opening
sequence of Te Sacrifce by the sea shore is a well-kn
wn exa
of this. Tarkovsky's later fims, and notably Nostalgza, are distin­
guished by their imperceptibly slow zooms and d
lly shots, and an
absence of rapid movement. Nevertheless, the action does not stag­
nate. It maintains its tension by a variety of other means: ty

visual fascination of the pictures themselves and the associations
they evoke; by the qualty of the cuts and changes of scene a

d the
sense of rhythm engendered by this; by the element of surpnse; by
changing perspectives and the fluid qualty of space; by changes of
light within individual scenes; by the choreography of t�e actors

by other sources of movement such as water, billowmg

opening doors and so on. Movement is made more meanmgful m
the context of stillness.
A further example of this process of reduction is Ta�kovsky's
progressive restraint in the use of music. Only in the early flms does
it serve as background colouring. The idyllic atmo

�here of t�e
dream sequence in Ivan's Childhood is underlined sensitively, but m
conventional manner, by Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov's scor

innikov also wrote the music to The Steamroller and the Vwlm and
Andrei Rublyov. Thereafter Tarkovsky tured to the el

ctronic music
of Eduard Artemiev for his remaining films in Russia, and to folk
music and works by classical composers. He used music lessand less
as a background, until in The Sacrifce, apart from the Bach accompa­
niment to the opening credits and at the close, the

e are

o sounds
extraneous to the action. The sole music in this last film spnngs from
Introduction 15
the actual events (played by Alexander himself on an organ or on a
tape recorder that he starts and stops within the action of the flm).
Paralel to t gradual elmination of music fom h f, Tarkovsky
places icreasing emphasis on a score of natural background sounds
- dogs barking, motor-driven saws, bird calls, fog hors, the sounds
of the sea and so on, counterpointing the action of the film.4
Just as he pleaded for the elimination of extraneous music,
Tarkovsky regarded colour in the cinema as a mistake, and black
and white as 'more expressive and realistc' Y He described colour
in fm as above all a commercial consideration and pleaded for its
'neutralization', to prevent it assuming all too great a dominance. At
the same tme he argued against the adoption of ideas of coloration
fom painting, which, in some respects, contradicts the obvious visual
kinship of flm and painting and the inspiration Tarkovsky evi-
dently drew fom the latter.
His way out of the paradox of the false realism of colour in flm
was to use it as a means of differentiation. Andrei Rublyov was the
frst full-length f in which he used colour at all - if only for the
fal sequences. The idea of differentiation had already appeared in
Ivan's Childhood, however, where Tarkovsky shows the two children
on a lorry-load of apples in a negative image. Thereafer he was to
develop the idea with increasing subtlety as an expressive element
of his work, using black and white, sepia tones, colour flm and
archive material to distinguish between different times and places,
different states of reality and consciousness. The range and potential
offered by fm were ideally suited to Tarkovsky's complex world of
changing tes and identities, his shifts fom past or present reality
to vision and dream.
He perfected this technique to the point where it became a system
of signifcation in itself in his later works. In his fnal flm, Te
Sacrifce, the pale norther light of Scandinavia minimises the colour
contrast to such an extent that the difference between the various
tonal planes are sometimes scarcely perceptible.
Aesthetic and technique, themes and motifs were unifed in his
work. It is not the intention of this book to dismember the flms, nor
to translate Tarkovsky's images into simple sets of meanings. That
would merely do them a disservice; for each film as a whole is more
than just the sum of its parts. It is the aim of this work to facilitate
access to Tarkovsky's richly strctured world of time and space and
to help provide a deeper understanding of his own lifelong quest.
The Steamroller and
the Violin
I only need my immortality
For my blood to go on fowing fom age to age.
Arseny Tarkovsky
With something of the expressive power of a hamer and a sic\e,
the steamoller and the violin are brought together in what may be
seen as an ideal union between physical and creative strength. I h
final work at the Moscow flm school (produced within the Mosfilm
studios) Tarkovsky describes a simple episode-the adventures of a
single day that befall the seven-year-old boy Sasha on his way to and
fom a violin lesson. At the centre of these experiences is his encoun­
ter and fiendship with Sergei, the driver of a red steamroller.
Tarkovsky wrote the screenplay jointly with Andrei Mikhalkov­
Koncalovsky, a fellow-student in the class of Mikhail Romm at the
f school.1 The story was a modest vehicle for Tarkovsky to dem­
onstrate his abilities as a flm maker and gain his diploma. His real
achevement lay in infusing it with life and in the observation of
details with which he lends it wit and charm.
As i some of his later f- Ivan's Childhood, The Mirror and, i
part, TÇ Sacrifce- Te Steamroller and the Violin presents a child's
view of the world, the camera itself assuming the perspective of the
seven-year-old boy on many occasions, affording a glimpse of events
fom Sasha's eye-level and communicating his sense of wonder at
the things about h.
The feeling of trepidation with which the young violinist encoun­
ters the tough boys on the stairs of his house or in the street, the
hierarchies of power existing among them, and the resource Sasha
shows in living with them on an uneasy footing in the same neigh­
bourhood are sensitively expressed in the film. Tauntingly referred
Te Steamroller and the Violin 17
to as the 'musician' by his contemporaries, he feels out of place in
their world and seeks to escape or circumvent it as far as possible, at
the same time, like all boys, longing to be accepted as part of it.
Despite its outward show of toughness, however, this hard world
of street youth is also a world of bluff, as Sasha himself demonstrates
in one of the most humorous sequences in the flm. He obseres a
youth who is bullying a smaller boy in stockings by bouncing a large
ball on the latter's head. Sasha himself i scarcely much taller than
the little boy but, hands stuck jauntily in his pockets, he orders the
older boy to pick on someone h own size. The youth is unsure of
himself at Sasha's impressive display of confdence and retreats into
a nearby house. Sasha, perhaps intoxicated with his success, makes
the mistake of following the boy into the dark entrance and is there
given a good hiding. (One hears the fght, but does not see it, the
view of the camera remaining fxed all the time on the road outside,
beyond the half-open door.) The older boy again beats a hasty retreat
when he sees Sergei approaching. Sasha is at least able to enjoy a
final triumph, despite the beating he has suffered. Magnanimously
he hands the little stockinged boy the ball on a string that the other
has left behind.
The flm abounds in amusing details or comic scenes of this kind,
which compensate for any moments of false pathos it might contain.
Tarkovsky describes these scenes in visual terms, with a minimum
of dialogue. A particular example of this is the episode in the music
school, where Sasha and a little girl exchange glances while awaitng
their turs for a lesson. Sasha polishes a large apple, which he
eventually places on the chair next to the girl before he goes in for hs
lesson. She looks furtively round to see that no one is watching, but
she is startled by a noise. The tabby cat, which the camera has
already observed cleaning itself when Sasha entered, jumps down
fom the chair. The little girl now demonstratively moves the apple
even further away fom herself, as i placing it beyond the reach of
temptation. One sees the apple in close-up on the chair. In the back­
ground Sasha' s remarkable performance on the violin can be heard.
The scene cuts to the next room where he is playing and where his
teacher reprimands him for day-dreaming and not keeping to the
beat of the metronome. After his lesson Sasha leaves the room with
his head bowed in dejection, completely forgetting the little girl.
She stares after him as he goes. The camera pans down to the apple
again - but all that is left of it is the brown core on the chair.
The episode extends over a number of takes. Tarkovsky develops
Andrei Tarkvsk
two parallel strands, returg to details that one has perhaps
already forgotten, heightening the humour through the element of
Another example of this purely visual wit occurs when Sasha, on
his way home, is allowed to drive the red steamroller on his own.
The other boys stand on the kerb with expressions of envy or in­
credulity written on their faces. One of the bigger boys rides round
the steamroller on a bicycle to demonstrate his own prowess. Sud­
denly there is a crash. The boy has evidently fallen fom the bicycle
- one merely hears the noise. Al one sees is the bell of his bicycle
rolling under the steamroller and crushed into the asphalt. The scene
cuts to a picture of the boy himself, limping away with his bicycle
over his shoulder and a wheel in his hand. The humour is simple,
almost slapstick in nature but, in its timing and in terms of what
Tarkovsky shows and does not show, it possesses genuine wit. Above
all, these scenes demonstrate Tarkovsky's early exploration of the
essentially visual elements of f_ the use of background sounds
and the economy of dialogue.2
Central to the story is Sasha' s relationship with Sergei, the steam­
roller driver. Sergei makes Sasha's acquaintance at the very begin­
ning, intervening to help the young boy escape the clutches of the
local youths and regain his violin. On hs way home fom his music
lesson Sasha meets Sergei in the street again and the two become
firm friends. Sasha is only too wl g to assist the driver by handing
him the tools he needs to adjust the motor. Sergei allows his new
friend to ride on the steamroller, to try the mechanism and finally to
drive it on his own. They fetch Sergei's lunch together- a bottle of
milk and a loaf of bread; and finally they agree to go to the cinema
in the evening.
In this relationship the world of the working man and that of the
child musician are contrasted. Sasha himself lives in a world that
seems outwardly hostile to his artistic ambitions. Maya Turovskaya
sees in this an initial attempt on the part of Tarkovsky to explore the
role of the artist in socieif-a theme that was central to the director's
work. It is true that Sergei displays a sense of awe at the sight of the
violin (as indeed do the street urchins on opening the instrument
Te Steamroller and the Violin 19
case) and at Sasha's impromptu performance over lunch; that he
seems impressed by Sasha' s eloquence on the subject of resonance
and acoustics. In the hard street context the fagile, polished instru­
ment, seen in close-up, does radiate a sense of magic. Sasha's per­
formance is indeed awe-ispig; and his sudden volubility on a
subject close to his heart commands respect.
Sergei's expression of disappointment at the end, when Sasha is

ked in his
room by his mother and prevented fom joining his
fend at the cmema seems exaggerated, especially as Sasha's place is
soon taken by the attractive young woman who drives the yellow
steamroller and who has been trying to date Sergei all day.4 The
actions of the adults might, of course, be seen as a projection of the
fantasies of the child, which would certainly provide an explanation
for the many seemingly exaggerated or unlikely moments in the
fe Tarkovsky himself described this particular scene outside the
cinema as a 'tragedy'. Sergei is disappointed not merely that the boy
has not appeared, but that the child's world has therewith closed
itself to him again.5 The perspective of the child and the adult's
desire for access to it are set of against each other in the f+
Sergei's disappointment and Sasha's fustration are two faces of the
same coin.
Sergei's behaviour towards Sasha is otherwise that of an under­
standing adult who smilingly comprehends the situation of the child
in his own world and who has the patience to exchange experiences
with him as an equal. When Sasha washes the gre from his face
after his encounter with the bully in the house entrance, Sergei tells
him that he is not a worker but a 'musician'. There is a hint of
mocker in the word. It is the same expression with which the gang
of boys fom the neighbourhood had cajoled Sasha at the begn g.
No wo

der that, afer all the enthusiasm he has shown to help Sergei
and dnve the steamroller, having identied himself with his fiend's
work, Sasha is now hurt and throws the loaf of bread they have
bought for their lunch to the ground in anger. Sergei reproves him
for this. Their differences are soon forgotten. But Sergei's words are
not merely the rebuke of an adult. They express the experience of
one who has known the privations of war and its aftermath-and at
this time they carry more weight than the spleen of an artist. One
recalls the crippled boy on the stairs holding a hunk of bread in his
hand when Sasha sets out for his music lesson at the beginning of the
Although Tarkovsky was certainly concerned with the role of the
20 Andrei Tarkvsk
artst in society, his treatment of the character of Sasha can scarcely
be seen as a serious examiation of that subject. The marks on the
boy's chin fom the rbbing of his instrument can perhaps be com­
pared with the weals on the worker's hands. Far fom defning the
special position of the artist, they are more a token of the unty of
labour. Tarkovs]y underlines this idea of unity or equality in labour
in the sequence where one sees Sasha practising his violin at home,
intercut with scenes of Sergei driving his steamroler, with the two
layers of sound superimposed. Any doubt about Sasha' s soldarity
with his new fiend and the steamroller are dispelled when the boy
explains to his mother, with a hint of pride, that he has machine
grease on his hands.
It is important to remember that the period when the f was
made was one of new hope and reconstruction in the Soviet Union.
Te Steamroller and the Violin makes a topical reference to the large­
scale building developments that were going on in Moscow at the
time. Parallel to this the younger generation of f makers enter­
tained certain hopes for an artistic renaissance.6 It is unlikely that a
young man, not yet 30 years of age, who, like his own hero Sergei,
had personally experienced the privations of war and Stalinism in
Russia, should remain uninfluenced by these emotions. Nor is it
surprising that Tarkovsky's frst f, made while still studying,
should reveal some of the pathos of more ideological works, in
which Soviet heroes of labour engineer a brave new world. In the
demolition scenes in Te Steamroller and the Violin an old fa<ade
collapses to reveal the gleaming white towers of a palace of the
people (though Stst in spirit) as an expression of this faith in the
future. Part of this was te old belief in the indivisibility of labour,
whether intelectual or manual, industrial or agricultural; and what
greater symbolic extremes could one attempt to unite than a violin
on the one hand and a steamroller on the other?
Had it not been made by Tarkovsky, The Steamroller and the Violin
would probably be of little consequence in the history of film. Along­
side the diploma works of most other film students it may stand out
as a work of genius; but its length alone (46 minutes) makes it
difficult to place in most moder commercial cinema programmes.
Te Steamroller and the Violin 21
Despite its authorship, showings are rare and interational copies
are limited in number. As a children's f it might arguably hold its
own;7 but although it has wit, charm and invention, the story is
probably too slight to stand up in any other context.
It is as a forern er of the later f and a point of reference for
Tarkovsky's stylistic development that Te Steamroller and the Violin
is of interest, as an early essay exploring some of the ideas that were
to have a profound infuence on cinema in the following two and a
half decades.8 But to what extent were these ideas already present in
th work?
It is the only f Tarkovsky made ina single colour process. Even
in the works after Andrei Rublyov, when he tured more and more to
colour, he used it in various forms as an element of contrast, side by
side with black and white, sepia f and so on. Tarkovsky himself
saw colour in the cinema as a 'great mistake', a 'blind alley' .9 As a
graduating student, of course, he had to demonstrate in this work
his ability to handle the various aspects of f ¯ which he does to
considerable effect. Although working in colour here, he uses it in a
restrained manner, complementing the basic blue and grey tones of
sky, background buildings and clothing with splashes of red and
yellow. Green occurs relatively rarely; and even the reds and yel­
lows are used sparingly, though all the more stgly, as i the case
of the two steamrollers, the red apples or the figure of the red animal
in the shop window.
At the outset Tarkovsky establishes the basic colour tone of the
whole f in the staircase of the block of flats in which Sasha lives.
The play of light and shade and colour on the staircase walls, the red
window panes and the dusty sunlight are used to create a sense of .
atmosphere. The balloons, the apples, the brightly coloured steam­
rollers, the pink dress of the little girl awaiting her music lesson are
contrasted with Sasha' s blue clothes and the blue-grey overalls wor
by Sergei, or set against the grey streets of Moscow.
Tarkovsky shows an early understanding of the use of light and
shade and the effects of sunlight reflected in water. It flickers repeat­
edly in Sasha's face, for example. The exploration of reflections in
water and mirrors plays an important role in this film: the sunshine
glinting i the sheet of water; the ripples that break its smooth
surface; the street urchin trying to catch the dazzle of the sunlight in
his mirror while Sasha is driving the steamroller; or the multiple
images of faces and apples and clocks reflected in the mirrors in the
shop window. More subtle is the use of the dressing-table mirror in
2 Andrei Tarkovsky
which Sasha' s mother interviews her son i the evening. The mother
is scarcely seen. Our attention is captured by Sasha himself and the
objects on the table in font of the mirror. The apples, the bread and
m, the mirrors, the fascination for water in its many manifesta­
tions and the way it moves and catches light are all ideas or phenom­
ena, the iconography of whichTarkovsky was to develop in his later
The delightful episode between boy and girl with the pregnant
symbolism of the apple anticipates te scene on the lorry-load of
apples in Ivan's Childhood; but it does not have the weight in this
earlier flm that similar ideas attain later. Here Tarkovsky merely
quotes the objects, in a sense, holding them up to the camera, as if
not yet knowig what lies within them, not fully aware of their
allusive, ambiguous powers.
The thunder and lightg of the sudden storm (after the differ­
ence between Sergei and Sasha over the loaf of bread) are echoed by
the sunlight glting in an opening window, by the flashes of a
cutting torch and te crash of a bulldozer demolishing old buidings.
Tarkovsky reveals his abilty to create simple stg parallels of
this knd, but without achieving the density of expression to be
found even in Ivan's Childhood.
In addition to the ideas explored in Te Steamroller and the Violin
there are all kinds of minor references (to the harmfulness of smok­
ing,10 for example) or autobiographical parallels to Tarkovsky's own
life that retur in the later works.11 Many of these details are drawn
here in outline and exist in only rudimentary form.
Probably the most signifcant foretaste of his later style is his use
of dream-like sequences. As Sasha's music teacher observes, the
young musician allows his imagination to Î away with h. His
day-dream at the beginning of the flm, when he gazes into the
mirrors in the shop window on his way to his music lesson, is more
a demonstration of what an ambitious film student can do - a clever
visual game - than a moment upon which the action hinges. The
dream sequence at the end of the film is quite another matter. Sasha,
locked in his room at home and unable to join Sergei waiting in the
yard below, writes a message ('not my fault') on a sheet of music
paper, folds it into the form of an airplane and lets it foat down
fromthe balcony to the courtyard. It lands behind Sergei as he goes
off in disappointment; but he fails to see the message. Sasha looks
sadly out of the window; in his imagination he escapes from the flat
and flees. Tarkovsky does not film the little boy rnning down the
The Steamroller and the Violin 23
stairs. One sees the staircase through the lens of the camera, as i
through the eyes of the chid once more as he descends. The scene
cuts to a long view of the courtyard fom above. The red steamroller
drives slowly off. Now one sees the tiy figure of Sasha (i his own
mind's eye) far below, dashig after the steamroller and climbing on
at the back. Here, in siple form, i the enactment of Sasha' s day­
dream Tarkovsky creates the frst of the visionary sequences that
later come to play such a central role in his work. Tarkovsky's key to
the world of childhood is also the means of access to the world of his
Ivan's Childhood
µvancvcdclslvc ]
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time fture
And time fture contained in time past.
T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets
A 'Ivan' project, based on the story by Vladimir Bogomolov,l was
begun in 1960 by an artistic collective under the direction of
E. Abalov. Work had been abandoned by the end of the same year,
however, due to the unsatisfactory quality of the scenes flmed, and
the costs incurred had been written off. This decision was evidently
reconsidered a few months later, for steps were taken to salvage
some of the loss. A further directve from Mosflm dated 16 June
1961 ordered the resubmission of the screenplay by the end of the
month and named Tarkovsky as the director responsible for the
completion of the project (together with Vadim Yusov, photogra­
phy, and Yevgeny Chemyaev, art directon).2
The funds available for the resumption of work were inevitably
limited, in view of the previous expenses incurred on this project. In
addition, the time alowed for shooting the film was extremely tight.3
The situation was certainly not improved by Tarkovsky's desire to
reshape the screenplay in accordance with his own ideas, by the
introduction of a new leading actor, and the abandonment of all the
material previously fmed by Abalov. Although, fom the po�t of
view of Mosfilm, the work in hand represented the completion of an
existing project, in fact Tarkovsk reworked and extended the screen­
play in collaboration with the author and shot the entire material
Even at this early date Tarkovsky's personal theory of film was
relatively well articulated. He was convinced of the overriding im­
portance of author-directorship: that direction should not merely
comprise the realisation of a screenplay written by others. In order to
Ivan's Childhood 25
avoid a conventional flm teatent of a work of lterature, he claimed
the right for hiself to change the 'literary' version of the screen­
play, giving it a new structure, and trg it into something more
suited to the needs of h own flm diection.4
Work on t screenplay had begun in 1960. I h initial teatment
of the material, Mikhail Papava had made signifcant alterations to
the original story, changing the whole balance and structure by
allowng Ivan to surive the war and reappear i a chance encounter
with Galtsev in later life. Signicantly enough, this version of the
screenplay was given the title 'A Second Life'. It defed all authentic­
ity, however, since Bogomolov's own warme experiences and his
subsequent enquies had show that of those young scouts on
whom the character of Ivan was based, few if any had surived.5 At
Bogomolov's insistence and with his collaboration· on the screen­
play, these early changes were largely removed.
When Tarkovsky took on the assignment of fg Ivan he was
therefore confonted with a complete scenaro, which had served as
a basis for the previous abortive film work and in which consider­
able thought and efort had already been invested. I the person of
Bogomolov he was also confonted with a writer who was equally
sure of what he wanted and who had helped create the existing
version of the screenplay. Bogomolov was a well-known author
whose story Ivan was an established work of postwar Russian liter­
ature. What is more, he had been a reconnaissance scout hmself in
his youth and had frst-hand experience of the subject. Bogomolov
was obsessed with accuracy of depicton and insisted on authentic­
ity in the war scenes. This was an aspect that did not particularly
interest Tarkovsky, who described the narrative style of the book as
detached, detailed and leisurely, with 'lyrical digressions' to poray
the character of Galtsev.6 The elements that appealed to Tarkovsky
were the fnal, conclusive death of the young boy, the absence of
dangerous clashes or elaborate military operations, and the person
of Ivan himself. Whereas Bogomolov tells h story fom the poit of
view of the young Lieutenant Galtsev and portrays Ivan's deeds in
a heroic light, Tarkovsky sees the world through the eyes of the
child, removing any hint of heroism fom his leading fgure.
Bogomolov accepted Tarkovsky's suggestion to insert the dream
sequences, which the director had visualised at an early stage and
which introduced a wholly new dimension and structure to the
work. Tarkovsky also managed to persuade Bogomolov at the outset
to accept the new title, Ivan's Childhood. But Tarkovsky's assertion of
26 Andrei Tarkvsky
his own claims as an author-director of equal standig met with
considerable opposition in other areas, i parcular where Bo

was concered with outward veracity and accuracy of detai.
In view of the tight budgetary constraits and the time-limt set
for the producton, Tarkovsky's achievement was quite remarkable.
Shooting was completed by 18 Januay 1962, the f even showing
a saving on the budget. H facility in dealing with producton
diffculties, his purposeful directon and the economic advantages
accruing from this stood him i good stead with the Soviet authori­
ties, who were, on the other hand, more critical of the film's
The f was awarded the Grand Pr, the Golden Lion, jointly
with Valerio Zurlini's Cronaca Familiare, at the Venice FilFestival
in 1962, thus establshing Tarkovsky's interational reputation. In
view of the problematic realisation of Ivan's Childhood and the inte

national acclaim it won, it is extraordiary that Tarkovsky' s cred1t
was so quickly dissipated, and that only four years later his next
f, Andrei Rublyov, was to cause its author so many difficulties in
his own country.
Ivan's Childhood describes the fate of a 12-year-old Russian recon­
naissance scout durng the Scond World War. For Tarkovsky, Ivan's
fate was that of a childhood devoured by war. On Bogomolov's
insitence, the episode was set in 1943.7 Ivan would therefore have
been bor in 1931. Tarkovsky hmself was bor a year later and
obviously shared many of that generation's experiences of child­
hood and war. I changing the narrative viewpoit of the story from
that of Galtsev to Ivan, Tarkovsky inevitably invested the figure in
part with his own view of history. Turovskaya sees Ivan as the
'lyrical self of the director.8 Although one can trace certain parallels
between their lives, Tarkovsky himself denied any closer identity
with the boy. He described his main preoccupations as a child dur­
ing the war as the lack of food and the retur of his father fom the
Ivan's Childhood is both a document of the senseless destruction of
war and a statement of alterative values. Ivan has lost his entire
family and his roots. He is a solitary creature, carrying out his work
Ivan's Childhood 27
alone. His only relationships are those he has established through
the war with the Russian ofcers to whom he reports fom time to
time. One of te most remarkable aspects of the f_ however, is the
absence, in any direct for, of either childhood or war. Ivan is a
person prematurely aged, a stalker in the land of the dead. In the
present time of the f_ chldhood is aleady past. It exists only i
reconstructed form in the 'dreams', the visionary sequences with
which Tarkovsky punctuated the work. I accordance wth the dir­
ector's own conception of the story, scenes of combat do not occur.
The action of the f is set almost entirely in the iterval between
two of Ivan's reconnaissance operations. The battlefeld is a waste
land, a horrifc vision rather than a real scene of war, a symbolic,
apocalytic landscape of destruction that anticpates some of the
settings of the later f. Light-flares shoot up, illuminate the scene
and fade. Reconnaissance parties go out and pass each other in the
night without establishing contact. The events of war le uncannily
removed fom sight. The landscape is littered with the tokens of its
horror - the hanged partisans, the crashed aeroplane, ruined build­
ings, broken equipment, baren, treeless felds. Only in the sporadic
sounds of shellig or machne-gun fre is its presence documented.
Tarkovsky contasts two worlds: the sunlit realm of childhood
and peacetime in the dreams; and the grey waste landscape of war,
in which Ivan is neiter adult nor child. Between waking and sleep­
ing there is no transition, merely a hard cut that juxtaposes the
serene and the sinster. It is scarcely conceivable that the fertile,
sunlit riverside of Ivan's childhood and the barren ravaged theatre
of war are one and the same setting. These two irreconciable worlds
exist in diferent times, i diferent states, but in the same place - on
the banks of the Dnieper. As Tarkovsky himself points out, 'hideous­
ness and beauty are contained within each other'.10 In this trans­
formation of a landscape the whole destructive process of war and
Ivan's loss of innocence are signified.
The absence of spectacular battle scenes is mainly attributable to
Tarkovsky's determination to strip his leading character and war
itself of any heroism or false glory. Although many so-called anti­
war flms indulge in spectacles of destruction, it is questionable
whether the senselessness of war can really be conveyed by a be­
numbing yet possibly fascinating heaping up of violence and death.
Tarkovsky pursues a different path. The war is ubiquitous and yet
nowhere. At the beginning Ivan returs from a mission, and at the
end he sets out on a new one. His actual involvement in the war is
28 Andrei Tarkvsk
not shown. If one is moved by his death, it is not by that of a hero
with whom one identies. Ivan embodies a kind of nsm of which
his own death is a ievitable part. He has no thought of survival.
His commitent to1his cause is total. On h arval at headquarters
he fghts against exhaustion, and he has only one aim i md: to
deliver h rep�rt. He refuses food and refeshment before he has
drawn up h chart, and even afterwards he has lttle hunger. It is he
who is devoured by the war, and therefore cannot logically survive
it. Ivan's signicance lies not in his mtary exploits, not in a heroic
stggle against the foe, but in the contast of his childhood with the
g world of destuction.
A critic remarked at the te that there are too many taboos still
preventing the portayal in f of the tue causes of war.11 It is
indeed an aspect that scarcely forms part of Tarkovsky's analysis.
Ivan himself voices a number of more or less conventional anti­
Fascist sentients. His hatred, which is the driving force withi h,
is understandable, in view of the death of h mother, which he has
witnessed, and the loss of all family ties as a result of the war. When
confonted with a Direr woodcut of a Geran poet, he expresses his
surprise that the Germans have any poets, since he had heard that
they bu their books; and the horors of Direr' s depiction of the
Apocalypse, with the four horsemen trampling bodies underfoot,
suggest to him the suferings inicted by the German troops.12 Des­
pite these occasional references to the enemy and the final defeat of
Hitler's armies, despite the documentary scenes of the overthrow of
the Third Reich, for much of its length the fm occupies strangely
neutral ground. It is perhaps an early example of Tarkovsky's uni­
versal perspectve. The image of resistance functions on three levels:
representing the personal fate of Ivan, the immediate fate of Russia
in the Second World War, and the fate of mankind in war generally.
One of the main points of criticism of the fm has been the lack of
character development. This is most noticeable in the fgures of the
officers, whose relationships to each other are articulated in little
more than outle. One of the fewoccasions when they really inter­
act with each other is in the tentative triangular love affair between
Galtsev, Masha and Kholin; but even here Tarkovsky presents a
strangely unresolved set of relationships. Although the film dwells
upon these at great length in the sequences in the birch wood, they _
remain little more than sketches, not entirely motivated and lacking
a certain conviction. At this point Tarkovsky indulges in a series of
swinging, waltzing, subjective camera movements underlined by
Ivan's Childhood 29
lyrical music that is quite at odds with his later style of flming. The
development of a possible rivalry between Kholin and Galtsev is
indecisive, and when the latter fally posts Masha away from the
font, any tension that might have arisen fom the situation is aban­
doned rather than resolved.
Perhaps the love affair is rendered impossible by the very circum­
stances of war. The scene where Khol catches Masha in mid-air
over the trench and kisses her, with its associations of a kiss by the
grave, would seem to confrm tis. Masha also radiates a similar
kind of naivety and innocence to that of Ivan in his childhood. In the
context of war it is strangely incongruous. Masha' s weakness is the
weakness of many female characters in Tarkovsky's flms. The inde­
cisive interludes i the birch grove are also rendered superfluous by
the lyrical contrast of Ivan's dreams. At all events these interludes
lack the intensity of the dreams and reveal a certain dramaturgical
In the person of Ivan there is little character development either,
other than the contrast between the carefee days of childhood and
the premature ageing of wartme, which one can read in h face.
Although h childhood lies behid him, he has scarcely grown up.
He is like an aged youth. The commanding tone he adopts, his
manner of equality with the ofcers, can only come fom his own
readiness to sacrifce himself totally, fom the sense of the futility of
his personal existence, and fom the idulgence the adults are pre­
pared to show towards a person of such tender years. Occasionally
the youthfl limits of h toughness are revealed: when he begs
Galtsev to give him the knife, for example, or when weariness over­
comes him and he is carried to bed. Otherwise he observes his own
rules of war. There is a certain danger that Ivan's role may still
awaken false sympathies, a sense of approval for his behaviour.
Only i understood fom Bogomolov's point of view, as part of the
logic of the Second World War, can I van's actions be regarded as not
entirely futile.14 Only i seen in conjunction with the ideal world of
the dreams does the question whether or not Ivan is a hero become
The whole moral issue of using children to fight a war - a most
unheroic aspect of the story - is not discussed in the flm. Its discus­
sion was only indirectly and inadvertently raised by those who
wished to reduce the work to the level of a questionable propaganda
display of Soviet resistance. Tarkovsky wisely avoids any implica­
tion of this false heroism by placing the motivation for Ivan's deeds
Andrei Tarkvsk
i the boys own fanatical sense of dedication and revenge. The
officers who are his friends show a pateral care for hm and wish to
remove him fom the forefront of the war.
Ivan's character is portrayed, therefore, not though a process of
development, but in terms of two contasted states: war and peace.
In both, the role is performed by the same young actor, Kolya
Burlyaev, with the result that there is scarcely any perceptible dæer­
ence in Ivan's age between his peacetie youth and the wartme
episode leading to his death. A mere two years separate the outbreak
of war for the Russians and the events depicted in the film anyway.
But the boys features have undergone one change in the meantime.
They have lost the joy and spontaneity of youth and have grown
gaunt and hardened.
. . ,
What moved Tarkovsky in the book was the finality of Ivan s
death and its partcular meaning. There are no heroic deeds, no
redeeming features. The whole content and 'tragic pathos' of his life
are concentrated in his death. It is lterally the end. Having said this,
Tarkovsky proceeds to add a coda of his own to the f¯ the fnal
'dream' of childhood. The signifcance of the change of title fom
'My Name Is Ivan' to Ivan's Childhood and the subtle shift of empha­
sis that has taken place between story and f become apparent.
Ivan's childhood is past. The dream-like interludes in which it is
recaptured, however, are not merely a stucturing device; they are
the essental dimension of the f. They reveal Tarkovskys attempt
to create a positive world in which that of the war would be mir­
rored as a negative image.
Tarkovsky observes a unity of time and place in this fe As in
many of his works, however, he was able to extend the boundaries
of his fnite world by inserting other planes of consciousness and
other times in the form of memories, dreams and documentary
material. Ivan's Childhood was shot entirely in black and white, so
that there was only limited scope for the use of the film techniques
he was later to develop to differentiate between these various planes.
The negative background image in the third dream is perhaps the
only real example of the use of alterative processes. Nevertheless,
Ivan's Childhood 31
the worlds of war and childhood memory he creates are quite dis­
tinct i quality.
Tarkovsky refered to only four dreams15 in Ivan's Childhood, but
the f contains a number of other visionary interludes, at least two
of which stand in clear contrast to the everyday background of war,
even i they do not share the same serene mood as the dreams. The
frst of these interludes hovers between reality and dream, scarcely
distinguished fom the main narrative strand of the f. Ivan, hav­
ig been compulsorily withdrawn fom the font and sent to a mili­
tary academy behid the lnes, absconds and stumbles upon the
God-like fgure of an old man in the ruis of his house. On the r
from his pursuers, Ivan lies down to rest i a hut that resembles the
broken shed in which he had woken after the frst dream. He is
suddenly starled by a white cockerel attached to a rope. It flutters
up to the top of a post. The scenes of his encounter with the old man
have a strange surrealistc quality. The man appears amidst the rins
of hs home with a picture under his arm, searchig for a misplaced
nail. He tells Ivan he has a long jourey ahead of him and that he
should help him fnd the nail, which Iva duly does. The old man
tries to hang the picture on the wall and points to the irony of the fact
that only the chimney has not been destroyed by fre. When the
ofcers finally arrve to take Ivan away, the old man hides. Ivan
leans out of the car window to leave a t of food and a loaf of bread
that he no longer needs; and as the car drives away the old mar, left
on his own once more, with the cockerel under his a, exclaims to
God, When wl there be an end to al t?' Despite Tarkovsky's
dissatisfaction with this encounter, its metaphysical dimension and
the iconography it employs anticipate many moments of the later
The second visionary sequence occurs when Ivan has been left
behind by the offcers, who have gone on an expedition across the
river. Ivan's hallucination begins with te church bell lying on the
floor. He hoists it to the ceiling with a rope and begins to crawl about
the room with the dagger Galtsev has left in his care, talking to
himself, indulging in his own fantasies of war, and throwing a bottle
at an invisible foe. One hears scraps of spoken German and sees
messages scrawled in Russian on the wall.17 Sounds from a radio are
heard; a face appears against the wall, resembling that of his mother.
Ivan rings the bell; the camera movements are agitated. The bell
comes to rest, but its ringing has been superseded by that of another
32 Andrei Tarkovsky
bell; and one hears the sounds of shouting crowds. Ivan over
the table i his continuig vision of war. O the wall where he had
seen the woman standig hangs an old coat. He cries out in despair.
A shell crashes nearby. A series of brief intercut images folows: an
icon painted on a ruined wall; the leaning iron cross of a

ave; a
shell exploding in sunlit water. The vision ends and the sc


diately changes to the real war going on outside. I this fevensh
hallucination, in which Ivan is confronted with his own death in the
fate of the Russian captives who had been imprisoned there before
h, and i which the end of the war is foreseen, past, present and
future are mingled.
I is an early example of the traumatic interludes that occur m the
later works - in the scenes in which Domenico's family is liberated in
Nostalgia, for example, or in the apocalyptic visions of The Sacrif
Other iconographic devices Tarkovsky was to use sub

equently m­
clude the evocaton of the mother, or the bell as an rmage of the
triumph of faith. The bell heralds not merely the end of the war
for the Russians in the final passages of the f; it also anticipates
the far more extensive bell-casting sequence in Andrei Rublyov,
which is the signal of new-found belief and Rublyov's retur to
The third and final visionary sequence occurs towards the end of
Ivan's Childhood and leads into the last of the actual 'dreams'. To the
sounds of cheering crowds the bell rings a "kind of epitaph to the
foregoing events. The war is finally over. A series of documentary
scenes introduce Galtsev's vision of Ivan's death. Having leafed
through countless Gestapo files of partisans who have been liqui­
dated, the young lieutenant sees Ivan's photograph, a counter­
portrait to the face at the begng of the f, now heavy-eyed and
with traces of his suffering prior to execution. The photo falls from
Galtsev's grasp and he jumps to retrieve it, as i through the floor,
down to a lower level. The scene changes to a series of half-lit rooms
in an abandoned, ruined basement. One hears the sounds of German
voices from the past, evidently searching for a partisan. Galtsev
appears again, exploring the rooms of the building as i in his ima­
gination. He opens a steel door and sees a row of empty nooses
hanging from the ceiling; a dirty guillotine; and then the head of
Ivan rolling on the floor. The vision dissolves and Ivan's mother
reappears, as the boy might have seen her in his earlier dreams.
Although Galtsev' s vision leads directly into this final sunlit 'dream',
it can scarcely be regarded as part of it. Contrasted in mood and
Ivan's Childhood 33
lghting, Galtsev's visualisaton of Ivan's death is seen from a difer­
ent viewpoint; and although it too is a recolection of past tie, it is
a time after Ivan's death.
The four dreams themselves present a cohesive whole and inhabit
a world that i quite distict fom that of the war and the other
visions. The frst and last dreams form a framing structure to the f
and are also lnked in content. There is a serenity about all these
scenes that is troubled only at the end. Even the thunderstorm of the
third dream has nothing ominous about it. The pouring rain may be
seen as an expression of the fuitflness of the earth; and ultimately
even here the sun appears. The landscapes of the dreams are flled
with trees and tokens of fulness and fertility.
The scenes of war, in contrast, are almost entirely bleak and
sunless. The earth is barren and wasted, littered with ruined objects.
With the exception of the lyical love scenes, the earth is devoid of
trees or, where trees do appear, as in the swamps, they are broken
and lifeless. Even the organic objects Ivan uses as a prop for his
memory when drawing up h chart of enemy troop deployments or
military installations - the berries, catkins, nuts and pine needles -
are dead and dry; and the headquarters of the Russian reconnais­
sance troops are located in the celar of a ruined church - an image
to which Tarkovsky was to retur i his later work.
The first dream, with which the f opens and which precedes
the credits, was described by Tarkovsky as representing from begin­
ning to end one of his earliest memories of childhood, when he was
four years of age. Ivan is introduced at the outset in an idyllic sunlit
landscape with animals and insects. A butterfly flutters over the
grass, leading into a sequence in which one has the impression of
flying, the camera floating through the air, down a hillside towards
a track and a beach below. A cuckoo is heard. Ivan turs and runs
towards his mother, who is carrying a bucket of water.
9 The vision
breaks off abruptly. Ivan is wrenched from his dream and wakes to
find himself in the ruins of a hut. Sounds of machine-gun fire are
heard. One sees a ruined windmill and the f suddenly plunges
into the reality of war. In the semi-darkness of dawn or dusk light­
flares sporadically illuminate the sky. Ivan is seen making his way
through the swamp, returing from his reconnaissance expedition.
The second dream occurs in the headquarters of the Russian
reconnaissance troops. Ivan, exhausted from his expedition, having
made his report, washed and eaten a little, falls asleep and is carried
by Galtsev to bed. A fire bums in the brazier; one sees water drip-
3 Andrei Tarkovsky
ping and Ivan asleep. With these three Tarkovskian images, the
scene changes to the dee shaft of a well. The camera is situated
initially at the bottom, but in the course of the scene the viewpoint
changes backwards and forwards fom bottom to top. Far above,
Ivan and h mother are seen looking down. She tells him that in
very deep wells one can see stars at the bottom, even on a bright
sunit day. The boy reaches dow to touch the light beneath the
surface of the water and suddenly finds himself at the bottom of the
well. Apove, one hears voices and sees men drawing up the bucket.
A sound of machine-gun fre follows, and Ivan cries out: 'ama!'
H mother lies dead beside the well. The bucket plunges back down
towards the bottom, hitting the surface of the water near Ivan. Water
splashes out over the body of h mother. The boy wakes and asks
whether he has spoken in h sleep.
The third dream follows the scene in the ary headquarters when
Ivan tells Kholin not to smoke. Lying on his back looking at the
ceiling, the boy dozes off. The dream sequence opens with a thun­
derstorm and a heavy fall of rain. A lorry loaded with apples is
driving along a tree-lied road. Apples fal of the back of the lorry.
The picture is illuminated by a flash of lightning, and at the same
te the screen of trees that forms a background to the two children
seated on the lorry is reversed into a negative image. In the pouring
rain one sees Ivan sitting on the heap of apples wth a little girl. She
is show in three successive close-up images holding up an apple to
him. The rain does nothing to dampen thei joy. The music under­
lines the happy mood of this scene. The negative image of the back­
ground of trees dissolves and the rain ceases when the lorry reaches
a sahdy beach by the river. The sun emerges and, as the lorry recedes
fom the camera, the apples tumble off the back on to the sand,
where grazing horses eat them. This is the only dream in which
Ivan's mother does not appear. The mellow sunlit images of sand
and water, horses and apples - a homage to Dovzhenko's Earth2 -
give way to the waking reality of Kholi packng provisions for
another expediton - bread, eggs and cheese, tokens of fuitflness
in themselves, yet now in a quite different context.
The fourth and final dream, with which the flm ends, might be
seen as a continuation of the previous one. It is set on the sandy
shores of the river; and the little girl is again present. The dream
follows Galtsev's own vision of the death of Ivan. One sees the
mother with the bucket she had been carrying at the beginning of the
film. Ivan drinks from it. A group of children stand in a circle about
Ivan's Childhood 35
�· He counts them out for a game of hide-and-seek. They run of,
whie he closes h eyes and waits until they have hidden them­
selves. The little girl's face appears fom behind a pile of drifwood
by the water. Ivan goes in search of the children. The image of the
dead, charred tree appears.21 I the sunlight and to the sounds of
serene music, Ivan rns afer the little gil along the beach, the water

n the sandy shore. But the music gives way to an
mcreasmgly onous drum beat. Ivan overtakes the girl but, instead
of stopping, he races on and on into the shalow waters, as if im­

elled by some unseen force. Slowly the waters become deeper, until
�ally the scene of the sunlit beach is superseded by the image of the
Withered tree. The contents of t dream might well have stood at
the begn g of the f_ for they are a parable of Ivan's whole life
and bring the f fll circle in te and place.
Although the overal impression conveyed by the dreams is one
of serenity and happiness, in two of them the shadow of war is
already present. The second dream portrays the death of Ivan's
mother; the fourth ends with the ominous drum beat accompanyng
h unending race ito the waters of the Deper. The fnal picture of
the blasted tee serves as a memorial and monitory sign against war.
Futhermore, although the frst dream is a paean to nature, it is
b . oug�t to an abrupt end with the sudden cut to the reality of the
battlefield and the ruined hut in which Ivan is shelterng. Like
Galtsev' s vsion, which leads ito it, the fial dream is a remem­
brance of tme past - within the chronology of the f_ a posthum­
ous d

eam, if that is possible. How could Ivan dream it when, stctly

peakig, ?e was already dead? T ideed once prompted the
mterpretation of t dream as an epilogue added by Tarkovsky,2
although it is of the same nature as the frst three.
Assumig that the world of the dreams is not present time in the
film and the war not just a terrible vision (that is, an inversion of the

rally accepted reading), what are the dreams and what do they
Signi? Are they Ivan's own dreams, recollections of the past, of his
own lost childhood, recalled on his behalf by the author of the fl?
Apart from certain points of congruence, they are apparently not
Tarkovsky's own childhood memories. Are they Galtsev's visualisa­
tion of Ivan's youth? Or are they the product of that merging of
identities that was later to become a central feature of Tarkovsky's
work? If these visions are meant to be, i an immediate sense, Ivan's
own dreams, there are evident inconsistencies of time and state.
The difficulty would seem in part to lie in the use of the word
36 Andrei Tarkovsky
'dream', which i how Tarkovsky referred to them. Al four of them
can probably more accurately be described as the dire�or' s visi�

ary reconstcton of moments of (Ivan's) childhood mmgled _lth
his own experiences. Essentially they are an evocation of an 1deal
state, a search for a time lost, the creation of a counter-world to the
one in which we live. That was Tarkovsky's life-long aim and what
he saw as the fnction of the arst, the stggle of Rublyov. I that
sense, too, the conjug up of Dvzhenko-like images of the flness
of the earth are not merely an afectonate homage but an essay at
paradise. The naive image of the lttle gl presenting Ivan with the
apples may also be understood in part i this context. Conver�ely,
the scenes of war are characterised by waste, barren earth, by rumed
widmills and broken agricultural equipment. Tarkovsky sees the
artist not merely as an explorer of life but as a cr

ator.2 I� was
through the eyes of a child that he sought access to this world m Te
Mirror; and a similar perspective i adopted in many of the la�er
f-in the child-lke vision of the stalker, for example, of Domerco
in Nostalgia or Alexander in Te Sacrifce. The sleeping, drealing
child is a recr g image in h fs, the startg point and end of
many of h interior joureys.
The protest of the Soviet flm authorities over these dream se­
quences betrays a misunderstanding of the nature of the film and
Tarkovsky' s itentons, an inabity to recognse the alterative wo
he created - this 'topia of freedom and abundance'.24 The l�ft-�g
reactions to Ivan's Childhood after its showing at the Verce Film
Festival in 1962 were flof the same misunderstandings, accusing it
of formalism and a lack of realism. The film was defended by Jean­
Paul Sartre, however, in an open letter to the Italian Communst
newspaper L'Unita, in which he spoke of an original work of 'Social­
ist surrealism'.2
At the outset of the film Tarkovsky presents a portrait of Ivan, his
face behind a cobweb in a tree. The camera rises up the tall, slender
stem of the tree, unfolding a view of a grassy, wooded, sunlit land­
scape. At the end of the film this opening sequence is recalled in the
waring image of the charred and withered tree. This motif forms
Ivan's Childhood 37
the frame and point of reference not merely of Ivan's Childhood,
Tarkovsky's frst fll-length f. It spans hs entire creative lie,
reappearing in his fal work, Te Sacrifce. Here, again, at the very
outset the camera rises up the tree of life in Leonardo's picture of the
Adoration of the Magi, leading into the story of the monk that
Alexander tells his son and into the parallel image of the planting of
the withered stem. At the close of the fm, in the fnal sequence of
Tarkovsky's cuvre, the motif returs, the camera again rising up the
stem of the tree that father and son have planted and that, although
still bare, may with patience and hope be summoned to life.
Tarkovsky's theory of f and the stylistic featres that came to
be identifed with h over the years were clearly formulated in
Ivan's Childhood. Many of his familiar iconographic images - horses,
apples, water, (the four elements), the sensation of flying - are al­
ready present. At the beginning of h career, this flm signalled his
extraordinary artistic and technical mastery.
Tarkovsk's use of music and sound in f was ultimately to
become one of his most personal contributions to the cinema.
Throughout h work a gradual process of refement occurs: the use
of conventional background music recedes and a complex layer of
sounds comes to assume a signifcance rivalling that of the pictures.
I Te Sacrifce the occasional use of music i generated fom within
the film, out of the action. I the same way Tarkovsky uses the
gramophone record in Ivan's Childhood: Chaliapin singing an old
Russian song, 'Masha may not cross the river', a song that antici­
pates the melancholy strains of Nostalgia. In Ivan's Childhood the song
i played on three occasions, twice before the soldiers set out on
expeditions across the river (the second of which i to be Ivan's fal
jouey); and on the thid occasion, when Masha herself enters to
bid the men farewell and the needle sticks in the groove of the
record. Tarkovsky does not achieve the rigorous aesthetic of his later
flms here. Conventional background music provides a commentary
to a number of the scenes, and in particular to the idyllic dream
sequences. But the use of music is restrained, and Tarkovsky's uni­
verse of sounds is already present in an embryonic form.
The use of lighting as an atmospheric medium is also evident - in
the expressionistic chiaroscuro effects of the church cellar or the
sunlit scenes of childhood. Tarkovsky employs documentary mater­
ial as a further layer of reality in his flm, as he was later to do in
Te Mirror. There is indeed an obvious relationship between the
Andrei Tarkovsky
landscapes of war in the Dnieper swamps of Ivan's Childhood and �e
waters of Lake Sivash through whch the Russian troops march m
The Mirror.
I the mcrocosm that was Ivan's world lies the macrocosm of the
world at large. A master of detail, Tarkovsky's vision was uni
It embraced man's understandig of himsel and his place m the
cosmos, the physical and the metaphysical. Ivan's Childhood, his fir�t
major work, was an anti-war f; and so in certain respects was his
final work, The Sacrifce. Both Ivan and Alexander make great per­
sonal sacrifices in a context of war and on behalf of a better world.
Probably not conscious of this himself, Ivan i the expression of an
idea. Alexander, on the other hand, has reached a state of awareness
of his personal responsibility. Galtsev's words at the end of Ivan's
Childhood, Was that the last war on this earth?' - half question, half
exhortaton - are answered in Te Sacrifce when the next world war
breaks out. Alexander's renunciation of all that i precious to h,
his expression of hope in his son and the future, contains a siar
vision to that of Ivan's Childhood. With the tree of life Tarkovsky's
work comes full ccle.
Andrei Rublyov
We hve had our own mission . . . . Te Tartars did not dare cross
our wester fontiers and so leave us in their rear. They retreated
towards their deserts and Christian civilisation was sav
d . . .
Alexander Pushkin
In the early fifteenth century - the period in which the fl is set -
the Russian principalities lay on the very edge of Europe. Divided by
rivalry and feuds between the various rulers, these principalities
were open to attack from the Tartar hordes from the south and
east. To the west, the dominant East European power was Poland­
Lithuania. It was a tme of political and cultural upheaval. The late
Middle Ages were witnessing the first str gs of the Renaissance
and new ideas of political unit, which were ultimately to lead to the
formation of a modem Russian state that would come to challenge
the supremacy of its wester neighbour in the fifteenth century.
A united Pricipality of Russia had last existed in the twelfth
century.1 It fnally collapsed in 1 139. Among the smaler principal­
ities into which it disintegrated, Kiev continued to enjoy a certain
pre-emience for a time. But after 1169 any claims to !ational lead­
ership passed to the Price of Suzdal, who sacked Kiev in that year
and built himself a new capital in Vladimir. The continuing feuds
between the ruling princes not merely prevented any move towards
unity; they exposed the land to Mongol attacks. In 1223 the Mongols
defeated the south Russian princes and established the Khanate of
the Golden Horde in the Volga basin. From here, under the leader­
ship of Batu Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan, the Mongols, or
Tartars as they were generally known in Europe, proceeded to over­
rn the Principality of Vladimir to the north in 1238 and Kiev and the
south Russian principalities in 1240. Although the city of Vladimir
40 Andrei Tarkovsky
never really recovered from its sack by the Mongols in 1��7, �he
Principality of Vladimir was to become the focus o� r�urfc

and Russian identity. The title Grand Prince of Vladur remamed
the seal of leadership in north-east Russia/ and the princes of Mos­
cow and Tver vied for this title for a long time.
Moscow, first mention of which was made in 1 147, ultimately
established itself as the capital of the principality by the end of the
fourteenth century. From here Ivan I (1328-1) began to draw to­
gether the various territories that would come to form a fture
Russia (a process known as 'the gatherig of the Russian lands'). �
1326 the metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church moved his
seat from Vladimir to Moscow, lending further weight to the claims
of that city.
In the course of the fourteenth century areas to the west (Belorussia)
and to the south-west (Kiev and the Ukraine) managed to free them­
selves from Tartar rule and joined forces with the Principality of
Lithuania. Interal feuds among the Tartars and their defeat in 1380
by Demetrius Donskoi on the Kulikovo Polye (Field of Snipes)3 on
the Don signalled the limits rather than the end of their powers at
that time, however. (In 1381 they succeeded in capturing Moscow
itself, although this did not diminish the leading role that city play�d
in the development of a national identity.) On Donskoi's death m
1389, his eldest son Vassili I (1389-1425) became Grand Prince of
Moscow and Vladimir.
It was on these foundations that the state of Russia was built
in the later fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries. Under Ivan li
(1462-1505) and his successor Vassili II (1505-33) political unifi­
cation was achieved.4 Novgorod was conquered by Russian forces
between 1471 and 1478, Tver in 1485, Pskov in 1510 and Ryazan in
1520. In 1480 the domination of the Tartars was finally broken. In
1494 the struggle with Poland-Lithuania began for the Russian areas
to the west. These territorial conquests and ambitions were consoli­
dated by dynastic marriages and the Grand Prince of Moscow's
claims to be sole protector of orthodoxy of belief and heir to the
Byzantine Empire.5
Despite their long period of domination, the Tartars left relatively
few traces in Russia. They remained foreign invaders, even though
many of them were Shamanists or Christians and only tured to
Islam in the early fourteenth century. Their most lasting influence on
modern Russia lay in their economic and military policies and per­
haps in the autocratic form of goverment to which the Muscovite
Andrei Rublyov 41
prces resorted; although this might equally be attributed to the
Byzantine conception of imperial authority.
The outline story of Andrei Rublyov was written and first submitted
to the Soviet authorities in 1961, before Tarkovsky had flmed Ivan's
Childhood, in which he salvaged a fellow director's project. Andrei
Rublyov can therefore be regarded, in concept at least, as a maiden
work and Tarkovsky' s frst independent flm. It was completed in
1966, in which year the director was only 3. The flm is the quite
astonishing achievement of a young man still at the beginning of his
career, a work full of youthful impulse and vigour, and an undis-
puted masterpiece.
The flm can be viewed on a number of levels: as a depiction of a
period of Russian history in which the foundations of a united state
were laid and a sense of national identity was beginning to emerge;
as a portrait of the icon painter Andrei Rublyov in his times; as the
chronicle of a search for belief and a universal brotherhood of man in
God through the idea of the Trinity; and as an examination of the
role of the artist in society.
Andrei Rublyov is divided ito two parts, narrated in eight largely
self-contained episodes or chapters that take place at various inter­
vals of time over a quarter of a century. Often only loosely related to
each other in content, these chapters are linked mainly by the con­
tinuing presence of Rublyov himself. Filmed in black and white,
they are framed by a prologue and an epilogue, the latter in colour,
showing details of Rublyov' s icons and fescos.
Prologe The flight of a peasant in a balloon.
Pa 1 Te Mummers, 1400 The three monks and icon painters
(Rublyov, Kyrill and Daniil) set out on their jourey.
They take refuge from the rain in a bam, where a peasant
is entertaining the people with his foolery. He is beaten
unconscious and taken off by horsemen of the Grand
Teophanes the Greek, 1405 Kyrll meets the famous Greek
icon painter Theophanes. Kyrill's vanity and his envy of
Andrei Tarkovsky
Rublyov, whom Theophanes fnally invites to become
his assistant.
The Passion according to Andrei, . 1406 The moral dia­
logue of Rublyov and Theophanes. A Russian Passion of
Christ on the Cross in the snow.
The Feast, 1408 Rublyov stumbles upon a heathen Mid­
summer Night's celebration.
The Lst Judgement, Summer 1408 Rublyov's reluctance
to depict the Last Judgement on the walls of the cathe­
dral. The blinding of the masons.
Te Assault, 1408 The sackig of the city of Vladimir by
the Tartars and the brother of the Grand Prince.
Te Silence, 1412 Rublyov's years of silence. Famine in
The Bell, 1423 The casting of the great bell.
Epiloge Rublyov' s frescos and icons.
Facts relating to the life and work of Andrei Rublyov are relatively
few. He was bor probably between 1360 and 1370. He died c.1430.
He became a monk relatively late in life, serving first at the mo

tery of the Trinity St Sergi us in Zagorsk and later at the Androniko
Monastery on the outskirts of Moscow.6 One of the few auth

cated facts about his life is that he was an assistant to the famous 1con
painter Theophanes the Greek - a relatio

ship th

plays an import­
ant role in the f. Trained in the Byzantine trad1t1on, Rublyov was
one of the great masters of Russian painting. He ca

e to devel

p �n
identifiably Russian style, infsed with a humamsm that distin-
guishes his work from that of earlier masters?
The film takes up Rublyov's life in 1400. Desp1te the lack of
biographical data, Tarkovsky managed to �ind � co

vincing �alance
between documentary reconstruction and 1magmat1ve scenano. The
authors - Tarkovsky himself and Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky
Andrei Rublyov 43
- went to great lengths to study source material and paint a convinc­
ing pictre of early feenth-century Russia. O the other hand,
Tarkovsky was anxious to avoid all trace of antiquated exoticism,
whether in the form of costume, manner of speech or general mileu.
H aim was to explore the psychology of creative activity through
the person of Rublyov and to show how Rublyov's 'riity' was
inspired by an ideal of brotherhood and love in times of dissension.8
He wished to achieve a 'physiological' truth that went beyond mere
archaeological or ethnographic authenticity.9 This he achieved by
relatively simple means; a timeless, minimal design, so to speak, in
the form of the plain white walls of a cathedral, the rough timber
interiors of log huts, or the monks' simple habits. For the outdoor
scenes, the endless plains of Russia provided scope enough for such
a panorama. The face of the land may indeed be seen to play one of
the leading roles in the f.
Tarkovsky's historical epic describes the birth of a nation. Still
on the border between heathenism and Christianity, the Russian
principalities witness the emergence of new national goals: the ter­
mination of interecine feuding between the princes; the end of
subjection to the Tartar invaders; and the consolidation of territories.
Numerous references and appeals occur in the f to a Russian
awareness, from the simple solidarity of the peasants in 'The Mum­
mers' chapter at the begng, to the proud consecration of the bell
before the foreign guests. 'Brother, what are you doing? We're Rus­
sians too,' a defender of Vladimir cries to a Russian-Tartar invader.
After Rublyov has killed a man in defence of the deaf-mute girl, he
confesses to a vision of Theophanes: 'I killed a man - a Russian'; and
later: 'I have nothing more to say to man. Our Russia - it has to
endure everything', to which the spectre of the Greek replies that it
will probably always have to suffer.
One recalls the reference in The Mirror to Pushkin's letter, i
which the poet described how Russia had formed a barrier for
Christian Europe against the Tartar hordes. Here, in the early
fifteenth century, the Russian idea is stll betryed by feuding princes.
Here are all the circles of Dante's hell in terms of torture and cruelty.
Whereas in Ivan's Childhood Tarkovsky was not interested in portray­
ing actual scenes of combat or complicated front operations, in Andrei
Rublyov his ideas for the direction of the Tartar attack were devel­
oped in great detail.
In describing this phase of the emergence of modem Russia,
Tarkovsky also drew a number of parallels to our own age, particu-
4 Andrei Tarkovsk
larly in the sufferings of the people under foreign occupation and
domestic autocracy. For Tarkovsky, historic events and personal
experience had little valdity on thei own. Throughout his work he
drew comparisons between the past and our own ties and sought
the universal in the particular.10 The viewer is constantly stimulated
to contribute his or her own interpretation of events, whether in
seeking analogies across time between the medieval Mongol inva­
sions and German aggression in the twentieth century, between the
violence with which the feuding Russian princes ruled and the ex­
cesses of Stalinism, or between the vision of the Last Judgement and
the havoc wrought by the Tartar hordes. Boriska's final triumph is a
celebration of a new spiit and signals the end of foreign oppression
in Russia - in the symbolic relief of St George, one of the great
martyrs of the Easter Church, cast in the wall of the bell.
Andrei Rublyov begins with a prologue 'in the heavens'11 and ends
among the angels and the heavenly host of Rublyov' s paintings.12
The flm describes a path from dissension to unity, fom the fall of
man to the Last Judgement and ultimate resurrection. It points to a
unity beyond that of mere national, political interests, to the unity
of the Holy Trinity and the brotherhood of man. The Holy Trinity,
the basic mystery of Christianity, in which three beings (Father, Son
and Holy Ghost) are unted in a single nature (God), is a recurring
theme in Andrei Rublyov. Harmony between man (faith, hope, char­
ity) was one of Tarkovsky's central preoccupations. Direct reference
to this is made in the scene of Rublyov' s iterview with the Grand
Prince, for example,13 and in the epilogue to the f one sees details
of Rublyov's masterpiece, the 'Old Testament Trinity'/4 with the
three angels.15
In its content this icon conforms to the typical treatment of the
theme, which usually contained a depiction of three angels seated
about a table beneath an oak tree with the house of Abraham in the
background (often with depictions of Abraham and Sarah as well,
although Rublyov did not paint them in his work).16 The cosmic
unity implicit in this idea of a Holy Trinity transcending time and
belief is echoed by Tarkovsky's own search for universality in spe­
cific details and by the various aspects of the theme of unity he
Andrei Rublyov 45
attempts to l in this f» He parallels the idea of the Trinity, for
example, in the loose outward constellation of the three monks who
set out fom the Andronikov Monastery at the beginning.
The same triadic constellation is to be found in other works by
Tarkovsky, too in Solaris (the three men in the space station) and
even more notably in Stalker, where the stalker himself, the scientist
and the writer set out on their quest into the Zone. The parallels
between Andrei Rublyov and Stalker are stg, for ultimately the
search in the later film is also a quest for belief. The three men stop
on the threshold of the mystery, the room in which one's inmost
wishes are fulfled. The intellectuals are unwilling to believe or to
put their belief to the test. They lose themselves in indecision - to
which Rublyov himself also succumbs for a time in h despair. The
three monks in Andrei Rublyov, in contrast, are not so tightly bound
to each other. They separate and go their own ways; two of them
disappear from sight for much of the film.
Tarkovsky's essay at a human trinity in these three figures re­
mains sketchy. But his concer for the ideal of 'brotherhood, love
and reconciling faith'17 i clearly stated, and Andrei Rublyov is an
ambitious attempt to comprehend the theme at a number of levels.
Unity remains a central idea of the f rather than its structural
principle - the unity of Russia and the unity of man through the
Holy Trinity.
The prologue to the film opens with an image of a cathedral and the
preparations of a peasant who is about to launch himself from the
roof, slung in a haress beneath an improvised balloon of skins.
Harassed by people on the ground who want to cut the balloon loose
prematurely or prevent h flight altogether, the peasant sails away
precipitately over a broad landscape of medieval Russia. A pan­
orama of fields and rivers and settlements unfolds beneath him.
Scarcely in a position to take it all in, in his precarious state, he is
nevertheless conscious of one supreme fact - he is flying. The flight
comes to a sudden, violent end. The balloon lies smoking on the
ground, its vapour expiring into the water.
This passage does not merely set the scene and introduce the
Russian land and the cathedraP8 - two major locations of the film.
Andrei Tarkovsky
Like Boriska' s bel or Rublyov' s frescos at the end, like the act of
artistic creation itself, the flight of the peasant is both a striving for
the unattainable and an act of belief. In attempting to fly, he sets
himself above man and reaches up to God. The camera follows the
ascent of the balloon fomabove the roof of the cathedral, adopting
a God-like vantage point ('in the heavens'). Tarkovsky enables the
viewer to share the sensual experience of flying by means of a
subjective camera flight. Instead of seeing the man in the air from a
camera on the ground, the sensaton of flight is described through
the eyes of the peasant (the cine eye), the camera itself gliding over
�and dale and coming to the same sudden stop as the balloon
Itself at the end. Despite the violent and probably fatal outcome of
�his flight, the momentary sense of elation i underlined by the
rmage of a horse rolling on its back in joy at the end of this sequence .
. The phenomenon of flight is a common motif of Tarkovskys
fs. It occurs in many forms, fom the free, idyllic camera fght at
the beginning of Ivan's Childhood to the acts of levitation in many of
the later films. The balloon episode in Andrei Rublyov is taken up
again in the documentary scenes of The Mirror and in the pictures of
balloons hanging on the wall in Solaris. In Andrei Rublyov, however,
the act of flying, as well as suggestig a liberation fom the force of
gravity and earthly oppression, has an ideal, heavenly aspect. The
God-like view of the world (often achieved after a pull-back of the
amera) can be seen as a specific feature of the camerawork in this
f�. The camera assumes a position above events on many occa­
Sions: not only in the opening balloon sequence, but at the close of
t�e midsummer revels; during the 'Last Judgement' chapter (the
fiel of flowers, the blinding of the workmen); during the sack of
Vladimir, when two white birds flutter down from the church roof;
and on a number of occasions during the bell-casting chapter.
Tarkovsky used this view from above to reveal a vast prospect and
set details in perspective, much as painters used the panorama in the
past. The God-like view is perhaps also that of the artist.
The idea of the God-like status of the artst is nothng new. Through
the act of creation God and the artist have certain things in common,
the artist creating an alterative reality, a counter-design to the
existing reality of this world. Tarkovsky saw art as an instrument
against materialism, as the embodiment of the ideal. For him, artistic
discovery (insight) took the form of a new and unique image of the
world, 'a hieroglyphic of absolute truth', manifesting itself as a 'rev­
elation, a momentary, passionate wish to grasp intuitively and at a
Andrei Rublyov 47
stroke all the laws of this world'. He went on to describe art as a
symbol of this world.19
In order to understand a work of art, one must be prepared to
trust the artist, to believe (in) him. Just as faith in God demands a
special spiritual disposition so a belief in the artist demands a special
state of mind. But it was not enough simply for an audience to
believe in an artist to gain access to h world. Above all, the artist
had to believe in himself to be able to create this world in the first
place. Tarkovsky saw artstic creation as the only selfless activity of
man and speculated whether our ability to create was not in itself
evidence of our being created i 'the image and likeness of God' .
For Tarkovsky, the artist's belief in himself was only conceivable in
the context of his faith in God; the act of creation as part of God's
Creation. There could be no sense of rivaly between the two. I that
respect Tarkovsky probably had more in common with the monk
Rublyov than with the modem image of the artist as personifed by
The central idea of Andrei Rublyov i that an artist can only give
expression to the moral ideal of his age if he is prepared to share the
sufferings of that age himself.21 That is why it was important for the
monk to set out from the protecton of the monaster at the begin­
ning of the flm, to go out ito the world of his fellow men, the
Russian people. For most of the flm Rublyov remains a passive
observer, characterised more by non-participation and procrastina­
tion than a readiness to intervene. In fact, his doubt and despair at
the cruelty of the world around him drive him to ever greater with­
drawal. O the one occasion when he does actively intervene - to
save the deaf-mute girl from the raiders in the church - he kills a
man, a circumstance that merely serves to intensify his despair. He
thereupon retreats into silence and the total rejection of creative
Although his experience of the everyday crelty of the outside
world is in itself benumbing, part of Rublyov's dilemma is that,
unlike Theophanes, he is not merely an artist but a monk. The
silence and withdrawal that may be appropriate to his religious
office represent a denial of his artistic powers. This conflict is, of
course, a modem preoccupation of the film and not the situation in
which Rublyov would have found himself so distinctly i the fif­
teenth century. Although he took religious orders relatively late in
life, the concept of the artist as such was to emerge fully only later
with the coming of the Renaissance and Humanism. The medieval
48 Andrei Tarkvsky
artist worked in a workshop with assistants and apprentices and
saw himself perhaps more accurately as a master craftsman working
at a trade.
Although Tarkovsky takes Rublyov as the central figure of his
f, the monk is not the only character through which the role and
the fate of the artist in his tmes are depicted. In their own ways the
entertaining buffoon and the masons are more directly caught up in
events, to which Rublyov is merely a witness.
Three generations of artists are encountered here: the patriarchal
figure of Theophanes who represents the old order; Rublyov, t�e
representative of a new humanist spirit and tie dawning Ren�ls­
sance; and Boriska, the embodiment of a quite d1fferent type of artist,
the modem young man of wild, impulsive energy. Theophanes'
view of the world is that of an Old Testament prophet, inspired by a
God of wrath and retribution. He is convinced of man's weakness,
his guilt and stupidity, and h inability to change himself. If Christ
were to retur to earth, he remarks, He would be crucified again.
Rublyov and his work reveal a new sense of compassion with the
people and an awareness of their sufferings and the ijustice done to
them. His vision finds immediate expression in Tarkovsky's re­
creation of a Russian Passion in the snow. Only after the sack of
Vladimi does Rublyov abandon his ideas in despair, telling the
ghost of Theophanes of his disappointment and admitting that the
Greek had been right in his judgement. 'I have nothing more to say
to man.' But Theophanes has modified h own views (posthumously)
and now admires the qualities of Rublyov' s charred paintigs on the
walls of the cathedral.
The relationship between Rublyov and Boriska might be com­
pared with that between Alexander and Little Man in Te Sacrifce.
One generation hands on its responsibilities to the next. I Boriska
lies the hope for the fture. Just as Theophanes had taken Rublyov as
his assistant and come to recognise the personal genius of his succes­
sor, so Rublyov is moved by the youthful spirit of the bell caster.
'Together we shall go to the Troiza monastery -you to cast bells; I to
paint icons', Rublyov says at the close. It is Boriska who sho_s
Rublyov that silence and withdrawal are not the tools of the creative
being. Above all, Boriska's belief in himself triumphs over all doubt
- his own and that of those about him. Rublyov comes to see that the
artist' s only response to the abjection of the human condition is the
creative act, the creation of ideals and an alterative reality, towards
Andrei Rublyov
which man may strive. Boriska demonstrates that knowledge or
artistic isight - even feigned knowledge, which through fortune or
faith may become real knowledge -is power. The secrets of the artist
bestow on him a power even over the authorities he serves; but this
power also imposes on him a burden of responsibility towards his
fellow men.
Boriska's bell, like the bell motif in Ivan's Childhood,2 is a token of
the triumph of belief - here, the artist's belief in his idea, in himself
(and ultimately belief in God) - which is awakened in Rublyov like
a phoeni from the ashes. Significantly, the transitional image link­
ing Boriska's deeds with the resurgence of Rublyov's creative will,
linking the scenes of the blasted Russian land and the final colour
sequences of Rublyov' s paintings, are the still-smouldering embers
of a fire on which the camera focuses.
At the time Tarkovsky made the f, his own artistic position,
although scarcely in doubt, was still in a process of formulation. But
the diffculties he was to encounter, and that ultimately led to his
voluntary exile, have their beginnings in this film.
'I have never understood . . . attempts to construct mise en scene from
a paintig', Tarkovsky wrote.2 Despite h rejection of parallels be­
tween painting and cinema, his flms abound in images and conven­
tions derived from the visual arts, and Andrei Rublyov is certainly no
exception. As one might expect in a film about at artist, there is a
discussion of painting, of the use of colour and perspective, particu­
larly in the dialogues between Rublyov and Theophanes, which
reflect their individual preoccupations at the waning of the Middle
Ages and the dawning of the Renaissance in Russia. In most of his
films Tarkovsky used a palette of familiar motifs, many of which
were borrowed from painting. Frequent reference is made, for exam­
ple, to the four elements - related to the four temperaments of man
and, as a token of the source of all life and the form to which it will
return, a common vanitas theme.
Ruined churches and reconstruction, part of the iconographic
tradition of painting denoting the destruction of the Old Temple and
the building of the new, are as common a feature of Andrei Rublyov
50 Andrei Tarkvsky
as they are of most Tarkovsky films. But Andrei Rublyov is centrally
concered with these ultimate matters - with the Last Judgement
and the Resurrection.
That the film should exhibit a high visual quality and picture
composition inspired by painting is nothng remarkable; nor is the
fact that many of the scenes seem to be directly inspired by the
paintigs of Rublyov himself, of Pieter Bruegel and others. Associa­
tions of this kind exist in the other fils as well.24 In the epilogue
Rublyov's own works are allowed to speak for themselves. Their
inclusion, however, illustrates two other aspects of Tarkovsky's ci­
ema that are to be found in the tradition of old master painting: the
concept of the synchronism of time, and the related idea of biblical
prefiguration. Tarkovsky not merely paralleled the events of one age
with those of another or made allusions across time. In best painting
tradition he uses shg chronologies or juxtaposes simultaneously
within a common context events that take place at diferent times. By
prefguration i meant the anticipation in the Old Testament of events
that take place in the New Testament.2 Here it may be seen in the
idea of pendant Old and New Testament Trinities, for example.
One of the main preoccupatons of the fm is the transience of life
and the futility or vanity of human endeavour. The vanitas idea was
a central theme of the old masters and gave rise to a whole genre of
painting. It derived its name from the Vanitas Vanitatum passage in
Ecclesiastes. 26 The flm abounds in vanitas motifs, tokens of death in
the midst of life - from the abortive attempt of the peasant to fly and
steal the fre of the gods, to the sack of Vladimr, and the recurrig
acts of senseless crelty inficted on the people. Tarkovsky also used
the specific visual code of vanitas paintng in this film. Here are the
same tokens of decay in freshness, the ret of all matter to earth
and the four elements. The but-dow candles, the books on the
wall, the quenched flme, i the scenes in which Rublyov takes his
leave of Kyrill and Daniil; the tree roots, the saturated earth, the
snake in the water, the ants swarming over Theophanes's legs, and
the dead white bird with the beetle that Foma fnds in the mud in the
scenes with the Greek in the wood; and the rotten apples in 'The
Silence' chapter are all memento mori motifs commonly used in
Tarkovsky parallels these motifs in the dialogue. In a crucial scene
after Theophanes has sent to invite Rublyov and not Kyrill to join
him, one sees the latter alone in a workshop musing over icons. In a
long monologue, spoken off, as if expressing K yrill' s thoughts aloud,
Andrei Rublyov
the words ' al is vanity . . . ' are heard. K yrill has insight, but not the
power to overcome h own weakness of character. Instead of admit­
tng hs failings, he attbutes them to mankind in general. At the
close of the scene he wets his hand and extinguishes the flame of a
torch with it.
I the scenes in the wood, too, the visual motifs are echoed in the
dialogue between Theophanes and Rublyov, when the latter re­
marks that 'all i vanity and transience'. Similarly, in the cathedral
after the Tartar assaut, Rublyov in his delirium encounters the ghost
of Theophanes. Rublyov capitulates in the face of the destrction
about h and swears that he wl never paint again. No one needs
his work, he says. But Theophanes pertinently asks, admiring
Rublyov's paintings on the walls of the cathedral, whether this dis­
�vowal of creative activity is not an act of pride and vanity in itself,
JUSt because they burt your paintgs?'; and he goes on to tell
Rublyov that he is taking a great sin upon himself in not painting.
For Rublyov the greater sin lies in the fct that he has killed a man.
Rublyov' s earlier reluctnce to depict the horors of the Last Judge­

ent, to be a tool of boyar repression, seems to fnd its justication
Î the desecrated cathedral. The smearng of the white wall with dirt
is paralleled by the charred fragments of his paintings in the later
ene -both vanitas motifs in themselves. Shocked by h own act of
VIOlence as much as by that of the invaders, Rublyov has no wish to
communicate with man, either verbally or through his pictures.
The fact that the vanitas images occur most fequently in the
passages that have to do with the painter's view of the world
through his work suggests that they are not there by chance.
Tarkovsky takes his preoccupation with the process of painting a
stage further, however, creating tableaux-like scenes in his own
During the dialogue in the wood, when Theophanes insists that
man is weak and incapable of change, as i to underline his argument
he states that, i Chist were to ret to earth, He would be crucified
again. Almost without transition one sees this assertion enacted. The
manner in which Tarkovsky stages this Passion scene suggests that
it is a statement on a different plane from the basic narrative and
historical time i which the story is set, a visualisation of a passion
play projected from the discussion in the wood. One sees a strip of
cloth floating in the water and then the figure of Christ drinking
from the stream. A column of people walks single file in the snow,
Christ bearing a wooden cross up a hill. At the same time the discus-
Andrei Tarkovsky
sion of the weakness of man continues of. Mary Magdalene clutches
the leg of Christ in anguish. The cross is raised on the �. The
viewer is not a witness to the Crucifixion itself (even Withn the
arciality of flm), but to a re-enactment of it in the form of a set
piece staged with a deliberate gesture of pathos, a kind of Brechtian
alienation. Even the nails, prominently displayed in the snow, are
like painterly attributes found in traditional depictions of the �ruci­
fxion. The scene has a tableaux-like quality, as Rublyov hiself
might have painted it, here created (on his behalf) by Ta�ko�sky.
Transported to the everyday life and topograp�y of Russia,
�t be­
comes a Russian Passion in the snow27 - 'accordmg to Andrei , the
name the icon painter and the flm director shared. The central
'Passion' of this chapter is set in a kind of parenthesis with evidently
painterly allusions framing it off from the rest of the narrative. The
episode opens with the picture of the flowig stream with a cloth
floating in it.28 It closes with a shot of a weed-flled river in which
Foma is washing brushes (brushes with which Rublyov might have
painted this scene), the paint fom them clouding the water.
The motif of the stream clouded with paint appears on other occa­
sions in the flm. It occurs after the blinding of the masons, when
Rublyov's apprentice Sergei dips his hand ito the water and one
sees a white liquid pouring from an overtured flask. It is used ag

when Foma is killed and falls-in slow motion-into the stream. Like
the single, feathery flakes of snow that fall into the cathedral, the
motif of the stain in the water would seem to have a parenthetic
purpose, framing off actions that take place on different planes or at
different times.
The shifts of plane that were to become such a distinctive feature
of Tarkovsky' s later style were an expression of his understanding of
time and the way it is perceived, the contiguity of memory, dream,
vision and actual experience in a person's mind. In Andrei Rublyov he
already attempted to articulate this concept; but the director had not
yet fully developed a cinematographic technique to differentiate the
various times and states of consciousness between which he moves.
The film is shot almost entirely in black and white, a remarkable
concession on the part of the authorities for a work of such epic scale
Andrei Rublyov 53
and one for which Tarkovsky had to fght with his usual uncompro­
mising determination. Although he was to remain convinced of the
advantages of black and white photography all his life, by adhering
to it here he deprived himself of one of the most direct means of
differentiating visually between dream and reality and h different
worlds and times.
Andrei Rublyov is not an ongoing historical narrative. Its already
episodic form is broken by many further shifts of plane. There are
passages where Tarkovsky evidently steps outside his panorama of
Russian history to comment on it fom another vantage point. In
some cases these passages are distinguished by light-dark contrasts;
in others he uses a faming device, as in the Passion scenes. O other
occasions the edges are blurred and it is diffcult to tell whether a
particular episode should be read as part of the central chronological
narrative or as removed to a different plane. The faming elements of
prologue and epilogue themselves are evidently not part of the
immediate historcal continuity of the flm. The fact that they are the
only undated sections and that the epilogue switches to colour and
present time are evidence of this. The prologue serves to set the
I the chapter of the sack of Vladimir there are two clearly in­
serted flashbacks, when the younger Russian prince recalls the oath
of allegiance and concord he had been forced to swear to his brother,
the Grand Prince, in the cathedral. In the first, one sees the two
brothers as they meet and enter the church. In the second, the prince
remembers how he was made to kiss the Cross before his brother
and the metropolitan; and how his brother had trodden on his toes
during their embrace of amity, as if to impress upon him in which of
them power was really vested. Tarkovsky distinguishes both these
scenes by flming them in an atmosphere of subdued, shadowy
The scenes of Rublyov' s interview with the Grand Prince, in con­
trast, are almost over-exposed, with bright light flooding the white
walls of the ruler's house. White predominates here. The chronology
within this chapter of the film is ambiguous. Rublyov' s relaxed
discussion of his commission seems more likely to have taken place
prior to the opening scene, by which time Rublyov has been in
Vladimir for two months and everyone is complaining of his inactiv­
ity. Foma, his assistant, eventually gathers up his brshes and leaves
to work on a commission elsewhere, and the representative of the
metropolitan wars that the complaints about Rublyov's delay will
5 Andrei Tarksk
be taken to the Grand Prince. It is unlkely that the playful scenes
between Rublyov and his patron's children or Rublyov' s interview
with the Grand Price hiself take place during this period of art­
istic crisis. The passage makes greater sense if it is read as a flashback
to a happier time, when Rublyov had been awarded the commission.
The transition into these scenes is of bewilderig simplicity. From
the unpaited cathedral, where everyone is waiting for Rublyov to
begin work, the camera simply pans into a different time - as if time
and place were one - and Rublyov is seen playing with the Grand
Prince's daughter. Although this sequence might seem to close with
the shot of Rublyov seated in the doorway examining a panel icon,
whilst single, feathery flakes of snow are fallng, the chronology of
events continues into the following scene. When the masons an­
nounce their intenton to go off to Zvenigorod to work for the brother
of the Grand Prince, the latter issues istructions to his henchmen,
whom one sees shortly afterwards in the wood. It is more likely,
then, that this whole passage of Rublyov's meeting with the Grpnd
Prince ends after the blnding of the masons - with the white liquid
staining the water and the cut back to Rublyov in the church.
The chapter describing the sack of Vladimir bears the date 1408.
Theophanes the Greek, however, died in 1405. Rublyov's discussion
with his former mentor in the cathedral must therefore take place in
the monk's mind. (It is not a flashback, since the scene is set amidst
the devastation left behind by the Tartars. ) Theophanes appears as a
vision or an expression of the delum Rublyov experiences after
witnessing the senseless carage in the cathedral. Tarkovsky resur­
rects the ghost of the Greek without diferentiating h perceptibly
from his earlier living form. ¯ With a hint of reproach, Rublyov even
says: 'You are dead; I'm still alive.' It is to Theophanes (his name
means 'the appearance of God') that Rublyov confesses his sin of
having killed a man and makes his vow of renunciation. This vision
or hallucination is introduced, after Foma's death, by the stain in the
water and a cut to the interior of the cathedral, where one sees a
black cat, the deaf-mute girl plaiting the hair of a dead woman, and
Theophanes poring over the charred leaves of a Bible. The scene is
dissolved again at the end by single flakes of snow falling like white
feathers in the church and by the neighing of the dark horse that has
stumbled inside.
Even more ambivalent in the context of shifts in time or plane is
the chapter of the heathen revels, set in the same year (1408) as 'The
Last Judgement' and 'The Assault' sections, which it precedes in the
Andrei Rublyov
f+ The historic date of this chapter is not important; its position in
the f is, however. A pendant to the Passion, in a sense, it is a
pagan celebration of Midsummer Night, preceding 'The Last Judge­
ment'. I its nature it, too, is a visionary sequence, a noctural
episode, about which Tarkovsk weaves a web of mystery - in the
lightig, i the arcane ceremonies themselves and in Ovchinnikov' s
atmospheric music. What really happens during this night of
Rublyov' s temptation we do not know. Whether he succumbs or
remains the observer he is, for most of the f, is uncertain. A
strange air of unreality hangs over the entire events. Leaving Foma
behind, Rublyov goes off on his own, drawn compulsively to these
mysteries. One hears the song of nightingales and music in the
distance, and sees fes and torches flickering in the woods in the
norther half-light. Birds flutter down fom the trees. A shadowy,
stilt-like fgure moves about in the dusk. Arrested by the heathens as
a hated and hostile monk, Rublyov is threatened with death. A girl,
naked but for a coat of skins, kisses him sensually. For a moment it
seems as i Rublyov responds. The girl releases him fom captivity
and he flees. The f cuts to the following morg. Smoke rises
fom the burt-out fres. Cock crow. One sees slumbering fgures
everywhere, in a scene that might be from 'The Sleeping Beauty'.
Only one old woman is awake, rocking apathetically on a wooden
post and wiping a tear fom her eye.
Rublyov himself seems not to know whether it has been dream or
reality when he returs to his companions waiting by the riverside.
They ask him where he has been, but he does not reply. Only his
scratched face, the burt-out effigy that drifts by in the boat and the
pursuit of the naked heathens by the Grand Prince's horsemen
testif to the reality of the previous night.
The f moves backwards and forwards between quasi-histor­
ical documentation and the re-enactment of artistic creation. The
parallels between the discussions of a Last Judgement painting on
the one hand and the ensuing sack of Vladimir on the other - or the
blinding of the masons, or the Passion on the hill - are examples of
the way historic and artistic reality are contrasted. The fnal transi­
tion to colour and Rublyov's paintings at the end of the film is a
further example of this. As well as representing a jump in content
and technique, it is also a jump in time. Here, the embers of the fire
serve as the transitional motif on which the camera fixes. The paint­
ings we see are amongst the few that have survived the centuries.
The time here is the present, not the fifteenth century, for the paint-
56 Andrei Tarkovsky
ings have peeled and faded, and they reveal the cracks and scars that
nearly six centuries have brought.
Andrei Rublyov opens with what is almost a catalogue of Tarkovskian
motifs. The bell, the act of fying, earth, fire, water, air, the derelct
church, the unbridled horses are all introduced in the prologue. If
many of them were already present in Ivan's Childhood, in Andrei
Rublyov Tarkovsky would seem to patent them for future use. In this
flm, too, the associations conjured by these images seem more ex­
plicit than in his other works and provide a key to their use in his
subsequent career. When the Grand Prince's daughter sprays Rublyov
with milk, for example, he tells her it is a sin to spill milk3 and
affectionately picks her up in his arms. The image of spilt milk recurs
on many other occasions in Tarkovsky's ruvre, down to the final
Sacrifce, when the jug falls from the cupboard and smashes on the
floor during the passing of the low-flying aircraft, like a memory of
childhood. Similarly, in the opening scenes the sequence of a horse
rolling on its back in sheer pleasure at the end of the peasant's flight
is more immediate here than the grazing horses in either Ivan's
Childhood or in the later works.
A remarkable feature of Andrei Rublyov is the associative contrast
between the unbridled horses that move freely about the landscape
and the mounted ones that invariably appear as a token of feudal
power, ridden either by the princes themselves or by their hench­
men. In nearly every case their appearance heralds some act of
repression or violence. The equestrian figure was always a symbol of
wealth and power. What is interestng here, though, is the contrast­
ing role played by unmounted horses, which almost always have
some magical quality about them. They are wild, unbridled crea­
tures of nature. Two of the most haunting scenes in the Vladimir
chapter are when a horse falls from a flight of steps; and, at the very
end, when - the cathedral littered with bodies, the raiders gone - a
solitary horse enters, neighing and causing the deaf-mute girl to
start. There are many other examples of this contrast between eques­
trian power and unbridled nature. At the very close of the film,
recalling the motif of the herd of horses and the animal rolling on its
back in the prologue, Rublyov's frescos (with their own depictions of
Andrei Rublyov 57
horses) give way to scenes of real horses grazing by a river in the
At the end of the flm the bell motif takes up the same triumphant
theme that it had in Ivan's Childhood. In Andrei Rublyov, too, it is an
image of liberation and the triumph of artistic and religious belief.
The signifcance of the motif in this f is indicated at the begin­
�g, during the opening credits, when a bell can be heard ringing
m the background over Ovchn ov's31 subdued musical intro­
duction. The link with the earlier flm is underlined by a further
musical reference in the fnal bell-casting episode, when Boriska
(Kolya Burlyaev, who also played the part of Ivan) is bore away
fom the scene of his labours, sleeping in exhaustion. In a magical
sequence one sees Kyrill and Andrei sheltering under the storm­
tossed oak. As Boriska is carried past, a brief quotation of the gossa­
mer-like music fom the idyllic dream scenes of Ivan's Childhood can
be heard.
In a similar manner, the motif of silence or broken speech that
recurs in many of Tarkovsky's flms represents not merely a means
of escape from the vanity of words. Coupled with it is the notion of
liberation through sacrifce, the overcomng of adverse circtances.
In The Sacrifce, which revolves about the conflict between words and
deeds, Little Man is unable to speak after an operation on his vocal
chords.32 But this silence is not a withdrawal. It leads to an act of faith
- comparable to that of Boriska's in Andrei Rublyov - the planting
and watering of a dead tree that should be wakened to life. In the
prologue to The Mirror a young man is freed of a stutter. 'I can
speak!' he exclaims on being cured, much like the peasant in the
prolo31e of Andrei Rublyov, who cries 'I'm flying! ' The process of
liberation implicit in these examples represents not merely a retur
to words, but the gaining of a new articulacy (artistic, political and
moral), a progression from words to expression. The special poign­
ancy of Rublyov's vow of silence,33 however, lies in the fact that it is
in part the outcome of his intercession on behalf of an innocent
young woman. The demented girl, as she is sometimes regarded, is
in fact a deaf-mute, a heavenly fool who excites h compassion.
The monk's withdrawal from the physical world leads ultimately
to a form of communication beyond words. One recalls Rublyov's
remark to Foma during the journey through the wood with
Theophanes: 'Only through prayer can the soul pass from the visible
to the invisible.'34 Rublyov's renunciation of word and image may be
outwardly consistent with this striving for the invisible; but the
58 Andrei Tarkovsky
attainment of pure spirituality is not to be achieved b
fom life, by passive observation of the horrors of this
orld. �he
final abandonment of his vow of silence marks the end of rmpassiv­
ity in favour of active intervention and a new humanis�. Rublyov
achieves spirituality most convincigly in the power of his work, to
which he (and the f) retur at the end.
In terms of the three unities, Tarkovsky later described Andrei
Rublyov as 'disjoited and incoherent'
3 d

spite pursuing a tech­
nique through whch dream and reality, time an� pl

ce were
become one. The episodic structure of the work denves Its cohes10n
and continuity largely fom the person of Rublyov him

elf, from the
historic context in which the events are set, and from Its measured
but impelling rhythm. As a result of the loose structural fo

f and the often passive role played by Rublyov, there 1 little
character development, not even in the ttle fgure. The tansforma­
tion he does undergo - fom a state of enquiry, to that of doubt, and
to fnal affrmation - takes the form of a series of steps rather than a
gradual process. Also responsible for this impression are the jumps
in time that the film makes.
Kyrill, the literate man whose sche�g intellect stan�s in the
way of his artistic and spiritual vision, IS tormented by bitteress.
In many ways he is the counterpart of Rublyov. 'God


d the
priest, but the devil created the clown', he remarks acidly m the
opening chapter and, as it transpires, goes out to denounce t�e
peasant to the Grand Prince's henchmen. Later he attempts to gam
Theophanes's favours with flattery at Rublyo
's ex

and when
this fnally fails, he leaves the monastery With a bitter tirade. �he
abbot openly reveals his hostility towards K yrill, who co


vehemently about the state of morals in the monas�ery, thro
g his
sack of belongings back towards his fellow monks m rage, spitting at
them and comparing the situation in the monastery to that of the
Temple when Christ evicted the merchants
and mone

Kyrill even beats his own dog to de

th when It f

llows h1m.
Kyrill therewith disappears fom sight for a penod of se�en y�ars.
He returns in 1412 in the penultimate chapter of the film, f he
Silence', reappearing at the monastery during a famine and beggmg
Andrei Rublyov 59
readmission. Older, broken now, he describes how, in these hard
times, he has escaped a pack of wolves by standing all night up to his
neck in icy water. Now he is 'stff and suffering'. He goes on hands
and knees before the abbot, but the latter mistrusts K yrill and orders
him to make 15 transcriptons of the Holy Scriptures as a token of
penance. Kyrill's lack of creativity as an icon painter is driven home
by a copying task he wl never live to complete. But broken as K yl
is, his irascible nature continues to erupt periodicaly, as one sees
some time later, when he recognises Rublyov in the courtyard of the
I the final chapter of the f, 'The Bell, 1423', Kyrll appears
with Rublyov again. One sees them sheltering fom the wind and
rain under a solitary oak tree, K yrill stroking a black bird held in his
hand.37 Later, when the buffoon fom the opening chapter reappears
and threatens Rublyov with an axe for denouncing him all those
years before and for being responsible for the ten years he has rotted
in prison where half his tongue was cut off, Kyrill interenes to
defend his brother monk. He kneels on the ground and begs the
peasant to desist. The latter i suddenly moved to silence, drops the
axe and has no other thought but to end Kyril's supplication by
lg him to hs feet again. The monk subsequently confesses to
Rublyov that it had been he, Kyrill, who had betrayed the man and
that in his heart he had envied Rublyov' s powers. That was why he
had gone away. Now he urges Rublyov not to waste his gifts any
longer. There is not much tie left.
Perhaps Kyrill's entreaties have their efect after all. These and the
pathetic figure of Boriska, exhausted after his own demonstration of
belief in casting the bell, move Rublyov to words - and not merely to
words, but to deeds. The third of the trio of monks, Daniil Chory
(the Black), plays a subordinate role to both Rublyov and Kyrill.
Daniil is a loyal teacher and disciple of Rublyov, cast in the fgure of
a father confessor who is nevertheless capable of momentary resent­
ment when Rublyov is invited to join Theophanes. 'I have no one
apart from you', Rublyov tells him before departing, both men near
to tears. He kisses Daniil' s hand and assures him that he will retur.
(Kyrill is an unobserved witness to this scene.)
Later Daniil accompanies Rublyov on his travels to Vladimir,
where they were to paint the fescos in the Cathedral of the Dormition
of the Virgin (Uspenski Cathedral).38 Daniil is here one of the team of
painters waiting to commence work, but held up for two months by
Rublyov' s crisis of conscience. In a vast field of flowers stretching to
60 Andrei Tarkvsk
the horizon, one sees Daniil urging Rublyov to begin the work Their
scheme for the 'Last Judgement' has been approved, the weather has
been warm and dry - ideal conditions for fresco painting. Daniil
describes in words what he visualises - the angels and the demons
of a vast 'Last Judgement', down to the smoke emerging fom the
devil' s nose. Theophanes had depicted the tragedy and torment of
the human condition. But Rublyov is unwilling to instil fear in the
people with such horrifc visions. I Rublyov' s reluctance to paint
these scenes one may see a refusal of the artist to create the in­
struments of fear of the rulig classes, as well as evidence of the
humanism that was to differentate Rublyov's work from that of his
Greek mentor.39 Thereafter Daniil disappears from the story as well.
During the famine of 1412, in 'The Silence' chapter, one hears that he
is somewhere in the north - 'perhaps dead' .4
The three monks who set out together at the beginnig do not
form a trnity for very long. To a lesser extent some of the other
characters of the flm also provide a degree of continuity between
the individual episodes. The clown who is beaten and carried off by
the Grand Prince's men at the begn g and apparently thrown into
prison for ten years (although 23 years have passed between the frst
and final chapters) reappears at the end i the bell-casting episode.
The deaf-mute girl, Foma, the Grand Prince, the abbot and Theo­
phanes are also lg figures who appear in more than one episode
of the f. But many of the chapters could stand on their own as
self-contained stories, the best example of whch is probably the
imposing fnal secton, 'The Bell'.
Jhe fact that the Grand Prince and h younger brother are played
by the same actor might be seen as an early example of Tarkovsky's
fondness for mergig identities. But for much of the time they ap­
pear in each other's absence and there is no real transposition of
character or even confusion as to thei identities.
Underlying the story and sering to integrate the material in other
directions are the historic parallels the director draws and the ques­
tions of artistic responsibility and belief that he examines. Here, as in
other films by Tarkovsky, female figures are conspicuous by the
limitation of their roles. Again, the idea of sacrifice was to have
appeared in an episode dealing with 'The Field of Virgins' - where,
historically, the Russian women cut off their hair as a ransom to the
Tartars. It was an event of symbolic significance that Tarkovsky had
originally planned to depict in the film. Although it was ultimately
left out, it provides another glimpse of the role in which he saw
Andrei Rublyov
women in his work Three vestigial references to the idea do remain:
in ×ublyov' s direct reference to it in his discussion with Theophanes;
agam, after the Tartar slaughter in the cathedral, when the deaf­
mute girl plaits the hair of a dead woman; and, after the blinding of
the workmen, when Sergei, who has escaped from the wood with his
sight, is told to read from the Bible. He opens it at random and reads
the passage from Corinthians describing man as the image and glor
of God and woman as the glory of man. Women who pray should
have their heads covered - or be shor.41
Women play a subordinate role in the f altogether. The blond,
heathen seductress Marfa, whom Rublyov encounters on St John's
Eve (Midsummer Night), appears only in this chapter and her char­
acter is scarcely defned. A counterpart to her in some respects is the
blond, simple-minded innocent who stumbles into the cathedral
with a bundle of straw, taking refge from the rain, her lip stained
with blood like that of the young girl in Te Mirror. It is she whom
Rublyov rescues during the sack of Vladimi, killing a marauder in
the process; and she reappears (four years later) in the penultimate
chapter, 'The Silence' at the Troiza monastery. Here Rublyov fnally
loses her to the Tartars, who offer her meat in times of famine
(feeding the dogs in the yard with horse meat, whie the people are
starving) and who deck her out in oriental attire. In terms of its
female roles, the only alterative the film offers is between a heathen
seductress and a silent inilocent.
The expectations of the Soviet authorities, who wanted a positive
treatent of the historical aspects of the subject, and the intentions
of the director stood in opposition from the outset. As it transpired,
the authorities did not get the heroic, national epic they expected.
Quite apart from the fact that relatively little is known of Rublyov's
biography, Tarkovsky was not really interested in creating a purely
historical panorama. He sought to relate this period of history to his
own experience and used it as a quasi-documentary background to
his discussion of the artist in search of a meaningful existence.42 It is
not surprising therefore that Andrei Rublyov encountered opposition
in official circles on account of its depictions of cruelty, its lack of
optimism and its problematic form and length.
Andrei Tarkovsk
The film was frst shown in Moscow in 1966, where it met with
considerable acclaim fom the public. Placed on the programme of
the Cannes festival j.1967, it was then withdrawn. At the festival in
Venice in 1968 no Soviet flms were shown, f
llowing the refusal of
the festival director Luigi Chiarini to present any Soviet films if he
could not show Andrei RublyovY Its premiere in the West (after
Tarkovsky had made certain cuts) was in May 1969 at the Cannes
Film Festival, where it was shown outside competition and in the
face of protests from the Soviet authorities. Only in 1973 was Andrei
Rublyov officially released for showing in the West.

'Do you believe in an eternal life in a world to come?'
'No, but I do believe in an eterl life in the here and now.
There are moments when time suddenly stands still
and gives way to eterity.'
Feodor Dostoevsky
For most of the 1960s Tarkovsky was occupied
ith the seemingly
interminable Andrei Rublyov project. It was not until the end of the
decade that he made a serious start on a new work. I 1968 he
approached the studios with an idea for a f based on Stanislaw
Lem's novel Solaris, published in 1961. By 1970 Tarkovsky had pro­
visionally settled most of the questions relating to casting (with the
exception of the role of Harey1), and i the same year he reached a
agreement that the flm would have a length of 2 hours and 20
minutes (4000 metres). By August 1970 he records that work on the
screenplay was stagnating, and in September he refers to the frst
problems with the cast and the crew. The shooting schedule in­
cluded locations in Zvenigorod and in Japan, where Tarkovsky had
originally hoped to flm the World Fair, 'Expo 70'. A application for
1,600,000 roubles was made for the Solaris project (200,000 roubles
more than for Andrei Rublyov).
By the middle of 1971 Tarkovsky was complaining of disputes
with his director of photography Vadim Yusov. Initially, these were
over the choice of lenses for the flm. Tarkovsky wished to reduce
the depth of feld in order to eliminate some of the obtrusive details
of the science fiction decor. Too much of the film, he feared, had been
shot with a 35mm lens. In the course of time the differences with
Yusov became more fundamental and finally led to a complete break
between Tarkovsky and the man who was the director of photogra­
phy of all his films from The Steamroller and the Violin to Solaris.
Tarkovsky also recorded his fears of excessive colour in the film
and his reservations about too many corridors, too much apparatus
6 Andrei Tarkovsky
and technology. In a diary entry dated 11 August 1971 he noted that
he had had enough of Solaris and would be happy to be able to start
a new project. The film was, nevertheless, completed by the end of
the year. After further dificulties in gaing the acceptance of the
authorities/ Solaris was finally approved in February 1972 without
any further objections, after a sudden volte-face by Alexei Romanov,
the chairan of Goskino. It received its premiere in Cannes in May
of the same year. Although it did not make as great an impact as
Tarkovsky's previous fms, it was received in Cannes as an iport­
ant work of modem cinema and was voted best film of the year at
the London Fim Festival. Its Soviet premiere was in Moscow in
February 1973.
Adrift in the cosmos, man is confronted involuntarily with new
knowledge and h own conscience, Tarkovsky wrote about Solaris.3
Research into the planet of that name has been going on for nearly
100 years but has yielded so little concrete information and cost so
many lives that the authorities are now considering abandoning
frther investigation. The most remarkable aspect of Solaris is the
plasma-like, seething, gelatious ocean, which covers almost the
entre surface of the planet and to which certain organic, thg
properties have been attributed. Some observers have compared this
ocean to a primitive, blind cell; other claim that it resembles a vast
brain more complex than terrestrial organisms in its structure.4 Tests
have never produced the same reaction twice to a given stimulus,
rendering scientifc pronouncement a hazardous affair. Indeed, it is
no longer certain whether the remaining scientists in the space la­
boratory are still conducting research into the planet or have them­
selves become the subjects of its own experiments. At all events,
after part of the ocean is illegally subjected to intense bombardment
with X-rays, certain disturbing phenomena are observed, although
on Earth these are dismissed as hallucinations.
The psychologist Chris Kelvin is sent to report on this"situation
and to make recommendations on future research and whether or
not it is worth continuing it. The space station can accommodate 85
persons, but when Kelvin sets out there are only three left, and by
the time of his arrival one of them, Gibarian, has committed suicide.
Solaris 65
The sttion itself i in a state of dilapidation. Wires hang loose from
the equipment; pieces of apparatus litter the corridors, and the
general state of decay seems to have left its mark on the two re­
mainng scientists as well: Snaut, a cybereticist, and Sartorius, a
Son after his arrival at the station, Kelvin comes to experience
the alaring phenomena himself, when the figure of his deceased
wife Harey - who had committed suicide ten years before - re­
appears to h. Harey is no hallucination, as Kelvin soon ascertains
both from conversations with Snaut and Sartorius, and from the fact
that his fellow scientists have thei own 'guests' who exist physically
and are visible not merely to those who involuntarily summon them
but to the others as well. Snaut explains that these visitors are neither
persons nor copies of particular persons, but materialsations that
the ocean seems capable of creating from neutrino particles to match
the images the scientists cary i their minds.
Tarkovsky uses a siiar situation to this in many of his films,
removing his protagonsts from their familiar, everyday surround­
ings to an alen ground - battlefeld, forbidden zone, exile or, in this
case, a space station- where he proceeds to hold up a mirror to them
and confont them with an unknown image of themselves.
The metaphor of the mirror appears repeatedly in Solaris. Snaut
remarks that it is man they seek in space, not other worlds; man
needs a mirror, his own image - a sentiment echoed by the child's
drawing Kelvin finds on Gibarian's door. Snaut's words are fol­
lowed by Harey's accusation that the scientists have become mere
reflections of themselves. In Solaris it is the planetary ocean that
provides this looking glass, and on the other side one is confonted
with the other face of man - the inward image of the conscience. ·
Unnerved at first by the reappearance of h wife, for whose suicide
he feels in part responsible, Kelvin determines to rid himself of her
in no uncertain manner. He sets her in a rocket and launches her into
space. But Snaut informs Kelvin that his wife may retur again, that
these doppelganger can occur in unlimited numbers; and before long
a new materialisation of Harey duly appears.
Initially at least, her existence seems to depend on Kelvin's con-
66 Andrei Tarkvsk
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68 Andrei Tarkovsky
through love.8 Resurrection here, however, is seen not just as a
beatifc state but as a traumatic process. I his flmed confession,
made shortly before Kelvin's arrival, Gibarian remarks that it is not
madness when the word becomes flesh. Kelvin, in the lght of his
ow feelings of remorse for the death of Harey, realses that Gibarian
had not taken his life out of fear but because of a redeeming sense of
The human materialisations are, therefore, also confrontations
with the unresolved conflcts of the conscience. As such, the phe­
nomenon is related to the idea of 'inmost wishes' described in Stalker.
Kelvin expresses his remorse not just for the death of his wife, but �or
the loss of the other members of h family: in hs encounters With
his mother, and with his father at the end. As such, it is also a token
of his nostalgia for the past and for his life on Earth. Through these
confontations, through suffering, Kelvin, lik� the stalker, fnds
The meaning of Snaut's discussion of human normality becomes
apparent in the light of this as well. 'What is a normal person?' he
asks. Simply someone who has never done any evil? But i a person
has thought evil and these thoughts were to take on material form
(as they can in the sphere of Solaris), he may suddenly be confronted
with a fightening reflection of himself.9 Kelvin's inmost wishes
reveal themselves to be the resurrection and fnally the creation of a
new Harey, the chance to atone for lost opportnities.
The ocean draws its mental models for materialisations fom man's
sleeping state. The signifcance of this state is taken up again by
Tarkovsky towards the end of the flm when he quotes the passage
fom Don Quixote in which Sancho Pana describes the similarity
between sleep and death. In lg the idea of immortality and
resurrection, resurrection and new creation, Tarkovsky was, of course,
returing to a question that concered him both as a matter of belief
and in the realm of artistic creation.
That the story cannot exist on a purely philosophcal level with­
out the element of fairy tale seems substantiated by the circumstance
that Harey cannot exist outside the sphere of influence of Solaris. For
Kelvin a retur to Earth with her is therefore out of the question. But
Sartorius ultimately destroys the materialisation of Harey and all
possibility of recurrences. The phenomenon is ended, as it came
about, through the intervention of man. Kelvin, in choosing to re­
main on the station, might be seen as the prisoner of his own inmost
wishes, were it not for the principle of hope to which he refers. For
to leave would mean to lose the only chance for the fture, he says,
adding equivocally that the only thing left is expectation - the expec­
tation of new flflment.
For Kelvin, the materialisation of a new Harey represents an oppor­
tunty to start again, to retur to that point in time where he had lost
his wife, an opportunity to make good a mistake. Harey is a painfl
re-embodiment of the past, for she had committed suicide after a
period of alienation, for which Kelvin assumes at least part of the
Time, Tarkovsky wrote, is the essence of flm; through film it first
became possible to record immediate tme and to reproduce it at
wl. He drew parallels between the art of flm and that of sculpture.
Just as the sculptor releases a potential form fom a shapeless mass,
so the director extracts and models the essential elements of time
fom an unarticulated cluster of factsY Tarkovsky's interest in fm­
ing Proust is hardly surprising, therefore; for Proust, who spoke of
raising 'a vast edifce of memories', was in this respect a kindred
spirit. Although past time may be irrecoverable, it cannot be de­
stoyed or vanish without trace. Time and memory merge, are two
aspects of a single phenomenon.
Nowhere is Tarkovsky' s concept of sculptng in tme better evinced
than in Solaris and Te Mirror with their complex telescoping of past,
presentand fture. O three separate occasions in Solaris immediate
(past) time is captured and reproduced in the classical form of flm­
within-film: when Berton shows the old documentary of the Solaris
enquiry to Chris Kelvin and his family shortly before the latter's
jourey to the space station; when Kelvin watches Gibarian's confes­
sions on fm; and when Kelvin shows Harey the flmed record of
Earth that he has taken with him to the Solaris station. In each case
the recollection of time past i the present is vividly illustrated.
Berton in the fl with¢ the film is a young man making his
report to a committee of enquiry; whilst the Berton who sits watch­
ing it in the Kelvin's house is a man of middle age for whom the
memories evoked by the documentary are evidently painful. 'You
used to be good looking', Berton is told by the unidentified dark­
haired woman who sits watching the film with him, reminding one,
70 Andrei Tarkvsk
like Berton's thn g hair, of the passage of time. Gibarian's flm is
in the nature of a farewell. By the time Kelvn arrives and views it on
the giant monitor, his former mentor has taken h lie. Gibarian's
resurrection on the screen is denied by h lfeless body lying under
a plastic sheet in the refigeration room. Kelvin's fe record of
home is lke the little tin of earth with the livng flower by the
window in the space station. Souvenir and recollection of another
time, it rets h for a moment to h chidhood, when his mother
was young.
The technique of reproducing time within time through film-in­
flm was not Tarkovsky's invention. He used it, however, to demon­
strate his own theory of cinema, exploring complex relationships
between memory and tme - as in Kelvin's re-encounter with his
youthful mother - and here creatng new images for such ideas as
resurrection and eterty.
'Al wl pass' were the words allegedly inscribed on King Solo­
mon's ring.12 Tarkovsky's preoccupation with the passage of time is
fher documented by the biblical and other quotations to which he
repeatedly ted and by the vanitas themes that recur throughout
his work. But i he drew strength fom belief, in his awareness of the
transience of human existence he was also obsessed with the
Promethean idea of reversing tis order of things and fnding a path
to eteral life. Nearly all his flms are scenarios of paradise and
humanist Utopias in one.
Solaris begins with a long, ardent portrait of Earth, as i Chris Kelvin
were trying to capture in his mind the essence of the planet and his
life there before his voyage. One sees weeds swaying beneath clear,
flowing water, light reflected on the surface, a leaf floating past in
the current. Kelvin fixes the co-ordinates of his life in his mind - the
memories of childhood, the lakeside landscape of his home. They are
images to which he will return in his thoughts and dreams. He
washes his hands in the water of the lake. It is a conscious leave­
taking; for his voyage to Solaris is also a jourey into exile from
which he may not retur.
This aspect of breaking off from life is underlined by Tarkovsky' s
use of still-life motifs from painting - to such an extent that they can
1 and 2 Andrei Tarkovsky during the
shooting of Tie l i |lc! (lef)
and of S:alker (below)
3 (above) Ivan 's Childhood: Ivan and the dead charred tree by the river
4 (below) Andrei Rublyov: prologue-the launching of tw balloon
5 (above) ilnrei Rublyov: Kyrill (Ivan Lapikov). the literate Iô whose intellect stands i
te way of his vision
6 (below) Soiaris: Chris Kelvin watching the film of the dead Gibarian
7 (lejt) The Jirmr: te fate
(Oleg Yankovsky) returs
home duig te ¼U
8 (below) Th Mirror : .ara
Ivanovna. Tarkovsky' s
9 (above) T ;Hirror: te boy with te bird
l 0 (below) Turkovsky (at cumera) during the shooting o!S:alker
1 1 (above) Stalker: te staler and the writer
! 2 (below) Stalker: te staler (Al eksaudcr Kaidanovsky) (right) and te
writer (Anatoiy Solonit�yn)
1 �
. O (above) Salker: in te Zone
14 (beiow) Stalker: te staler' s daughter
Solaris 71
scarcely be fortuitous. Inside the house one encounters the busts,
books and photos that reappear in the space station and later in
Kelvin's feverish vision of home: quintessential tokens of European
history and culture. Here are personal attributes, too, that one asso­
ciates with the director and hs flms: the pictures of hot-air balloons,
or the unsaddled horse roaming fee outside. But perhaps the most
stg statement of Kelvin's leave-taking - and of human depar­
ture fom this world - is the breakfast still life Tarkovsky creates on
the garden table in the thunderstorm. The classical motifs of vanitas
painting that the director explored again and again i his flms are
present here: the half-emptied cup, the jug, the cherries, the
half-eaten apple, and the bread - tokens of an abandoned repast, as
i a circle of people had been called away, suddenly, in the midst of
The references to painting in the f are not limited to still-life
compositions such as these, however. There are allusions to and
direct quotations fom old master painting that refect both the inter­
nal action of the f and Tarkovsky's personal experience, such as
the image of the prodigal son at the end and the extracts from 'The
Hunters in the Snow' by Pieter Bregel the Elder. This picture of
winter is not merely a reflection of the fozen landscape of Kelvin's
home in the fm. It is re-created on another plane fom Tarkovsky's
own childhood memories in scenes he juxtaposes with the close-up
details of Bruegel's painting: the birds in flight; the snow-covered
church steeples; the crow in the bare branches of a tree; the skaters
on the lake below; the cart moving along an avenue of slender trees;
and, in the foreground, the three hunters reting home with their
dogs. The soundtrack echoes this with the songs of birds and the
sounds of dogs barking. The theme of the painting parallels the
exiled astronauts' nostalgia for home.
After the memory of youth, in which one sees a little boy standing
on a hlin the snow - an image that recurs in the autobiographical
work Te Mirror -the f cuts to Harey. She wakes as if from a
reverie and apologises for having been wrapped in thought. This
interweaving of Chris Kelvin's and Harey' s memories leads into
what may be seen as the consummation of their new relationship.
Heralding the 30 seconds of weightlessness that Snaut had previ­
ously announced, due to a manoeuvre of the space station, the glass
chandelier begins to tremble; a book floats past in the air, and one
sees Kelvin and Harey embracing, hovering above the ground in one
of the most expressive sequences of the film, a sequence that antici-
72 Andrei Tarkovsk
pates the moments of levitation in Te Mirror and Te Sacrifce. The
Bruegel landscape appears once more. The brief period of weight­
lessness ends and the scene changes again. The little boy with the red
woollen cap on Earth is seen standing in the snow beside the fire.
Finally, Tarkovsky cuts to the ocean of Solaris, on whch the camera
slowly closes in.
The film revolves for much of the time around the recollection
and re-creation of terrestrial phenomena in an alien environment.
The strange formations in the ocean of Solaris that Berton reported
seeing during a reconnaissance flight had resembled an acial
garden, as i made of plaster, with trees and bushes that then began
to burst and collapse. Berton's description anticipates the recon­
structed landscape in Domenico's ba that gives on to the real
Tuscan hills outside; or the model house in The Sacrifice; or
Tarkovsky's own reconstructions of ideal scenes, such as the tollage
of home in Nostalgia. Similarly, Berton's vision of the huge child
(which, as he later ascertains, bears a close resemblance to the child
of his former colleague Fecher who had lost his life in the ocean)
has the same traumatic quality as Beryozovsky's dream of the stone
figures in Nostalgia.
The collection of memories - impressions and artefacts - that
Kelvin fixes i his mind at the beginning of the flm when he wan­
ders round the lake and the house and that one re-encounters in the
space station in the books and paintings, the photos and busts in the
library, are a microcosm of the world left behind. Here, Don Quixote
and the Greek philosophers, the Venus de Milo, Bruegel, and
Rublyov's Old Testament Trinity are assembled side by side with
photos of home: personal reminiscence and human history; as i, i
rescuing the ideas and objects of his cultural identity, man rescues
himself from oblivion. This collection of material and memories
illuminates Tarkovsky's own use of personal motis, with which he
seeks to rescue the past and his own identity in spiritual exile, fixing
his position with allusion and self-reference: the showers of rain, the
horse running free in the garden, the dog, the balloons, the mirrors
and photographs.
The film abounds in expressions of the astronauts' nostalgia for
Earth, from the collection of butterflies on the wall in Snaut's room
to Kelvin's remark that night in the station is easier to bear than day,
since it is like the night they have left behind. I a simple, moving
image of their yearning for home, Snaut shows Kelvin Gibarian's
invention - a fringe of paper that, attached to a ventilator, produces
a so
und like leaves �stling in the wind on Earth. Here, i space, the
station becomes a ncrocosm of human existence, just as man i a
microcosm of the universe. In the end, Kelvin's life and memories
are seen as an island in the stream, in the larger context of the ocean
of Solaris.
What at frst appears to be a linear, frame-like construction to the
flm, similar to that of Stalk (with the introductory scenes on Earth,
the central section in the space station and the closing sequence
apparently back on Earth), proves to b more elliptical in form, with
quotations of flm within the f and the ambivalence of the various
planes of reality between which it moves.
I a flm concered with the materialisation of mental processes,

lmost everything could be seen to represent someting else, creat­
mg an impenetrable semiological labyrinth. I nearly all h flms
Tarkovsky used ambiguity as a creative tool. Often in the form of
parables, his stories allow audiences to take up the debate in their
own terms and draw personally meaningfl conclusions. Ultimate
truth, Tarkovsky argued, i not accessibleY
Tarkovsky's colour code often provides usefl information in this
respect. But in Solaris, h frst fll-length colour flm, it i still in its
inceptive stage and provides only a tentative guide. Where used to
distinguish between the general narrative and the flm-within-flm
passages (i black and white) its use is clear. On the other hand, the
sequence of Berton's retur to the crowded, teeming city of Lem' s
book (in itself an eloquent document of modem urban values) is also
shot in black and white. It modulates later to fll colour i the
closing phase of this sequence at night.14 Similarly, the scenes of
Kelvin's leave-taking on Earth, as he wanders round the garden of
his home before his jouey to the Solaris station, are also in black

white. The chronology of the f seems to preclude the pos­
Sibility that these scenes are set in a different time or state - as
memory, dream or vision.
Apart from the film inserts and two dream-like sequences, the
rest of the film is shot entirely in colour - the introduction on Earth,
the space station scenes, and the closing scenes set, outwardly at
least, on Earth again. The first of the dream-like sequences, when
74 Andrei Tarkovsk
Kelvn wakes and discovers that Harey has reted a second tme,
is shot in a reddish monochrome. The other sequence of this kind is
Kelvin's feverish vision, which begins in the same red monochrome
and ten, after a momentary reversion to colour, t to a blue-grey
monochrome for the dream of his reunion with hs mother.15 There
is, therefore, a certain lack of consistency in the use of colour in the
flm. I a letter to Tarkovsky, Sergei Paradzhanov echoed his fellow
director's reservaton about the use of colour.16 But after the turbu­
lent history of Andrei Rublyov it is unlikely that the Mosflm studios
would have accepted Tarkovsky's preferences in this respect.
�s a result of the state of ambiguity thus created, many interpre­
tatons are left open. Kelvin, it would seem, remains on Solaris at the
end (or the Erth and all its memories are but a dream, a microcosm
within the ocean's own scenario) . The possibility that Snaut and
Sartorius and all Kelvin's other seemingly real experiences in the
space station might be materatons of mental or subconscious
states cannot be excluded either. Lem, in his book, considered the
consequences of a materialisation of the astronauts' own selves.
Kel�, on his arrival, questons his own sanity and subjects himself
to vanous tests to verify that he is not the victim of hallucinations.
But the book may serve only as a secondary point of reference; for
Tarkovsky's version stands in its own right. As in all his f, he
sought to create a independent work for the cinema.
I. Solaris he
nevertheless adheres to the book far more closely
than r any of his other fms based on literary works. Lem' s novel is
n� ordina
ry science fction fantasy. It is a serious and imaginative
piece of literature that examies the conflict between human and

hnological values; but it does have a strong scientifc and tech­

al content

cted not least in its termiology. For Tarkovsky
this was of little rterest. He was more concered with the meta­
physical implications of the story.
The landscapes of Earth, Kelvin's home and his family do not
exist in Lem's novel. One is tempted to say that, whereas Lem sees
man as part of the endless universe, Tarkovsky saw the universe in
man. But, in fact, the director looks through both ends of the tele­
e. Although he took many details and passages of dialogue
straight from the book, there are inevitably shifts of emphasis i
transferring Lem' s world to the screen. The various written reports
that Kelvin reads i the course of the novel, for example, are set as
f�s (within the film) i Tarkovsky's version. The Berton enquiry,
which Lem has Kelvin discover in a book called the 'Little Apocry-

Solaris 75
pha' after he has arrived at the Solaris staton, takes the form of a
fm report, which Tarkovsky places at the begng of his work
before Kelvi sets out on his jourey. One aspect of the novel that
Tarkovsky did, of course, adopt was the central idea of materialisa­
tion, for which Lem provdes a pseudo-scientfic interpretation. One
can understand it on a metaphorical and metaphysical plane, but in
realitr it defes the laws of the natural world as we know it. Through­
out h work Tarkovsky was careful, when suggestng superatural
phenomena, to supply a rational explanation as well. It was an
underlying disciplne to which he subjected h fims but that is
missing in Solaris.
I Andrei Rublyov Tarkovsky tried to avoid stlted historicism.
I Stalker he aimed at a comparable expression of tmelessness, and
was ultmately able to create his own bare sets of real decay. A
siilar state of decay exists in Solaris; but the set design attempted to
be all
too m�ertic, i not futuristic, instead of providing an
essential reflection of trauma. Furthermore, innovation in the field of
special effects is not only extremely competitive, it is ultimately
Although many of Tarkovsky's works are concered with meta­
physical questons and are set i inward landscapes of the mind, his
flms are essentially outdoor ones. They breathe the open a, nature
and the elements, even i sometimes i a devastated state. His inter­
iors - many of h ow design - are bare, sparsely fhed rooms
or ruined cellars and churches. Solaris, in contrast, is cluttered with


rapheralia of science fction and space travel. Recognising
this hiself, Tarkovsky expressed his dissatisfaction with the flm.17
In Solaris, as in Stalker, Tarkovsky assembles a trio of men to
explore the secret of another world. In Solaris all three are scientist;.
The physicist among them, Sartorius, like the physicist in Stalker, is
determined to eliminate all non-scientific, metaphysical considera­
tions. His resolve to maintain his scientific bearings, in a situation in
which everything - as in the 'Zone' - is in a constant state of flux,
where no experiment is repeatable, leads him into isolation and
secrecy. Like the scientist in Stalker, ultimately unable to cope with
the phenomena he encounters, Sartorius devises a means to destroy
what he cannot comprehend.
In Stalker the trio of men remain together for most of their journey,
reacting closely to each other. As a result, their characters are more
sharply defined than those of the protagonists of Solaris. But
Tarkovsky was probably less interested in the individual figures
76 Andrei Tarkovsk
here than in the ideas they embody.
For much of the time the characterisation in Safaris remains
sketchy. Tarkovsky, whose handling of actors are always one of the
most problematic areas of his direction, described the diffculties he
had faced in making the flm. The workig techique of Donatas
Banionis was completely at odds to his own, and yet the director
generously acknowledged Banionis's perforance in the role
Kelvin and the contibution he made to te flm.18 Snaut, played With
a nervous energy by the Estonian actor Yuri Yarvet, is perhaps a
better-articulated character, despite the fact that Yarvet had to speak
Russian, a language he scarcely understood, and therefore played
the part largely intuitively.19 Sartorius, performed by Anatoly
Solonitsyn, an actor Tarkovsky greatly admired, is a relatively mod­
est role and hardly allowed Solonitsy scope to develop his full
range of powers. There i little evidence here of a negative Doctor
Faustus, as Snaut describes his colleague at one point. Finally, the
central role of Harey is a largely passive one. Tarkovsky recognised
the range of emotion with which Natalia Bondarchuk was neverthe­
less able to invest it, allowing the character to develop from a mere
reflection of another beig to a npersonality.
Artemiev's score, a mixture of astral sonorities and an arrange­
ment for synthesizer of J. S. Bach's Prelude in F minor, provides a
discreet musical complement to the background of natural sounds to
which Tarkovsky was to tr increasingly in his flms and that here
also acts as a counterpart to the visual iconography used to evoke
memories of Earth.
Safaris has often been compared with Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A
Spte Odyssey, made in 1968. If the latter seems to be concered with
a related theme - the omnipotence of a gigantic computer brain over
human endeavour - it really represents the antithesis of Tarkovsky' s
work. Kubrick's flm can be seen as an outstanding example of the
science fiction genre that Tarkovsky sought to avoid, but fom which,
in the end, he felt he had not entirely escaped.
In the course of nearly a century of research, the Solaris ocean has
been recognised as a living, responsive organism. Since its subjection
to radiation it has acquired the God-like ability to create creatures

with the attributes of human beings. Lem describes the whole field
of �esearch into t�e pianet as the religious ersatz of the space age,
belief masquera�mg m �he guise of science, a late blossoming of
myths and mystical desues, or man's attempt to establish contact
�� God. At the end of the book Kelvin articulates an image of an
ailing Go�, not almighty, but crippled and limited in His powers, the
only God m whem he might believe, a God incapable of redemption,
who merely eXIsted. Then Kelvin flies out over the surface of the
planet and lands on a fagment of land i the midst of the ocean.
Tarkovsky's n ends in a similar manner. Kelvin, seemingly
re�ed to Earth, surveys the familiar landscape of home. It is
wmter now and everything is petrifed with cold. One sees the
house, the smouldering fre, the boxer rnning towards i, as if it
were all real, here and now; as if it were but yesterday that he had
gone a'ay
. xet the whole scene is removed fom reality by silen!e
and an InVSible layer of tie. Inside the house he sees his father. A
shower of water bursts through the ceiling on to the old man's
back. 20 His father comes out of the house and Kelvin drops to his
knees, like the prodigal son, embracing the old man. The camera
recedes upwards, revealing the house, veiled in mist, and the land­
sc�pe about it; and, with increasing distnce, one sees that every­
thing, father and son, house, garden, landscape, is but an island in
the midst of the seething ocean of Solaris - vision perhaps or ma­
terialsation of desires.
Here, at the end, the perspective of the flm is reversed. What �t
the beginning seemed to be viewed fom the standpoint of Earth, is

set �another context. Kelvin fnds flflment as part of h own

sion. Li�e the legen�of the Chinese painter who disappeared into
his own picture when It was completed, Chris Kelvin's human iden­
tity is merged with the universe - an image of death and resurrec­
tion, i which time ceases to exist.
The Mirror
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh:
but the earth abideth for ever.
Ecclesiastes 1: 4
Tarkovsky's exploration of the themes of time, memory and immor­
tality is continued in his next f, The Mirror. I Solaris had pursued
the idea of eteral life through the spirit-like figure of Harey, in Te
Mirror it was the director's own mother, Maria Ivanovna, who was
the centre of his preoccupations. His deep attachment to her fids
expression in his writings, where he describes the impossibility of
reconcig himself to the fact that she was mortal, that she would
not live for ever.1 Through f, with its ability to capture and
reproduce time, Tarkovsky saw a means of creating that 'edifice of
memories'2 in which his mother might be �ortalised in another
way. I part it was personal preoccupations such as these that led to
the accusations of subjectivity against the director and his film. But
as well as being Tarkovsky's most personal work, Te Mirror repres­
ents the quintessence of his cinema.
In 1968 - in the same year as he submitted his Solaris project - he
approached the studios with an idea for another film, which was to
be called 'The Confession'. The two projects contiued to develop
parallel to each other, and it was probably Tarkovsky's preoccupa­
tion with the new material as much as his antipathy to the source
genre and production problems of Solaris that made him wish to end
his venture into science fiction and begin another flm.3 The different
titles Tarkovsky considered for the work that was finally to be called
The Mirror throw some light on the way he saw this new film. For a
long time the project bore the name 'Bright, Bright Day'; but he also
considered and rejected 'Atonement' or 'Redemption', 'Why Are
You Standing So Far Away?', and 'Martyrology'.4
The different titles are a record of Tarkovsky's changing concept


Te Mirror 79
of the project. I its early form it was to have been literally a confes­
sion made in confdence by his mother: a candid interiew based on
a prepared list of questons on a comprehensive range of subjects.
T interview, to be filmed by a hidden camera without h moth­
er's knowledge, was to have been conducted by a person unknown
to her, ostensibly with the purpose of collectig material for the
screenplay. These scenes were to have been complemented by re­
enactments of episodes fom Tarkovsky's childhood and by the
insertion of docentary newsreel material.
The mixing of techniques became a characteristic of hs work; but
the concept for Te Mirror also reflects the influence of contemporary
ideas of cinema verite i the 1960s, and of the specifc characterstics
of television as a medium: topicality, live information and the spo­
ken word.5 Tarkovsky's original idea of itereaving documentary
historical material and re-enacted memores of famly le was largely
retained. The interview with his mother, in which she was to have
revealed her inmost thoughts on her family and the world at large,
was abandoned. Based on a deception, the idea posed a moral threat
to the flm and would probably have exposed it to accusatons of
speculative exploitation.
By the middle of 1971 Tarkovsky had accepted the necessity of
usig both colour and black and white as a means of differentation,
and was considering the question of the length of the f. The
producers wanted a work in one part, approximately 2700 metres in
length. At this stage Tarkovsky was tg in ters of a f in
two parts (4000 metres; approximately 145 minutes) to accommod­
ate the extensive interview, which alone accounted for a quarter of
his 72-page screenplay.6 But he was well aware of the diffculties he
would face in gaining acceptance for a two-part version. In the end,
the film proved to be one of his shortest - only 106 minutes. Ulti­
mately, not only the questonnaie was dropped: a number of other
episodes that Tarkovsky had hoped to flm were abandoned as well,
including the field of Kulikovo sequence, which he had failed to
realise in Andrei Rublyov.7
Shooting, originally planned for the late summer of 1972, did not
begin until a year later, by which time Tarkovsky's dispute with his
director of photography Vadim Yusov had come to a head. Yusov,
who was apparently not in agreement with the subjective, auto­
biographical aspects of the new film, decided to terminate his
collaboration. Tarkovsky was forced at short notice to replace a long­
standing member of his team with the cameraman Georgi Rerberg.
Andrei Tarkovsky
Here, too, the director's enthusiasm over the inital work with Rerberg
was to give way to a description of the difficulties caused by the new
director of photography.8

Shooting was completed by the spring of 1974. Agau

was to experience the protacted refusal of the authonties, and m
particular of Feodor Yermash, the head of Goskino, to accept the
work in its fnished form. In April 1974 Cannes made a request to
show the new f. This was refused by the Soviet authorities on the
grounds that it was not complete. By August
f t�e

are year
Tarkovsky was planning to mobiise suppo�for his
f m the face
of Yermash's continued refusal to accept It and, i necessary, to
appeal to Leonid Brezhnev. Failing all else, the directo�inten�ed to
seek permission to go abroad to work for two years. Despi�e the
complex nature of Te Mirror and the problem
s of comprehension to
which this gave rise, by December 1974 the film was clealy recog­
nised by many people as a work of genius. Yermash ne
again refused to send it to Cannes i 1975. It was released m April
that year in two suburban Moscow cinemas and subsequ

ntly m
Leningrad. It was not until nearly three
s late

t�at the f was
shown in the West, having its first screenmg m Pans m January 1978.
The mirror of the final title also returs to a theme referred to in
Solaris: the metaphorical looking-glass that provides man �t
h a
reflection of himself. In its surface, time is refracted; and It 1Õ a
transitional device through which one may pass to other worlds,
other states of consciousness. Time and space meet in Tarkovsky's
mirrors. That is why they play such an important role in his
The mirror functions, rather like the lens of a camera, as a pnsm m
his work, capturig his universe in microcosm.
The significance of the mirror motif is made clear on two occa­
sions near the beginning of the film. The young mother walks back
to the house and sees her two little children as if in her mind's eye.
Her shaven-headed son watches a black cat lapping up milk spilt on
a table. In the background one hears the voice of Tarkovsky' s father
Arseniy reading his own love poem 'First Meetin
gs', in which he
refers to entering 'your domain on the other s1de, beyond
mirror' . `´ A little later, in one of the spellbinding dreams of the film,
Te Mirror 81
the mother is seen washing her hair. A shower of water bursts
�hrough the ceilng;11 pieces of plaster fall in slow motion; water rns
m streams down the walls. Then the young mother (Margarita
Terekhova) looks into a clouded mirror and one sees not her own
reflection, but that of Tarkovsky's real mother, Maria
)ark�'sky uses this device in other flms to suggest the merging
of Identities;13 but nowhere in his work is the imagery as dense as in
Te Mirror .
Margari�a Terekhova,

ho plays both Alexei's young
wie Natalia and his mother Mana as a young woman, is here
�rought fa

e to fa

e with the very person she portrays, at the same
trme catching a glimpse of herself in the future as a woman in her
sixties. Here, in a single image, the characters of wife and mother are
fused; time past and future, memory and prescience are captured in
present time.
The events of the f span three generations, beginning in the
1930s when Tarkovsky was bor and continuing to an undefned

resent - the sta�ing point and end within a continuing spiral of
time. The generations are confusingly telescoped into each other, not
least becaus


ments of their histories repeat. Just as Tarkovsky's
father left his wife and two children and married a second time, so
Tarkovsky's frst marriage ended in separation fom his wife and
their son. Tarkovsky also married a second tme and had another
son, Andrei. These events are recorded in the film, not i the for of
a linear narration but as an associative chain of dreams and recollec­
tions, a�usions and cross-references that leap from generation to
generation. The complexity of the form is compounded, as one has
seen, by the use of two persons to portray a single fgure at different
ages, and by casting one actor to portray two persons in successive
genera�ons. One sees photos of Tarkovsky's real mother with her

Impersonator (Terekhova) . The husband points out the
s1milanty of the two women, which, of course, is in the nature of a
self-fulflling prophecy when the same actress impersonates both
characters.14 Ignat Daniltsev plays Tarkovsky's son !gnat and Alexei
the n


tor (Tarkovsky himself) as a child. Tarkovsky's father
Arsemy ÎÕ portrayed by Oleg Yankovsky/5 but his poems, which
punctuate the flm, are read off-screen by the poet himself. The film
is therefore not only a jourey backwards and forwards in time· it
s between biographical and screen reality, creating a curi�us
tension between the two - an example perhaps of the idea of ex­
trapolating life with other means.
Having assembled the members of his family to appear or speak
82 Andrei Tarkovsky
i his f, Tarkovsky hself is conspicuous by his absence. His
part as a young boy is perfored by his son, and his commentar i
spoken by a narrator. In a telephone conversation with his mother,
in which no one is seen, the camera slowly proceeds from room to
room, passing a stg self-quotation - a poster for Tarkovsk's
film Andrei Rublyov with a depiction of the Old Testament Trity
icon. After the dream of his mother washing her hair, this disorient­
ating reference to Rublyov tears the viewer forward again to the
present time. I real time the poster can probably be �ated �o the
early 1970s when the f fist began to be shown Widely 1 the
West. This woud mean that the man whose voice is heard answer­
ing the phone is the impersonator of Tarkovsky himself, and the
mother is Maria Ivanovna as an older woman. The telephone con­
versation confirms this. Without seeig either speaker, one hears the
mother referring to events that took place nearly 40 years before, and
that are also depicted in the film. When did father leave us?' the
man's voice asks. In 1935, his mother replies, in the same year as the
bam but down. Then she goes on to tell him that Elizabeth, her
friend and coleague fom the printing house before the war, has just
Despite these concrete references, there is an underlying ambi­
valence of tie in the f. Beyond real tme the poster conveys a
feeling of childhood precognition of the future, as well as echoes of
early history and Rublyov's Russia. Tie and events
repeat t��m­
selves. At the beginning of the film the young mother 1s seen s1tting
on a fence smoking a cigarette and lookig ito the distance. This
scene is echoed at the end, when one sees Tarkovsky' s real mother as
an older woman in almost exactly the same situaton. I the episode
in which !gnat and his mother are visiting the father, Natalia i her
haste drops her handbag. As !gnat helps her to gather up the spilt
contents from the floor he suddenly feels something akin to a statc
electric shook and remarks that it is as if he had experienced it all
before in another time - a knd of Platonic anamnesis. This phenom­
enon, the recognition of things already known, experiences stored
perhaps in the subconscious, is of significance in the context of
Tarkovsky's exploration of immortality, here in the form of a collec-
tive memory. .
Immortality was one of his central preoccupations, not merely in
The Mirror; and childhood was yet another image for it - in the
handing on of personal attributes; in the idea of reincarnation
implicit to the identity of succeeding generations; or in the notion of
Te Mirror 83
ity i the chid's inocence of time. Set against this, of course, is
the fleetng nature of yout; in other words, the vanitas motif and its
converse. Artstic creaton was another af atve step towards
imortality, containig as it did a seed and symbol of life; for
Tarkovsky regarded the act of creation itself as a denial of death.16
The f docents the discovery of one childhood in another.
The repetiton of biographical detais from generation to generation
is as much an example of t as the merging of identities and times.
The are tokens of the tmelessness that Tarkovsky hiself found so
fittngly expressed in the image of 'a single table for ancestors and
heirs' in his father' s poem 'Life, Life'P a poem that is also an explo­
ration of the theme of immortality.
'I the midway of this our mortal life I found me in a gloomy
wood . . . . ' The opening lines of Dante's Divine Comedy, which
Tarkovsky has Elizabeth recite as she skips away along the corridor
of the prnting works in the 1930s, might stand as a motto for
Tarkovsky and h fil in the 1 970s. Tued 4, he looks back along
the path he has taken so far. With only four full-length films to his
name and a continuing struggle for recognition at home, he might
wel have been excused for labouring the iage of the gloomy wood.
After his experience in realising T Mirror he considered givig up
his career as a f make altogether.18 The f nevertheless radiates
a serenity that, despite the hardships and the dark history of the
period it covers, scarcely betrays a sense of the crisis in which
Tarkovsky found himself.
I ths taking stock of life he laid great stress on authenticity. He
claied that the f contained not a single fictitious episode;19 and
he went to great lengths to reconstuct his childhood environment,
from the tmber house where the family had lived, to the clothes and
hairstyles of the characters.20 The casting of members of his own
family and the use of documentary material may also be seen as
expressions of this search for authenticity and of the cinema verite
ideas that were so strong at that time.
Although he claimed that the entire f revolved about his mother,
it is in many ways the confession of Tarkovsky himself. His original
concept had been more in the nature of an interrogation than a
8 Andrei Tarkovsk
confession. But the confessional idea was not entirely lost. I is per­
haps reinforced by the fact that the director himself does not appear.
One merely hears the voice of Alexei on the telephone or in an off­
screen commentary spokenbythe narrator, Innokent Smoktunovsky.
The mirror of the title is also a looking-glass held up to childhood.
The factual, authentic quality that Maria lvanovna's interview was
meant to lend the f is replaced by the subjective view of the child.
Contrasted with this are documentary inserts and lg passages
that, outwardly at least, would appear to belong to a different world.
The reality of the newsreel material and that of the child would seem
to be mutually exclusive. Here they come to represent two comple­
mentary views of the same period of history. Seen through the eyes
of a child, the real world acquires a wonderful, unreal quality.
At the begn g of the flm, after the prologue, a man is seen
approaching along a path, up a gentle slope, through felds of deep
grass. The path fom the station led past the house, the narrator
explains. It was only possible to identify people after they· had
reached the bush in the middle distance where the path forked. The
voice-off goes on to describe the emotions of the child waiting for his
father to come home agai. One hears the sound of a train in the
distance. If the approaching fgure were to tum and come up to­
wards the house, it would be the long-awaited retur of the father;
but if the man were to continue along the path without branching
off, father would not have come - would never come. These are the
kind of arbitrary rles invented i chidhood, a game of hazard,
played to force the hand of fate one way or another; an expression of
youthfl emotions somewhere between hope and despair, confronted
with the incomprehensible world of adults. I the f the man does
take the path up to the house; it is nevertheless not the father.
The child's view is tged with a sense of awe. Like most of
Tarkovsky' s flms, Te Mirror also descibes a quest for paradise lost,
for a realm to which we are closest in childhood, when man is still
one with the earth. In the narration of a dream in the film, Tarkovsky
tells of his desire to go back to the world of the child, when happi­
ness still lay before him, when everything was still possible. But in
the dream he is unable to get into the house of his childhood.
In this search for his roots lie the origins of his later film Nostalgia.
There Tarkovsky shows that the sickness of that name can be so
severe as to lead to death. But he also demonstrated that it could take
the form of a creative relationship with the past in the form of
memory, without which man cannot exist. The view in Nostalgia is a
Te Mirror 85
glance backwards fom exile to a lost home. In The Mirror the view
Tarkovsky seeks is that of the child, with which we glimpse Utopia
or paradise. The poit i man's history where he takes the wrong
path is where the child loses its inocence and begins to comprehend
the world in documentary form. To go forard along the wrong
path may be worse than going back. Ivan's Childhood was a story of
lost innocence, of a boy grown old too soon, matured by war and
suffering and feelings of revenge. Te Mirror also describes a process
of growing up amidst war; but it marks an attempt to recover the
vision of childhood as well, not just the memories, but the unex­
plained mysteries, with all their discontinuities and distortions of
time; a child's-eye view of the world and history, which accounts in
part for the elusive fascination and haunting quality of the f.
There are two stg examples of this attempt to capture the
sense of mystery of the child's world. The frst occurs in a long
traumatic sequence fom the past, fom the Staliist era. Alexei's
mother is seen dashing in panic through torrential rain to the pub­
lishig house where she works.21 She is suddenly seized with fear
that she has overlooked an error in correcting an important manu­
script, possibly by Stalin himself. But the manuscript has already
gone to the printing shop, and her anxious flight continues. The
sequence has an unreal Kafkaesque quality, which is heightened by
the subdued colours and the slight retardation of the movements.
The mother seems to glide along· the endless corridors of one of
Tarkovsky's desolate industrial plants. Frantically she searches for
the word in the manuscript. Although her anxieties ultimately prove
to be unfounded the episode is a portrait of fear at that time. Stalin's
picture nangs benevolently menacingly in the window next to her.
Later she confides to her fiend Elizabeth what the word in question
was. But the audience, like a child looking on, is excluded from the
secret. It remains an undisclosed mystery.
The second example occurs towards the end of the f when
Alyosha (Alexei) and h mother visit the doctor's wife Solovyova.2
It is wartime. Alyosha and his mother have been evacuated. They
have had to walk for two hours to reach their destination. The
mother confides to the doctor's wife that she has something to dis­
cuss with her, 'a little secret between women'. She is taken into an
adjoining room and the audience is left waiting with Alyosha in the
first room. The fire burns. Spilt milk drips on to a cupboard. The
petroleum lamp flickers and finally goes out, leaving the room in
darkness. The mirrored door of a cupboard turs and Alyosha sees
86 Andrei Tarkovsk
not his own refecton but that of the red-haired girl with the blood­
stained lips. The two women reappear, the doctor's wife tryig on a
pair of earrngs. She shows Alexei and h mother her own baby
sleeping in another room, a magical picture of a cherbic child
bedded on cushions, surrounded by hangings. She requests Ayosha's
mother to wait untl her husband comes home to pay for the ear­
rings. She asks the mother to kla chicken for her, since she herself
is pregnant again and has no stomach to do it.
Cut in at this point is a vision fom the past, a dream-like memory
in sepia, in which one sees the young mother hovering above a metal
bed in a state of levitation. 'I have raised myself into the air', she
says, and a white dove flies through the picture. A in Solaris and
Te Sacrifce, the phenomenon of levitaton i associated with ideas of
consumated love and with flight, a perhaps to the dream-like
motifs of Kokoshka's 'The Tempest' (Die Windsbraut) or Chagall' s
paintings of lovers floatig in the air. Tarkovsky himself related this
motif to lines fom his father's poem: 'And mother came, and beck­
oned me, and flew away . . . '.2 The sequence comes to an end when
Alyosha and hs mother have to leave, to get back to town before
I these hauntng scenes, in which symbols of birth and death, the
elements, and many other Tarkovskian motifs are mingled with the
fantasies of childhood, the obserer, like the young boy, is again
provided with no explanation for the visit of the mother and her son.
It may be no more than a straightforward sale of jewellery; or per­
haps a piece of wartime barter; or some kind of gaecological
consultation. The purpose i not divulged and is probably not sig­
nifcant. What is important is the fragmentary, impressionistic na­
ture of childhood memory, in which magical images are evoked but
the secrets remain intct.
If Te Mirror is a remarkable attempt to recapture the vision of
childhood, it is also Tarkovsky's most intimate study of the world of
women. The male adults play only subordinate roles, and Tarkovsky
himself, in whose mind the f takes place, does not appear at all,
except as a child. 'The f is about my mother',24 he stated. In his
writings he describes how he was troubled by complexes in his
relationship with his parents, and his sense of immaturity towards
them. ¯ The film reflects these emotions and the problems of being
brought up surrounded by women in the absence of the father.
There are at least two direct references to these circumstances in the
film. In the printing house episode Eliabeth reproves Masha for the
Te Mirror
l� she leads: 'Nothing but "fetch me this" and "fetch me that".'
Eliabeth complains about Masha's pseudo-emancipated behaviour
wars he

that she wl make her children unhappy. It is a
sentiment that IS taken up again a generation later in two conversa­
tions betwee

Alexei and h wife Natalia, when they discuss the
ft: of the

son !gnat. Alexei remarks the similarity between
Nata�a and his m
ther. Natalia, i t, describes Alexei's feelings
of guilt towards his mother, because he believes she has sacrifced
her life
for h an� his sist�r. �ex

i advises Natalia to marry again;
otherwise Ignat will be spoilt like h, brought up exclusively in the
company of women.
Here lies
the key t
the male-female relationships of Tarkovsky's
f�. Even m Te Mzrror, although it is arguably the most 'feminist'
of his works, the roles of the women still conform largely to the
familiar alteratives of mother and Madonna. The scenes of the
young mother in the fenced paddock at the beginning and end of the
f are indeed reminiscent of a hortus conclusus. In this f_ too

ky giv

s expli

it expr

ssio� �o a theme he had already sug

gested m Solarzs, mergmg the Identities of wife and mother.
The openin
g �

es of the f describe an autobiographical
process of gammg articulacy. A boy turs on a television set, and one
sees a young man receiving treatment to cure a stutter. With some
difficulty he tells us his name is Yuri Alexandropovich, a student at
a technical college. He is placed under hypnosis and told that his
hands are growing heav, immovable. The therapist links this sug­
handicap of physical movement to the young man's speech
rmpediment. When the hypnosis is removed, both are gone. Clearly
and fluently the boy announces: 'I can speak!' In the nature of a
prologue, t�es


enes contain yet another example of Tarkovsky's
use o�the mhibited speech motif. Here it is a token of gaining
matunty: the personal maturity of the child (and the director him­
self) and the political articulacy of a nation.
The years of fear under Stalin and during the war are documented
in the film. The liberation from self-imposed restraints, which was to
assume concrete form later - too late for Tarkovsky - in perestroik
and the disintegration of the Soviet empire, is one manifestation of
88 Andrei Tarkovsk
the struggle for articulacy in the second half of the twentieth cen­
tury. The process Tarkovsky describe

is i�erauonal as
well as
domestic. The short history of the Sov1et Umon, like the history of
Russia, is one of theats from outside and oppression within. Gain­
ing artculacy can be seen as a metapho
for the coming

f age of a
young nation in a hostile world. The rmage thus functions on a
personal, national and interatonal level.
. .
The political content of this introductory statem

nt IS confirmed
on a number of occasions i the f - and not ony m the documen­
tary passages. But Tarkovsky's
stance is not �hat o�an uncritical
patriot. In a winter scene in which boys are bemg drilled for �a�le
on the icy boards in a rifle-range, Tarkovsky presents a stg
tragi-comic cameo of the absurdity of war. A young �oy who has
h parents in the blockade insists on turg full crrcle when giVen
the order 'about tur'.
A about-tum is a full revoluton of 360 degrees, he insists, and
ends up facing the same way a before, much to the dismay of
instructor. Another boy shoots up in the air over the end of the rifle­
range and enters into a biarre discussion of the possibility oihittig
anyone who might happen to climb into the tree

there. Fmally, a
hand grenade is tossed on to the boards. The mstructor
himself upon it, ready to risk h life to save his young pupils. �e
hears his heartbeats, sees the blood throbbing m his head as he wa1ts,
but the grenade does not explode. It is a d�y. The whole seen

a bitter joke on the part of a little boy who, lie Ivan, has nothing
more to lose.
A even clearer statement of the historical and political dimen-
sion of the f is the letter written by Pushkin to Pyotr Chaadayev
i 1836, from whch young !gnat quotes. The poet describes how
Russia had been separated from the rest of Europe and had taken
little part in the events of that contient; but how it had been the
expanse of Russia that had kept back the Tartar hordes from Wester
Europe and thus saved Christian civilisation. Russia's preoccupation
with its easter flank was in part responsible for the schism between
the Wester and Easter Churches. At the same time, the expulsion
of the Tartars marked the birth of moder Russia and the emergence
of a national identity.
In citing this letter Tarkovsky returns to the
underlying themes of Andrei Rublyov and sheds some light on his
unfulfilled ambition to realise the Field of Kulikovo episode from
that film in The Mirror.
History, he shows us, is indivisible. In the microcosm of a child-


Te Mirror
hood he reveals a common human identity, a common unverse. The
of ths childho

d is inextricably bound up with a segment of
Russian and world hstory - with the Spanish Civil War, the battle
for Stalngrad, the explosion of the atom bomb, and the border
icidents with Chna. One sees documentary f material of Soviet
troops westling with buly mtary equipment through Lake Sivash,
the 'Putrid Sea', wading ankle-deep through endless stretches of
water and mud flats; scenes of te hostiltes i Spai and the refu­
gees from the Civil War exiled in Russia; scenes of Mao, and of the
Chinese waving their little red books.
I one remarkable sequence that recalls the prologue to Andrei
Rublyov, Tarkovsky iserts old documentary shots of an enormous
stratosphere balloon ready to rise, with men suspended fom smaller
baloons floatg about it like satellites about a planet. Tarkovsky
had used newsreel material previously in Ivan's Childhood. Curiously
enough, in Te Mirror, where he was concered fom the outset with
authenticity, the black and white documentary scenes, often shown
at a slower speed and with a patia of age, possess a hypnotic,
unreal intensity, as i removed in time and place to a distant world
of childhood or dream.
The f possesses an extraordinary visual sensibility. It is a reflec­
tion on memory and on time within time; and the complexity of its
structure is compounded by the fertile imaginations of the two boys,
Ignat and Alyosha. In the anamnesis scene, in which Ignat helps his
mother to recover the contents of her handbag, she wars him not to
indulge in daydreams. When she has gone he turs h head and, in
one of those magical transformations of time and place that are
characteristic of Tarkovsky's cinema - a simple, short pan of the
camera - he (and the audience) see through the doorway another
woman in an adjoining room. She is served a warm drink and then
calls to Ignat to take a book from the shelf and read to her. He begins
by quoting a passage on Rousseau, but is corrected by the woman
and goes on to read the Pushkin letter. When he has finished there is
a knock at the door. Ignat opens it and is confronted by an older lady
who, on seeing him, glances up at the number of the house and tells
him she has come to the wrong address. She goes off, although one
90 Andrei Tarkvsk
recognises her as !gnat's grandmother (and Tarkovsky s own mother).
The boy ret to the place where the dark-haied woman has been
sitting, but the is deserted. There is no �ace
f h

r or her cup.
It is as though she had been a figment of his ragmation; and yet a
circle of condensation left by the warm cup is stll visible on the
polished table-top. Slowly it vanishes before our eyes, and t�e only
piece of evidence that might distinguish reality from fantasy ¸1 gone.
I Te Mirror one also finds the objects and sounds of childhood
that form Tarkovsky's catalogue of personal allusions and that we�e
to become familiar points of reference in his films: the dog, the spilt
m, the balloons and other tokens of flight, and the four elements
- in particular, the numerous manifestatons o�te and
sound of the tain, which recurs in many of his fs, signalling a
l across space and tie, is here associated with the desired retur
of the father.
Here, too, many of his images draw on traditons of European
painting. The set-piece compositions of the decked table �the gar­
den in the rain, the objects upon it overed by the wmd, �a�e
allusion to people and time departed, recalling the breakfast still life
of Solaris. The well in the garden, where the mother refeshes herself
during the fire in the bam in the 1930s/7 becomes, in present time, an
abandoned pit into which discarded crockery has been thrown. Here,
at the end of the f_ is a celebration of the transience of life and of
the ongoing force of nature in the moss and beetles, the wild flowers
and the crumbling, overgrown timber surround to the well.
In The Mirror, too, Tarkovsky employs direct quotations from
painting. One sees the little boy from the rifle-rang

at the top of a
snow-covered hl. Below h in the distance a wmter panorama
with a river is spread out, populated by dimiutive figures, a remi­
niscence of a similar scene in Solaris, whch is, in tum, based on a
Bruegel winter landscape. A little bird, a familiar Christian symbol
in old master painting, flies on to the boy's head. Carefully he

it in his hand. Near the end of the flm one sees a sick man lymg m
bed. He too reaches out and grasps a living bird on the quilt, then
throws it into the air, as if relinquishing his life.28
The influence of the visual arts is not fortuitous. Among other
things Tarkovsky enjoyed a training �n both m

sic and painting
before entering the film school. The Mzrror contams a homage to a
number of painters: Bruegel, the German Romantics, Rublyov and
Leonardo. Ignat leafs through a book with pictures by Leonardo -
engravings, portraits, motifs of praying hands and his depiction of
Te Mirror 91
the Magi that later plays a central role in The Sacrifce. Leonardo was
a universal genius of the Renaissance whose work was a source of
inspiration for Tarkovsky throughout his life, in much the same way
as the music of Bach or the writings of Dostoevsky.
The use of pictorial references is, of course, more than just an act
of homage. I the scene i which the father returs home during the
war, Tarkovsky quotes the portrait of Ginevra de' Bend, attributed
to Leonardo and painted c. 1474. One sees the young woman before
a juniper bush with a misty landscape and still pools of water in the
background. Tarkovsky himself refers to the ambiguous expression
of the portrait, both attractive and repellent. Painted probably on the
occasion of the woman's wedding, it has that unreal, Madonna-like
character with which Tarkovsky invested many of his female fig­
ures. The paintig possesses something of the inscrtable qualty of
the Madonna del Parto depiction in Nostalg. A tentative relation­
ship does indeed exist between the Benci portrait and Leonardo's
paintings of the Madonna.29 Whether the thory juniper, associated
with the name of the sitter, is linked to the biblical burg (thor)
bush quoted shortly afterwards in the f is not clear. Tarkovsky
justifed the appearance of the portrait in Te Mirror i terms of the
sense of timelessness or eterty it introduces and as a counterpoint
to the dual role of the heroine of the f, Margarita Terekhova, who
plays the two mothers.3
I this f_ for the first time, Tarkovsky fuses a number of classi­
cal devices fom paiting into a convincing synthesis - the vanitas
motifs, the four elements as symbols of the four temperaments and
the four ages of man, and the iconography of familiar objects. For the
frst time, too, he begis to explore systematically the contrasted use
of sepia and colour to divide tie and worlds: then and now, inward
and outward states.
His personal 'montage of attractions', both visual and aural, takes
a clear step forward, despite h reservations about Eisenstein's con­
cept of cinema. Few of Tarkovsky' s flms can rival Te Mirror for the
visual fascination it exercises, or its sense of magic and surprise. His
techniques may not be as clearly formulated here as in the later
works - the sound track, for example still relies on music to paint a
background31 - but The Mirror witnesses the crystallisation of his
personal grammar.
The mirror, as object and image of the film, is rich in semantic
content. It also serves as a cinematographic device, facilitating seam­
less transitions between different places, times or states of conscious-
92 Andrei Tarkvsky
ness. Tarkovsky develops other simple yet stgly effective tech­
niques for such transitions. !gnat, for example, has merely to t h
head, as we have seen, to pass from one apparent realit to another.
Natalia simply looks over her shoulder and glimpses the past. These
are, of course, only metaphors for the technical process of changing
scene - by a cut or a pan of the camera; but they mark a signifcant
development i Tarkovsky's grammar of f. The scene of the
bug bam is captured in one of the most remarkble camera
sequences of h whole ruvre. One hears someone shoutng that the
bam is on fire. The chidren go to look, leaving the black cat on the
chair. A obect fals from the table. It is in a mrror that one frst sees
the fre and the children watchng it. A voice calls 'Alyosha' . A boy
appears and walks across the room, the camera ts about its axis
and follows h; and though the doorway of the house one sees the
log hut in flames.
The f is labyrinthine, fl of disjunctions and breaks, yet at
the same tme Tarkovsky's most fluid, flmic work Fragmentary in
structure, an impressionistic mosaic of biographical and historical
details from four decades, it shares the quality of his beloved
element water, flowng in and out of dreams and recollections, per­
meating tie and space i a way that can only be acheved in f*
Tarkovsky's cinema is a constant reminder that f is a visual
and aural medium, not an extension of literature. The communica­
tion of information occurs not only through words but via images
and sounds. He takes us through doors of the mnd. Hs flashbacks
are akin to the patters of thought or memory. The films presuppose
a degree and form of perception for which our mainly literary edu­
cation has not prepared us. The fact that Tarkovsk himself had
difficulty in imposing a convincig, cohesive form on the material of
Te Mirror at editing stage/2 however, is a remnder of the chequered
history of the scenario and lends support to the accusations of sub­
jectivity for which the film was criticised in certain quarters.
Tarkovsky nevertheless succeeded in communicating those elements
of his personal experience that were of universal validity. In its
attempt to convey a child's vision of the world the f can be seen
as a search for what Bloch described as 'something we glimpse in
childhood, but where no one has ever been' - not merely a place
where one belongs, but language and memory, time present and
past, and perhaps even time future: for 'the true genesis is not at the
beginning, but at the end' .33


Tere was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as
sackcloth ofhair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of
heaven fell unto the ear

h, even as a jg tree casteth her untimely
fgs, when she zs shaken of a mighty wind.
Revelation 6: 12-13
�talker re

umes the quest for belief that Tarkovsky had frst taken up
m A

drez Rublyov. 1he director described his later film as a philo­
sop�cal parabl

- It I

a metaphysical, inward jourey in which again
a trio of men - �-t case, a scientist, a writer and the stalker - set

ut on an expedition to a lost spiritual domain. At the same time the
� marks a new phase in the diector's creative life, forming a
hi�e �etween th

mid�le and late works. The last f he was to

m the S<VIet Uro

, Stalker prefigures his own jourey into
exile, mto an alien world m which he sought a new home.
vs�y first read the Strugatski brothers' Roadside Picnic,l on
�hich h� f was to
be based, a1 973, a year afer the story was
frst published. He qwckly recogrused the f potential of the book
and considered writing a screenplay, although initially not for him­
sel£.2 By the end of 1975 an expose had been drafted and Tarkovsk
hoped to shoot the f in the summer of 1976. A frther year was t�

, however, before the screenplay had been worked out and


of the crew appointed. In January 1977 a start was
ma�e with a

enes of trial ;akes. Shooting proper began in May in
Tallinn, Est

ra. But the proJect soon ran into difficulties. By August,
when shooting was completed, the f material was found to be
flawed and, in part, useless.3
Tarkovsky decided to reshoot the flm, and work recommenced


e or
less immediately. But the project was beset with further
difficulties for the whole of the following year. This second attempt
a; th


teria� nevertheless enabled Tarkovsky to take the art
duectlon mto his own hands and to rid himself of a cameraman with
94 Andrei Tarkovsky
whom he was dissatisfied.4 The reshooting was not completed ut
December 1978, and further negotiations with the authorities de­
layed final acceptance of Stalker until April 1979. The film received
its world premiere in the same year in Moscow.
The 'Zone' into which the men set out is a devastated region where
a meteorite or a flying saucer or 'something of the kind' has fallen
and destroyed everything. Nobody is lef in the area and those who
had gone in to investigate had never been seen again. The Zone was
then cordoned off and access forbidden. In the course of tme it
acquired an aura of mystery. Magical powers were attributed to it,
which attracted ilegal tourists who, led by stalkers with an intimate
knowledge of the terrain, came in search of knowledge, souvenirs or
the fent of dreams; for at the heart of the Zone is a house with
a room where one's inmost wishes are allegedly granted.
What then is the Zone - a place of terror, or the repository of
dreams; a lost domain, another place or time for which one feels
nostalgia; uninhabitable earth, or ideal realm; a memory of child­
hood, or death? In the complexity of his vision Tarkovsky allows us
all these meanings. In one of his contradictory statements he insisted
that the Zone is siply a zone, nothing more; that it does not sym­
bolise anyting - only to describe it in his very next words as an
image of life itself, through which man has to pass.5 The Zone is a
forbidden territory and the stalker risks his life to enter it. That it is
a place of death is bore out by the record of those who have
disappeared or lost their lives there. It is a place of deadly hazards,
i a state of permanent change - rather like the ocean in Solaris ¨
where hitherto unproblematic paths become faught with danger.
For the stalker the Zone is also home, a place he knows and loves.
'All I have is here, in the Zone', he says. 'Here is my happiness,
freedom, dignity.' O arriving there he immediately goes off alone
to take possession of his realm again, lying face down in the under­
growth, his arms outstretched, embracing the earth. Fer him the
quest is for belief and paradise, to a place where one's inmost wishes
are granted, where his crippled daughter may be healed - where
wishes ultimately become superfluous. Is the stalker then a Charon
ferrying tourists across the Styx, through the various circles of hell to


Stalkr 95
the realm of the dead; or an apostle, a Christ-like fgure, a guide to
I the f there are paralels both to Dante's Divine Comedy and to
the search for the Holy Grail. Tarkovsky' s vision of heaven and hell
is complex; the two are not mutually exclusive. Furthermore, the
Zone means different things to different men - to the stalker on the
one hand, and, on the other, to the scientist and the writer who are
unable to place their trust in belief. The stalker remarks that the
further one penetrates into the Zone, the closer one comes to heaven. 6
I the context of the bok the statement is ambiguous, with the
central meaning placed on the dangers to life involved in entering
this area.
The f reveals a number of significant shifts of emphasis from
the Strugatskis' story. Whereas the illegal expeditions in the book
have as their ai the salvaging of material object left behind from
the possible visit fom space, Tarkovsky removes almost all concrete
manifestatons of such a visit. There are no physical artefacts fom
another world. Were it not for the atmosphere of menace that is
conjured up, the Zone would be lttle more than a wasteland aban­
doned by civilisation, overgrown with grass and bushes; a world of
crumblng walls and rusting objects, half-submerged beneath water.
I the undergrowth lurk the rotting carcasses of cars and tanks, in
which the bodies of surprised victims may still lie decomposing; but
they seem more like the victs of a nuclear war or some other
man-made environmental catastrophe than of an extraterrestrial
Tarkovsky filtered out most of the origial tokens of the Stru­
gatskis' science ficton. Whereas the stalker of the book finally en­
counters the mystical object at the heart of the Zone, a golden sphere
capable of granting any wish, Tarkovsky, with the experience of
Solaris behind h, wisely avoided any physical expression of such
an object. In the f the sphere becomes an empty space, a room, on
the threshold of which the three men finally t back without
testing its powers. The real world of the Zone that Tarkovsky evokes,
with its endlessly deep wells, its state of constant flux, the unseen
threats and sinister telephone calls, outwardly obeying the rules of
the natural world despite the stalker' s belief in superatural forces,
is far more frightening than any science fiction scenario. The con­
taminated, abandoned wasteland of the Zone, cordoned off and
closely guarded by security forces, is not a prison where men are
confined, not part of some Soviet Gulag Archipelago, but a danger-
96 Andrei Tarkovsky
ous territory from which man has to be excluded. As such, it is a
chl g foretaste of Cherobyl, where the atomic reactor exploded
seven years after the fm was made, giving rise to an inaccessible
radioactive zone.
In his commentary to the Strugatski brothers' book Stanislav Lem
describes the golden sphere and its property of full g desires as a
na've device.7 In the physical world of the picnic that is true. It
represents a breach of natural law. But Tarkovsky turs his world
into an inward, metaphysical one, removing it, at one level at least,
from the plane of veriable experience to that of belief.
A increasingly important feature of Tarkovsky's later work was
the way he aluded to phenomena beyond everyday human compre­
hension, whilst stll adhering to natural law. The dream strcture of
Te Sacrifce is probably the outstanding example of this. But even in
Stalker, with its references to psychokinesis or the fairy-tale motif of
wish fent, Tarkovsky is careful to observe these laws.
Tired of takng a circuitous but allegedly safer route and angered
by the stalker' s strictures, the author throws all caution to the winds,
ignores the stalker's wargs and directly approaches the house
that is their goal. A short distance from the apparently deserted
building a wind rises and one hears a voice forbidding him to come
closer. The writer thereupon turs and retreats to his companions,
asking them why they have called him back. What at first seems an
exception to the rule - like the voice of God in the ruined cathedral
in Nostalgia ¯ concrete evidence of a presence in the Zone, is imme­
diately accounted for by the stalker. Otherwise so awed by the
unseen forces of the Zone and only too wlg to indulge his sense
of mystery, he here provides a natural explanation, suggesting that
the writer, afraid in hs own heart to go on, yet ashamed to tur back
and lose face, had spoken to himself, pretending that it was the voice
of another. The viewer is left to make up his own mind.
The story pursues a path that often skirts hazardously close to
hocus-pocus or schoolboy adventure. (The stalker is even allusively
referred to as Chingachgook at one point.) The film is full of unex­
plained mysteries, rituals and superstitions: the sudden appearance
of the black dog, as if from nowhere; the throwing of the metal nuts,



Stalker 97
to which white ribbons are attached, as a means of deterg the
path ahead; the repeated insistence by the stalker on the impossibil­
ity of turg back; or the rudimentary wishing well, here a shaft
that is so frighteningly deep, it might lead straight to hell. Al are
outwardly unexplained phenomena that have their roots in mytho­
logy or fairy tale.
At the begn g of their jourey, when the three men set out
fom the bar, the witer tur to fetch some cigarettes, but is per­
suaded not to go back with the words: 'It brings bad luck. ' O
arrivig in the Zone the stalker sends the empty rail trolley back in
the directon they have come. If they ever get out of the Zone it will
not b by the same route, he says. O when the scientist forgets his
rucksack, the stalker does not alow h to retrace his steps to fetch
it but tells h instead that one does not need a rucksack: the room
at the end of their path wl give him everything he could wish for.
Curiously enough, the scientist does part company from his com­
panions some time later. When they rejoin him, the stalker insists
that the professor must have overtaken them by another route. The
latter claims that he has not moved fom the spot where his rucksack
was lying, that the others have, in fact, come full circle and retured
to him; whereupon the stalker immediately suspects a trap. With his
extreme caution, his sense of awe for the Zone and his fear of its
alleged taps, the stalker creates an atmosphere of uncertainty and
mystery, · insisting that his companions should not deviate from the
appointed path and exerting an iron discipline over them.
Felicitas Allardt-Nostitz, in her perceptive essay on the influence
of German Romanticism on Tarkovsky's flms,8 draws detailed par­
allels between the works of Novalis and E. T. A Hofann, and the
scenario of Stalker. The chthonic powers of Novalis's Erdgeist, the
symbolism of death and rebirth are all present in Tarkovsky's f,
as indeed are motis from the myth of Orpheus, the Garden of the
Hesperides with its golden apples, or the story of Jason and the
Golden Fleece. Ultimately the flm transcends the dangers of mysti­
cism to attain a metaphysical plane. Tarkovsky sheds the props of
science fiction to create a work relevant to our own spiritual situa­
tion, a statement of the condition humaine.
The film draws on one of his most profound biblical preoccupa­
tions: the Apocalypse. The fairy-tale well of near-infinite depth has
its parallels in the bottomless pit; and the quotation spoken by the
stalker' s daughter to the dream-like sequence in the flooded Zone ­
with the hypodermic needle and the relics of our ruined civilisation
98 Andrei Tarkvsky
-is the vision fom Revelaton of the day of wrathon the opening of
the sixth seaP
In Roadside Picnic there are three distinct expeditions into the Zone,
the third of which Lem compares with a 'black fairy tale' in which
varous obstacles have to be overcome.10 It is this aspect of the book
that is closest to Tarkovsky's Stalker. As in T Mgic Flute, the
protagonists have to endure a series of ordeals, including tral by fre
and in particular (as one would expect of Tarkovsky) by water. The
expedition is in the nature of a pilgrimage, the fm a parable of a
quest for belief.
When the stalker slips away fom home on h assignment, his
wife implores him not to go. 'They'll put you in prison', she pleads;
to whichhe replies: 'Everywhere is prison.' \hat is it that makes this
zone of the dead the stalker's desired realm? \hat do the writer and
the scientist hope to fnd there?
Te three men set out on a jourey that for each of them might
hold a different promise. Tarkovsky made two of his trio of pilgrims
protagonists of distinct realms in our society: the world of science
withits belief in verable fact and technical progress; and the philo­
sophical domain of the artist, with its emphasis on the imagination
and intuition. Both the scientist ('more a physicist than a chemist')
and the writer ('he writes about crises') prove to be cynical repre­
sentatives of a materialist world that has lost belief in God and itself.
The professor, one might think, would be drawn to the Zone by the
promise of scientifc insight; the writer by its potential wealth of new
ideas. In fact, the jourey becomes a trial of belief to which neither is
ultimately prepared to submit.
When the writer first appears outside the bar where the trio of
men has agreed to meet, he is holding forth on how the world has
become explicable, rational and therefore boring. Even inexplicable
phenomena obey laws that are simply not yet known to us. In his
disillusionment he declares the very elements of his profession -
imagination and the mystery of Creation - to be redundant. For the
stalker, the writer's attitude towards the expedition is not serious
enough. Dressed in a black overcoat, he might have come straight to
the rendezvous from an all-night party. His female companion specu-
Stalkr 99
lates on a super-civilsation that might be created in the Zone and is
even interested in joining them - dressed as she is in evening dress
and fur cape. The stalker dismisses the possibility, whereupon the
woman drives off with the writer's hat stil on the roof of her car ­
one of those rare visual jokes in which Tarkovsky indulges. Out­
wardly at least, the writer treats the whole enterprise with a lack of
earestness that can ultimately only antagonise the stalker. Even
after coming under fre on entering the Zone, the writer is ipatient
with the stalker's caution, with his circuitous route and the
obedience he expects to his istructions. The writer presents himself
as a cynic, a pose he keeps up with the aid of alcohol, which
the stalker fnally pours away during their fst dispute inside the
Lying on a tiny patch of dry ground in the midst of a flooded area,
the writer asks the stalker what it is that people seek in the Zone. The
stalker replies that they are all searchig for happiness, to which the
writer responds that he has never seen a happy person in his life.
\hat would be the use of having the certainty of being a genius, he
goes on in te same vei; one would not need to write any more. He
questions the use of technology, when all people want is to eat more
and work less. Continuing in this manner, he fnally provokes the
anger of both the scientist and the staler.
Slowly the trials to which they are subject wear away the protec­
tive mask of cynicism. The witer fnally betrays h unease when he
draws the lot to be the frst to go through the long, cg tunnel
with stalactites hanging from the ceiling and the floor littered with
refse. At the end of this tunnel, which the stalker refers to as a meat
grinder'r mincer, the writer is cononted by a door. He draws a
pistol. In horror, the stalker orders him to throw it away. One daren't
have a weapon here, and what would one want to shoot at anyway?
The writer evidently acknowledges the logic of this, submits and
goes down into a chamber up to his armpits in foul water. Later he
accuses the stalker of having rigged the draw for the order of enter­
ing the tunnel; and fnally he complains, quite at variance to his
remarks outside the Zone, that there are 'no facts here' . Shortly
before their goal he comes out with what amounts to a confession of
his spiritual poverty. Rhetorically he questions the sense of his writ­
ing, when he hates it. 'I thought I could change mankind. But they
have changed me - to their own image.' Burt out, devoid of in­
spiration, he dons the crown of thors he has been holding in his
hand in an expression of (self-)mockery and abjection. Perhaps he
100 Andrei Tarkvsky
had secretly hoped to find inspiration in the magical room at the end
of their joumey; but now, confronted wth his ownemptness, onthe
threshold of the room, he is overcome with fear and refuses to enter
that space.
In his own way, the scientst is also representatve and victim of
the same cynical society. For h the Zone should provide uique
material for research. But he is not interested i ultmate insights.
He is more concered wth the realpolitik of the Zone. Like the writer,
he has not come unarmed - and he has an ampoule with h for all
eventualites, as he confesses at the end of the tun el. The real
purpose of the scentst's joumey, however, is one of destruction.
The signifcance of the rcksack he carries with h, for which he
defes all the stalker's injunctions not to retur on his tracks, i
revealed when he takes out the bomb. With this he intends to de­
stroy the room and its mystery. Shortly before the end of their
joumey, in the depths of the labyrinth, a telephone rings in that
abandoned, ruined world. The writer lits the receiver and answers
that this is not a clinic. Oy then do they perceive the sur eality of
this contct with the outside world. The scientist im ediately reaches
for the phone and cals the ninth laboratory, announcing tium­
phantly that he is only two steps fom his goal, that he has found the
mine in the fourth bunker and that he refuses to be intidated by
the security people any more.
He urges the stalker to imagine what would happen i mankind
were to fnd out about this room with its promise of happiness:
people would make their way here in their thousands, for there are
other stalkers to show them the path; the rulers would come and
want to change the world. O the threshold of the room the stalker
announces that they have arrived at the place where one's inmost
wishes may be fl ed. It is not necessary to speak, merely to
concentrate and .�call one's lie; 'the main thing i to believe' . Now
the scientist takes the bomb fom his rucksack and begins to
assemble it. 'Why?' the stalker asks, near to distraction. The profes­
sor sets the timing device, determined that this place shall not get
into the wrong hands, whether it be a place of miracles or not. The
stalker struggles with him, trying to wrest the bomb from his
grasp, until the writer intervenes, fnally stg the stalker and
hurling him into the water. Still the stalker cannot comprehend the
actions of his two companions. It is the only place for people to
go who have no hope, he pleads. 'Why do you want to destroy


Stalkr 1 01
For him the joumey has been a quest for human happiness and
fulfilment denied him outside the Zone. He begs his companions to
believe. What is the central room and its promise without belief?
And yet, on its threshold, confronted with their own selves, they
hesitate and t back, incapable of putting their belief to the test.
Instead, they indulge in the procrastnation that Alexander finally
comes to abhor in Te Sacrifce. Without belief there can be no para­
dise. The camera recedes across the entire depth of the room, the
tiled floor submerged beneath a shallow layer of water. A magical,
purg shower of rain bursts through the ceiling and stops again.
Together with the black dog, the three men sit on the threshold to the
room. Afer all their recrinations and discussions, afer the pleas
of the stalker to spare his world, the scientist dismantles his bomb
and scatters the parts, tossing the fse section into the room, where
. it lies beneath the water. Two fsh swim up to inspect it. Slowly te
water is clouded by a dark fluid. Confonted in tum with the mean­
inglessness of his own actons, the scientist asks: 'What was the point
of coming here?'
The staler himself is a broken, beaten creature in the mould of
the holy fool that Tarkovsky was to explore more closely in the
characters of Domenico and Alexander in his subsequent flms. All
of them believe tey must sacrifice themselves for the good of man­
kind; all are possessed of the childlike innocence of Dostoevsky's
` 'Idiot', a figure with which Tarkovsky was preoccupied for much of
his life. Tarkovsky hiself described the stalker as a man plagued by
a sense of despair, who nevertheless feels a calling to serve those
who have lost their hopes and dreams.11 As such, he is one of the
director's archetypal anti-heroes - not cynical, as the writer proves
to be, but a person who has suffered humiliation. This, as Tarkovsky
stated, is one of the central themes of the f: the surrender of
human dignity and how a person suffers who has lost self-respectY
The stalker's wife describes her husband as a jailbird, a candidate for
death, a man with no fture, as her mother had once said, a figure of
ridicule. In his own eyes he is a serant, a guide and scout to those
who seek illegal enty to the Zone, of which he has an intimate
The stalker refers to weakness as the only true value in life. He
alone, he believes, is not allowed to cross the threshold to the room
that is their goal, although his profoundest wish is the recovery of
his daughter's health. His own mentor, Diko-6braz - also known as
Porcupine - had entered the room and made his wish, however.
102 Andrei Tarkovsky
Here, perhaps, lies the reason for the reluctance to penetrate that
space. Porcupine, the stalker's teacher, had bore the blame for the
death of his gifted brother and had gone into the Zone to wish for his
restoraton to life. When Porcupine reted home, however, it was
not hs brother he found waiting for him, but immeasurable wealth.
The isight that this was his profoundest wish-not the retur of his
brother - proved so unbearable that Porcupine hanged himself.
The heart of the Zone is therefore a place of confontation with
one's own soul; and the promised fulfent of wishes is not the
mere satisfaction of outward desires, but a materlisation of the
subconscious, the trauma of resurrection that Tarkovsky had al­
ready explored in Solaris. The Zone, lie life, is also a place of eteral
wandering. The jouey, as it transpires, is more important than the
goal; the goal, like paradise, an idea too imense to comprehend.
In its ascetic unity the flm reveals many typically Tarkovskian fea­
tures, not least the numerous vanitas motfs with thei connotation of
the transience of lie. The whole flm is shot amidst scenes of dilap­
idation and ruin and might indeed b regarded as the epitome of
Tarkovsky's aesthetic of decay.
The four elements -the preponderance of water in particular -are
again evident: the sudden showers of rain that burst through the
roof of the tunnel or into the room at te heart of the Zone, the canals
through which the men must wade are not simply stg. cine­
matographic images. They contain the idea of purification that fnds
its echoes in the John the Baptist fagment and the Christan symbol­
ism encountered throughout the flm: in the crown of thors, the fsh
in the central room at the end of the jourey, and the references to
the Apocalypse.
Even the recurring theme of flight, to be found in nearly all
Tarkovsky's flms, might be identifed here in the long, gliding jour­
ney on the trolley with the hypnotic, rhythmic clacking of the wheels
on the rails and the travelling camera passing in close-up along the
line of men and back again. There is a comparable sequence at the
beginning, when the stalker and his family are lying asleep in bed
and the camera moves fom the still life of the metal tray with the
glass and scrap of paper, over the heads of the stalker's wife, his

Stalkr 103
daughter and the stalker himself, then back again. Other distin­
guishing features of the photography in this fl are the slow tav­
elling shots and zooms and the camera's identifcation with the
viewpoint of the protagonists by assuming a position behind their
The dog that accompanies the party in the Zone rets in Nostal­
gia in a similarly enigmatic role. Cerbers or Anubis,B it first appears
in the Zone when the trio of men have settled down to rest i the
shallow canal. Like a materialisation of the stalker's dream,14 it ac­
companies and observes the men intermittently in the course of their
jouey. Absent during the passage through the long tunnel, for
example, it reappears in the hall of dunes shortly before they reach
their goal, and it leaves the Zone with them at the end. The dog, too,
laps up the m that the stalker's wife spills on their retur- another
famar Tarkovsky motif.
Despite the nature morte associations of the Zone, one hears the
barking of a dog or the sounds of birdsong and the repeated call of
a cuckoo - a leitmotif Tarkovsky used, fom the early tranquil scenes
of Ivan's Childhood, i nearly all his films. This background of natural
sounds - the splashing of water, the crunching of glass underfoot,
the haunting sirens of the locomotives, the squeal of metal wheels
on curing rails, or the roar of trains passing the stalker's house -
takes the place of music for much of the flm. Although Artemiev' s
score contains brief passages reminiscent of a somewhat jaded 'mu­
sic of the spheres', for most of the time he limits himself to extending
the natural range of sounds with mechanical clangs, creaks and
chirrups; and the quotation of other music - Ravel's Bolero and
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony - is all but drowned by the noise of
passing trains. Tarkovsky himself described music in film as an
undesirable illustrative relic of the silent screen and referred admir­
ingly to Otar Ioseliani's exclusive use of natural sounds.15 It was a
development Tarkovsky was to pursue himself in his final works.
Tarkovsky regarded the film on completion as his finest work,16 in
which the three classical unities of time, place and action were ob­
served for the first time. 17 There are virtually no breaks in the fow of
the story and that is probably the reason why the colour code is more
Andrei Tarkovsky
clearly legible in Stalker than in the flms immediately preceding or
following it. Framed between sepia iages of the stalker sleeping (or
the sequences of the moving glasses), at the beginning and end of
the f, the central colour section mght, of course, be seen as a
single long dream of the stalker (or of his daughter). But the clear
linear structure of the work makes this interpretation unlikely. The
preparations for entry into the Zone, for example, which would be
part of this dream, remain in black and white.
In Stalker Tarkovsky divides the worlds within and without the
Zone into coloured and sepia images. The long opening section of
the f, describing the staler's home and the entry into the forbid­
den territory, is shot in black and white, as is the retur to the
outside world at the end. It is only after the three men have over­
come the hazards of enty and put the long jourey on the rail trolley
behind them that the film suddenly changes to colour - when the
stalker has reached his desired world and taken possession of it.
Only the three brief sequences of the central dream-like vision i
black and white interrupt this long colour section. The black dog
appears in the canal. The stalker lies sleeping on a mound of earth
surrounded by water. Here, Tarkovsky evokes one of his nature
morte visions of waste and ruin, with the objects of our moder
civilisation lying beneath the shallow water - a hypodermic, a bat­
tery, a gun, coins, a broken miror, a leaf from a calendar, but also
a goldfish swimming in a bowl and a detail from van Eyck's Ghent
altarpiece - discarded, abandoned to decay, a moder vanitas i
black and white. It is at this point that one hears the quotation of
the apocalyptic vision of the earthquake and the stars falling from
heaven. Finally, the black dog lies down next to the stalker.
Tarkovsky's colours were rarely bold, and here he restricts them
to the subdued natural tones of a norther landscape - as he was to
do in The Sacrifce. Although the expedition through the Zone is, in
many ways, an even more traumatic experience than the stalker's
dream, the appearance of colour upon entry into the Zone suggests
that, for the stalker at least, the jourey and the room that is their
goal are images of paradise.
At the end, when the three men retur to the bar, the stalker's
wife comes to take her husband home. He is exhausted. As he goes
down the road with her, one sees the head of his crippled daughter
Martha in close-up. For a moment it seems as if the stalker's inmost
wish had been fulfilled, as if Martha were walking; and the film
reverts to the colour of those sequences associated with the stalker's

Stalkr 105
geatest happiness, in the Zone. But, as the camera withdraws, one
sees that Martha is, in fact, bobbing up and down on her father's
shoulders. They go down the road, accompanied now by the black
dog who has retured with the men fom the Zone.
I the staler's home the f again reverts to the sepia tones of
everyday life. No one needs the room at the heart of the Zone, he

plains. Alhis efforts have been in vai. He vows not to go there
agam. I an attempt to console h, h wife offers to ret there
with h. S�e heips � to bed and, in a remarkable monologue,
tells of her life With h, of the periods of imprisonment to which
he has been sentenced for ilegally entering the Zone; how it had
nevertheless remained h realm, his true home, the place of h
desires, his belief, although it is a place of death.
The fnal sequences of the f provide a closing, fame-like con­
struction, now in colour. The glasses on the table tremble and move
across its surface. Martha rests her face on the tbletop, absently or
focusing her thoughts on the glasses. One of them falls fom the
table, as i she had caused it to move by some unseen power. Over
the roar of the passing train one can barely distnguish the strains of
Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy', which have subsided by the time the train
has passed.
If the colour-sepia code is used consistently, these brief colour
scenes at the end of the f suggest that the stalker's crippled
daughter herself fnds the state of inner peace or transcendence that
the Zone promises. Martha's disability and her possible powers of
psychokinesis18are echoes of other themes in Tarkovsky's f. One
recalls the levitation scene in The Mirror or Otto's mysterious powers
in Te Sacrifce. Similarly, Martha's lameness has its parallels in the
broken speech or the renouncement of words that play an important
role in nearly all the flms from Andrei Rublyov onward. (Martha
herself does not speak i the f either, if one excludes the voice-off
quotations fom the Apocalypse or from the poems of Tyuchev .) The
children of stalkers, we lear, are often bor with some deformity,
which is another startling presentiment of Cherobyl. But they are
endowed with a touch of holiness as well, a cicumstance that recalls
the stalker's own reference to weakness as the only true value in life.
Both Martha and her mother play roles that, in their significance,
far exceed their actual presence in the film. Again, they are roles
entirely in the mould of the other female figures in Tarkovsky' s
films. 19 The wife and mother who seems to live only to serve her
husband, who begs him not to enter this zone of death, describes, in
106 Andrei Tarkvsky
her long fnal monologue, how she has remaine� with him

never regretted it, despite the wargs of her family and th

cule to which she and her husband have been exposed; desp1te the
suffering and fear they have known. That i th�ir life and fate.
Without suffering, she adds, there can be no happmess, no hope.
Martha, whose physical disability may seem stangely compen­
sated by her extasensory powers, belies her name. She i an other­
worldly Marian figure, a holy chid. It i through Martha and her
mother, not the intelectuals who have gone into the Zone, that the
film's final message of human love becomes apparent. For human
love, as Tarkovsky says, is miraculous proof against the sense of
hopelessness of the world.20 Here, as in Te Mirror, lies the hidden
paradise - in the principle of hope.

For in much wisdom is much grief:
and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
Ecclesiastes 1 : 18
In 1 765 Maxim Beryozovsky,l a Ukrainian serf who had shown
certain abilities as a composer, was sent to Italy by his master to
develop his talents. He enjoyed considerable success there, later
becoming an honorary member of the Academy in Bologna, where
he had studied under Tartini. But Beryozovsky was stricken with
nostalgia for his native land and when he was sumoned home in
1774 he chose to go back to serfdom rather than live in exile. Having
reted home, he fell in love with an actress-serf in the service of
Count Rasumovsky. The count, on fnding out about this love affair,
proceeded to rape the gil and send her to one of his estates in
Siberia. Beryozovsky ted to alcohol and, in 1 777, finally hanged
From this footnote to musical history Tarkovsk's Nostalgia un­
folds. The f resumes the thread of the story in the twentieth
century. Andrei Gorchakov, a Russian poet, travels to Italy to re­
search the life of Beryozovsky, on which he plans to base an opera
libretto himself. He too is overtaken by homesickness and dies far
fom home in the empty sulphur pool of Bagno Vignoni, fullg a
pledge to a Utopian recluse he has encountered there.
Tarkovsky claimed that he wished to make a flm about Russian
nostlgia, a state of mind he regarded as peculiar to his compatriots
when removed fom their native land.2 He was first allowed to visit
Italy to discuss the Nostalgia3 project and write the initial screenplay
with Tonino Guerra in 1979, after a protracted period of negotiations
with the Soviet authorities. Preparations for the film took Tarkovsky
back to Italy a number of times in the course of the following years.
After shooting was completed in 1983 he never returned to Russia
108 Andrei Tarkovsky
again, fnally declaring h intention
to remain in the �est in July
1984.4 Tom between a yeag for hs country and family and the
impressions of Italy, where he remained an alien but found a new
home, Tarkovsky himself died in exie.
Paralels of this knd between fact and fiction, autobiography and
history were a distinguishing feature of hi� works. Altho

gh �he
nostalgia of the title reflects much of the drecto
r' s ?wn s
after leaving Russia, elements of it are to be found m his earlier flms
too. The fates of Beryozovsky and Gorchakov resemble those of a
whole line of Sviet arists i the twentieth century. But the sickness
Tarkovsky describes in Nostalgi is not simply a longing for home in
a strange land. It is also an expression of man's alenation from
hiself, from his roots and the earth. The flm is a document of the
search for a new universal harmony,5 a theme to which Tarkovsky
addressed hmself icreasingly in h later years.
The evidently autobiographical elements that he wove into Nos­
talgia are reinforced by defnitive references: the quotations from the
poems of h father; the dedicaton of the fm to h mother; and
perhaps even the circumstance that he and Gorchakov shared the
same Christian name. At the same time, Tarkovsky's search for
'home' i an alien environment (like te stalker' s in the Zone) has a
broader significance. To limit the identity of these yeargs specif­
cally to Russia would be to reduce the dimensions of th

f. For
the one hand, loss of habitat has now become a worldwtde ecologtcal
problem, with man fast destroyig hs own natral environment;
and on the other, home is also a place withi the heart, a scrap of
language, lines of verse that cannot be translated, memory, time past
or visions fture.
Tarkovsky had waged a rnning battle with the Soviet authorities
to be allowed to take his family with him to Italy to make ts f.
Not until shooting was under way in 1982 was his wife Larissa able
to join him as an assistant director. His son Andrei was not allow�d
to leave the Soviet Union untl shortly before Tarkovsky's death m
1986 - to receive on his father's behalf the special award i Cannes
for Te Sacrifce.
During his visit to Italy in 1979 when the frst version of �h�
screenplay was written,6 Tarkovsky also shot a f called �empz dz
Viaggio (A Time to Travel) with co-author Guerra. It provides an
interesting record of the director's impressions of Italy. Togeth�r
with Tarkovsky's diaries from this period, it illuminates hts
spiritual state and the situation of conflict i which he found himself
at this time.7 Both this initial fm and Tarkovsky's personal notes
record his ambivalent feelngs towards Italy. Quoting a sentiment he
was later to put in Gorchakov's mouth, he described his inability to
comprehend �he wealth ?f beauty of that country;8 and yet, in spite
of h nostalgta for Russia, he was later able to declare his love for
Ita�y and the sense of lightness he felt there.9 In a despairing entry
wtten tw� ye�rs l�ter, Tarkovsky described a feeling of being lost,
unable to live Î either Russia or Italy.10 At the same tme he was

otiating to buy a piece of land and a tower in San Gregorio,
which he planned to make his new home.
The conficts to which Tarkovsk was exposed during these years
-- his d�s�
pted famil! life; his yearg for home coupled with the
mposst�ility of working satisfactorily in Russia; the recognition and
fiendship he encountered i the West, and at the same time the
diferent cultural and social conditions prevailing there - all found
intimate expression i Nostalgi.
The ?uality that Russia and Italy came to represent for Tarkovsky
provides a key to an understanding of his f. It was realised as a
S?viet-Italian co-production, based on a screenplay by Tarkovsky
himself and the well-known Italian writer Tonino GuerraY One can
only conjecture about the individual contributions of these two au­
thors, and it wlcertainly be a case of the whole being more than the
sum of the parts; but there are new elements in Nostalgia that are not
present in Tarkovsky's other flms and that may arguably be attrib­
uted to the influence of Guerra.
Gorchakov and Eugenia, Gorchakov and Domenico are pendant­
like manifestations of this duality, which, i the end, is resolved into
a state of complementarity. Having located the spiritual terain of
the film at the very beginnng with a pictorial quotation of Russian
home that might have been taken from a family photo album,
Tarkovsky cuts to Italy and real time, introducing Gorchakov and
his guide and interpreter Eugenia. Having come all this way,
Gorchakov does not want to get out of the car and see the fresco in
the nearby church. He even requests Eugenia not to speak to him
in Russian. She remarks that the light, the landscape, the whole
atmosphere remind her of Russia. But Gorchakov is evidently pained
Andrei Tarkovsk
by these reminders of home. At the same time he rejects the seduc-
tions of Italy and refuses to enter the church.
Eugenia is one of the few examples of a female character achiev­
ing a certain self-volition in the predomina

tly �ale
Tarkovskys films. Despite Gorchakov's broodmg, his resignation
and passivity for much of the time, Eugenia's brief encounter with
h is one of the most fascinating and ambivalent male-female
relationships in the director's ruvre. Eugenia represents a constant
threat to Gorchakov - the threat that he might forget his own roots
- and he attempts to hold her at ar's length. She embodies the
seduction of Italy, and is photographed at times as if she had
stepped out of a painting by Titian.
. .
On their arrival at the hotel they are greeted by the receptorust as
a couple; but Gorchakov hastly denies this and they are given
separate rooms - he do�tairs, Eugenia upstairs. She accompanes
Gorchakov to Domenico's house, but there she abruptly abandons
h and returs to the hotel. Later the Russian fnds her, scantily
dressed, on his bed drying her hair. I explanaton she says that
tere is no warm water in her own room. But she goes on to ask h
why he is so afaid, so full of complexes. She accuses h of talking
of feedom, but not knowing how to use it. Holding her bare breast
in her hand, she asks h what it is he really wants. No, not this,
she determines. It is not her body he wants, for he's an intellectual;
and she goes on to describe the loss of vigour of Russians far fom
Eugenia is the critical commentator of Gorchakov' s situato

, with
her constant allusions to nostalgia. She tells the story of a maid who
came fom souther Italy to Milan, where her sense of homesickness
was so great that she set fre to the house of her employers. Before
she leaves for Rome, Eugenia gives expression to Gorchakov's year­
ing in a stg metaphor that l it to his own situation in Italy.
She reads a letter written two centuries before by Beryozovsky, the
composer, in which he had described a nigh�are. A s

ene of

opera he was producing was to take place m a park flled with
statues. These were to be played by human beings, including
Beryozovsky himself. Fearing punishment fom his master if he
should move, the composer felt himself slowly petried with cold.
On waking, he found that it was not a dream at all but reality.
Beryozovsky compared this sensation with the thought of never
being able to retur home.
. +
Finally, it is Eugenia who reminds Gorchakov of his promise to

Nostalgi 1 1 1
Domenico and informs h of the latter's demonstration in Rome.
Andrei, heart-sick - or sick at heart - dies of his illness far fom
home: nostalgia as a sickness for another place, another time, an­
other state, so severe as to amount to a disease - a sickness unto
I this is the Italian side of Eugenia, there is also a distinctly
Tarkovskian view of her. For example, Gorchakov was originally
meant to have been a translator,
but a signifcant change was
made and the hero of the flm became a poet (like Tarkovsky's
father). The less creative role of translator was allotted to Eugenia,
Gorchakov now insistng on the ipossibility of translation outside
the realm of music. Eugenia nevertheless functions as a mediator
between two cultures and, like her compatriot Domenico, speaks of
the need to tear down boundaries.
When Eugenia calls Gorchakov a hypocrite in the hotel foyer he
slaps her, more as a father would slap a naughty child than a man
the women he loves. Only in Gorchakov' s dreams is Eugenia al­
lowed to penetrate his armour of indiference. One sees her lying on
top of h_ in the safety of his fantasy, on the bed of the hotel.
This vision is famed by others of his Russian home - the frst of
which shows Eugenia united in an embrace with Gorchakov's wife
Maria. In the second, one sees Maria lying on the same bed - one of
those photogenic iron beds that appear in many of Tarkovsky' s flms
- now viewed fom the side, her belly swollen in pregnancy. The
faint sound of bells can be heard. Maria calls out. Andrei awakes and
hears, not his wife, but Eugenia calling to h in present time.
The Tarkovskian view of women is perhaps most explicitly stated
when Eugenia enters the church at the begn g of the flm to view
the fesco of the Madonna del Parto by Piero della Francesca. Here is
a well-known place of pilgrimage to which women come to pray
about matters of childbirth and fertility. The sexton talks to Eugenia
about belief and asks her whether she has come to beg the interces­
sion of the Madonna for a child, or whether she wished not to have
a child. Eugenia says that she is merely an observer, to which the
man replies that one has to be more than that. She should kneel and
open herself to God. Eugenia awkwardly tries to kneel, but then
abandons the attempt.
Why do women have more faith than men, she asks. In the sex­
ton's view, a woman's role in life is to have children - which is a
great sacrifice. 'Only that?' Eugenia asks. One sees the fresco of the
Madonna in close-up. A heavy fgure of the miraculous Virgin is
1 12 Andrei Tarkovsky
bore in by a group of women. The font of the robe is opened and
from the womb of the fgure flies a swarm of little birds - in a
beautl image of both fruitflness and Chstianity. Their feathers
fall like snow. A feather also fals into Andrei's dream, which is cut
in at this point. He picks the feather fom the mud. Like the stalker,
he has an aberrant patch of white hair on his head. One sees Andrei
standing in the landscape of memory from the begn g of the f.
Later, also in a dream, after his final dispute with Eugenia in the
hotel, Andrei cals out to his wife. One sees her rising from the bed.
She draws a curtain in the room and a white bird flutters on the
window sill. Here, Tarkovsky ties together the motifs of Maria and
her pregnancy with the birds and the Madonna in the chapel of
pilgrmage at the begin g.
In nearly all his fms women are either relegated to a domestic,
servg role or are elevated to motherhood and saitliness. The wife
of whom Gorchakov dreams is called Maria (like Tarkovsk' s mother
and the enigmatc servant in Te Sacrifce). Speaking to Domenico,
Andrei even compares his wie to the Madonna by della Francesca.
It is the Virgi Mary who intercedes on his behalf with God in the
ruined cathedral; and Gorchakov' s dialogue in the flooded church is
conducted with a little angel in wellngton boots called AngelaY The
name of St Catherie is also invoked in a similar way at various
points in the flm. She is said to have come to the spa herself; and it
is to her honour that Domenico wishes to bear his candle across the
pool, which bears her name, Gorchakov taking up the flame on his
behalf at the end. 14
Tarkovsk suppresses the painful seductions of Eugenia and Italy,
overcoming the temptations of the flesh by banishing them to the
realm of Gorchakov' s dreams, as he banishes Eugenia herself to
Rome and a dubious lover called Vittorio.
On her removal to Rome Eugenia disappears from the film until the
end. But her relationship with Gorchakov is not the only manifesta­
tion of a Russian-Italian duality. Having come to Italy in search of
Beryozovsky, Gorchakov finds Domenico, who immediately cap­
tures his interest and proves, in many respects, to be the Russian's
alter ego. One is familiar in Tarkovsky's films with the phenomenon

of merged identites. In Nostalgi it can be seen as part of the process
through which the director seeks to resolve the conflicts of exile.
I the f blurs the characters of Maria and Eugenia, it also
provides a number of clues to a common identity between the two
men. I h dilapidated house, Domenico, a former mathematician
pours two drops of oil into the palm of h hand, idicating how the�
merge and become one. Painted on the wall is the equation '1 + 1 *
1 '. Domenico dies by burg in Rome. At the same time Andrei
rets to Bagno Vignoni and dies carrying Domenico's flame across
the pool.15 The Alsatian dog that suddenly emerges fom Andrei's
bathroom in the hotel and settles dow beside his bed, as i they had
been lifelong companions (like the dog fom the scenes fom home)
belongs equally to Domenico. It is seen accompanying h when h�
fst appears at the open-air pool. It is present in his derelct house
when Andrei visits h; and when Domenico goes up i flames at
the end one sees the dog tied to a column, strainig at the leash, the
only creature to show genuie emotion at his master's death. But the
dog also inhabits Andrei's dreams and his memories of home; and it
is with h at the close, after death, within the ruined church, amidst
the reconstructed landscape and the falling snow of Russia. Here too
are shades of the black dog of Stalkr, as well as Tarkovsky's own
Alsatan Dakus.
Perhaps the most startling expression of this merging of identities
occurs in t�e deserted �
town where Domenico lives. In a sepia
sequence - m dream or VISion
- Gorc�akov sees himself wandering
though the empty streets, which are littered with newspapers, rub­
bish, old furture, as i the town had been abandoned in panic or
were indeed an image of the end of the world that Domenico has
prophesied. Gorchakov passes a wardrobe, pauses and goes back to
it. As the mirrored door swings open, it is not his own reflection that
Andrei sees there, but that of Domenico.
The constrasted personalities of Domenico and Andrei are echoed
in the musical themes associated with them. For Domenico it is
Beethoven's tri

mphant, affirmative setting of Schiller's 'Ode to Joy'
(Freedom), which one hears when Andrei first visits Domenico and
again when the Italian commits his act of self-immolation in Rome.
Andrei's music is a Russian folk song and muted strains from Verdi's
Requiem ¬ a music for the dead.
Domenico's aim is to overcome man's alienation
His Utopian
vision is not just an escape into a personal realm, but an attempt to
change the values of the world. Stationed on the scaffolding about
114 Andrei Tarkovsky
the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, he proclaims the need to
retur to that point in history where we took the wrong path, to
begin again, without polluting the springs. I Gorchakov' s nostalgia
is a deadly sickness, Domenico's is a yeag for life, for a better
world that transcends death. But Domenico is regarded as mad and
is restrained fom entering the pool of Bagno Vignoni to make his
sacrifice to St Catherine.
Andrei is drawn to Domenico's vision. He feels a sense of identity
and allegiance with this childlike, older man, who seeks to take the
sins of the world upon himself and to redeem mankind in his act of
self-sacrifice. Tarkovsky described his interest in unheroic figures
who are unable to cope pragmatically with lie, but who have a naive
sense of responsibility for others.17
This contrast of character - Andrei, the passive, reflective poet,
Domenico, the man of deeds - anticipates an important aspect of
Te Sacrifce, where Alexander finally rejects indecision and words in
favour of action. Even in the nature of their deaths, Domenco and
Andrei are contrasted, the former taking his own life with a can of
petrol and a lighter in a public demonstration, whilst Andrei dies of
an insuficient heart in the empty pool, observed only by a startled
girl. 18 Andrei and Domenico are two aspects of man and two faces of
the same fgure, Andrei passing on the flame ignited by Domenico at
the moment of the latter' s death.
Through Domenico Andrei finds peace in exile. The initially alen
worlds of Italy and Russia are reconciled. The barriers are tom down
- as Eugenia had advocated. Two moments in the f illustrate this
movingly and powerfully. When Andrei frst enters Domenico's
ho1se one sees (in sepia) an artifcial landscape spread out over the
floor - mounds of mud enclosing pools of water. As the camera
travels across the floor, distinct rows of plants and trees become
visible. This artifcial landscape (recalling perhaps that of the ocean
of Solaris and anticipating that in which the model house of Te
Sacrifce is set) rises up and seems to flow out of the window, merg­
ing with the real Italian countryside beyond. This idea of a land­
scape of the mind is articulated more fully at the end of the flm. To
the sound of a Russian song, one sees Andrei with the Alsatian lying
before a pool of water in front of the timber house of his memory,
having arrived at the place of his desires - the place where one's
inmost wishes are fulfilled.

�¯ •
1 15
The idea of sacrce and madness present in Nostalgia reappears in
Tarkovsky' s last f too. Domenico's act of self-immolation is ech­
oed in T Sacrifce by Alexander's burt offering. To the outside,
real world the latter can only be the deed of a madman; and, in its
own way, Domenico's absurd, defiant gesture is hardly designed
to change the reputation for madness that has clung to h for so
many years.
The theme of madness is discussed at various points in Nostalgia
- for the frst time in a scene worthy of Fellini, set i the sulphur
pool where the society of the crumbling spa, up to its neck in steam­
ing water, describes how Domenico had kept his family locked up
for seven years to await the end of the world, and how his house had
fnally been broken open by the police and the family released. For
a time Domenco had been kept in an asylum, but when these insti­
tutions had been opened by the authorities Domenico had left. No­
body had wanted to take him in and he had gone to live in his
present deserted house alone.
Eugenia tells of Domenico's attempts to wade across the pool
bearing a lighted candle for St Catherine; but, believing h to be
mad, no one wl let h carry out his mission. Every time he tries to
enter the pool he is dragged out. It is for ths reason that he hands
the candle to Gorchakov and asks h to undertake the task on his
behalf. Later one sees the moving scenes of the release of Domenico's
family many years before, shot in sepia, in slow motion, without
sound or music, the children and their mother feeing along the steps
of the church. Tarkovsky evokes a traumatic vision of the family, as
i it were attempting to overcome some insuperable obstacle. One
sees mik rng fom an overed bottle. Domenico pursues his
son along the steps. The priest attempts to intercede. The little boy,
who has known no other life than his confinement, cries out in
bewilderment: 'Papa, is this the end of the world?' In these scenes
Tarkovsky confonts us with the frightening perspective of Plato's
cave dwellers.19 Domenico confesses that he had been an egoist who
wanted to save his family, the whole world. The sacrifice he is
prepared to make is like Alexander's in Tarkovsky's last flm: part of
a personal contract between himself and God that also plunges those
closest to him into misfortune. But Domenico goes further. He sacri-
1 1 6 Andrei Tarlvsk
fces not just worldly goods - like Rublyov, he has none -nor speech
and creative activity, but his own self.
Domenico's view is of a world out of balance, where materialism
has swamped intrinsic spiitual values, where man lives in a kind of
ecological exile. Domenico's argument is entrely plausible, i not
new. Questionable is his lie of action to restore the world to health,
to set a signal or appease God. To moder man, i h alienation
from God and the earth, it is incomprehensible, Tarkovsky argued.
The verdict passed on Domenico, as an Aexander, could only be one
of madness. But it is the madness of the perfect fools and holy
martyrs. One recalls the Christan symbolism of the oil and the wine
and bread, the Eucharist that Domenico administers when Andrei
first enters the house, and later the candle he gives to the Russian.
From the very begn g Andrei doubts that Domenico is mad;
or, he argues, the mad are closer to the truththan we. In that respect
Domenico stands in the tradition of Dostoevsky's Idiot, one of
Tarkovsky's central concers in these later years.20 Tarkovsky de­
scribed Dostoevsky as a man who was unable to believe, but who
wanted to; a man in whom the organ of belief had withered.21 The
jourey on which Gorchakov initially sets out also becomes a quest
for belef, similar to that undertaken by the stalker i the decaying
world of the Zone, or by Andrei Rublyov i ffteenth-century Russia.
Exile is as much a spiritual state as a geographical, political or social
condition; and only through belief can one come to terms with it,
Tarkovsky suggested.
Gorchakov' s quest leads h to a series of spaces of Christian
belief - often in a ried state, as in many of Tarkovsky' s other fils.
The church with the fesco of the Madonna at the begng, which
Gorchakov refuses to enter, is followed by the church under water,
and the roofless cathedral that is to become his fnal resting place.
I a diary entry of 1 7 July 19792 Tarkovsk outlined an early
concept in which the hero was to have imagined a conversation
between God and the Virgin Mary. The sequence was finally set in
the ruined cathedral and not on the edge of the pool, as originally
foreseen. Shot in black and white, it obviously takes place on a plane
removed from immediate reality - in Gorchakov's mind or in his
dreams - thus only narrowly avoiding a break with Tarkovsky's
principle of accountability to natural law. In this conversation the
Virgin Mary asks God why He does not reveal Himself to Gor­
chakov in words. God replies that, although He cannot reveal Him-

1 1 7
self openly, Andrei wlbe able to feel His presence, i he wishes it
strongly enough.
Tarkovsk continued to refine his technique in Nostalgi, construct­
ing the f on a number of visual and aural levels. The pictures are
often like carefully composed paintings: the still-life compositions in
Domenico's house; framed images seen in mirors, through open­
ings; the hl town rising up like an ideal city in the sunlit Italian
landscape; or the simple walls that sere as backgrounds, catching
light and shade and colour with their uneven textures. Tarkovsky's
eye for visual qualties is combined increasingly with the use of
iconographic codes related to those used in old master painting,
with its systems of attributes and symbols. In the scenes i Domen­
ico's house, for example, the discussion of belief is counterpointed
by the use of vanitas elements in the best traditon of still-life paint­
ing, where objects in various stages of decay are carefully arranged
in a representation of the transience of life. This entire sequence
develops primarily on a visual and aural plane and only secondariy
through the dialogue.
Domenico's house is a stone carcass, a ruin (like the submerged
church and the roofless cathedral) within which he has withdrawn
to an improvised habitable corer, protected fom the rain by a sheet
spanned beneath the ceiling. H home possesses only vestiges of a
true habitation - a token door that stands in the middle of the room
without adjoining walls; and a roof through which the rain pours.
Within this crumbling structure the camera slowly turs, capturing
strange still lifes - windows fled with green leaves, dried flowers
and seed pods; empty bottles that catch colour and light, rain and
sound; mirrors; the photo of a doll or child.
Tarkovsky' s Christian iconology -the four elements, or the occur­
rence of wine, bread and oil within the same scene in Domenico's
house, for example - is a familiar and recurring feature of his films.
Water and fire have a particular place in Nostalgia, fire representing
both light and enlightenment, water denoting not only the tradi­
tional concept of purity or purification, but associated by Tarkovsky
with the idea of home and homesickness. There are at least ten
118 Andrei Tarkovsky
distnct manifestatons of water in the f,2 and almost as many of
fire. Standing on the equestrian status in Rome before settig light to
himself, Domenico says: 'In me is water, fire, ashes . . . '; and parallel
to this Andrei crosses the pool in Bagno Vignoni with the lighted
In addition to the use of the iconographic traditions of painting,
Tarkovsky developed his own specifically fmic code in the use of
colour and black and whte to distinguish between te and states
of consciousness. Time past and the object of Gorchakov' s immedi­
ate nostalgia, his Russian home, are depicted in sepia. The f
begins with a sepia picture of a landscape with mist rising, a view
down a hil towards a river or lake in the distance fnged by trees;
a telegraph pole and a white horse. One sees the figures of children
and women and an Alsatian dog, all slowly descending the hl at
first and then fozen in movement to a static ensemble. With these
few semiotic tokens, together with the wooden house that appears
later, Tarkovsky creates a set piece that is quoted at various points
in the f ¯ often to the quiet, plaintive melody of a Russian folk
song. Even the obligatory white horse would seem to be no more
than a stage property, unmoving throughout the f. Andrei's
memory is here reduced to a schematic signal. His other recolec­
tions, visions and dreams are also drained of colour: the scenes in
which he recalls his wife Maria or sees her together with Eugenia;
the model landscape of the ind, first seen on entering Domenico' s
house; and the historic release of Domenico's family fom captivity
(anticipating in some ways the black and white scenes of panic in the
streets in Te Sacrifce). Andrei's encounter with the reflection of
Domenico in the cupboard mirror in the deserted hl town i in the
same colourless tone, viewed with the inward eye, as are the scenes
in the ruined cathedral where Gorchakov comes at the end and
where vision and memory are united.
What makes Tarkovsky's fm so enigmatic at first sight are these
shifts between different planes. He eschewed the famiiar conven­
tions by which the viewer is prepared for flashback and dream. He
cuts or dissolves without an explanatory transition. In so doing he
demanded a new cinematographic awareness of his audience. An
additional complication was that his transitions were made not just
backwards in time within a present context. Time past and future,
dream or vision are juxtaposed on a more or less equal footing with
present reality. All states, all times form a continuum. The unex­
pected confrontation with Domenico's reflection in the mirror is a

1 1 9
case � po�t. But o

e of the most elegant and startling of these
m Nosta�gza is in fact achieved by an astonishingly simple
VIsual deVIce preVIously used i The Mirror. In the hotel hall the
sound of water (the sound of home) is heard; Andrei turs from
present reality and looks back over his shoulder into past memory
to the sepia world of the tableau of home.24
The �ypnoti

effect of much of the film is achieved through the
drens10n of time, which Tarkovsky came to explore more and
e consciously in his later works. Change and development were
achieved not only by cutting, but by almost imperceptible move­
ments o�the ca�era - slow parallel tracking and zooms - and by
modulations of light within individual scenes.
In N
lgi Tark
ovsky also contnued his exploration of the use of
sound m f. I h last works, he created an aural dimension that
approaches the quality of his visual world in its cohesion and inten­
sity. He continued to pare down the use of traditional f music as
atmospheric background or commentary and to replace it with nat­
ural sounds arising from the context of the scene. The use of music
is now reserved for pointing specific situations, certain themes being
associated with certain characters. The rest of the soundtrack is a
rich aural co

position of sounds near and far, past and present - of

s crnching underfoot, of a motor saw whining, and again and

water running, dripping, gurgling - associative sounds
linking different tmes, places and planes of reality.
Nostalgia represents a continuation of themes already examined i
alker; but it is also a response to Tarkovsky's own immediate
crrcumstances, which were changing as he made the f¯ his re­
moval from Russia, later to harden into exile, and his nostalgia for
home and family. The flm documents his own personal struggle to

lve t�ese conicts through belief and memory; for there can be
no life Without memory, and in memory is a segment of home. At the
close of the film, as the camera slowly retreats, one sees the tableau
of home, now set within the rined nave of the Italian cathedral.25
Again, the strains of Verdi' s Requiem and the plaintive Russian folk
song are heard. Here, beyond death, identities are dissolved, bound­
aries finally overcome. The real and the remembered, the ideal land­
scape of the soul and the landscape of exile - Russia and Italy - are
The Sacrifice
If we shadows have ofended,
Tink but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumbered here
Wile these visions did appear.
Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream
Within a few weeks of each other in the sprig of 1986 Gunter
Grass's fable The Rat1 was published in Germany and And.rei
Tarkovsky's last f, The Sacrifce, received its frst sho

ing at
Cannes. In his novel Grass describes the tme after an atorc holo­
caust, after the end of time, the Earth ravaged by fre, sto

s and
ashes, its landscapes pitted and filled with water and debns, en­
crusted with mud, cleft and tom asunder. The catastrophe at the
centre of Tarkovsky's f is the outbreak of a third world war, a
final terrible cataclysm in which 'there wl be neither victors n

vanquished, neither cities nor villages, neither grass nor trees, nei­
ther water in the springs nor birds in the sky'. In the spring of 1986
the disaster of Chemobyl cast its shadow on the world. In the final
days of the same year Tarkovsky died.
. . . . .
The convulsion that sets the machinery of sacrifice m mot10n m
Tarkovsky's flm is the product of man's spiritual plight, of the
triumph of materialism over spiritual values. 'I wanted to show t�at
man can renew his ties to life by renewing his convenant With
himself and with the source of his soul', Tarkovsky said.Z The cause
of the catastrophe that lies at the heart of the f is to be found in the
state of disharmony in which man lives with himself and with na­
ture. The disaster that threatens the world is more a symptom of its
malaise than the root of the problem. 'Sin', Alexander philosophises,
'is that which is superfluous', the corollar of which is that 'our
whole civilisation consists from beginning to end of sin' .
Alexander's sacrifice is the liberating act of a man seeking a way
Te Sacrifce 121

t of this situaton, a man who sees the opportunity of beig an
mstrument of human redemption. Although he himself has retired
fom the stage to contemplate, write and teach, he has grown weary
of w

rds. He sees the world rled by procrastinaton and idle talk.
The time has come for deeds. Alexander had gone to live with his
wife and daughter in a house they had found by the sea. About him
he has a small but intimate circle of fends and servants. It is there
that his son, 'Little Man', was bor, a latecomer and te apple of his
father's eye. Although his wife's life is evidently marred by regrets
and fustrated love, to Alexander himself the idyll stll seems intact,
above all through the presence of his little son, his hope for the
This entire

orld is suddenly threatened with obliteration by a
nuclear convulsion, the outbreak of a third world war, fom which
there can be no escape. In a bid to avert inevitable destructon,

akes a gesture of faith on behalf of manknd and prom­
Ises to sacrifice all he possesses. Alone in the darkness, he makes a

rful vo

: 'Lor�, deliver us in this terrible hour. Do not let my

en die, my fiends, my wife . . . I will give you all I possess: He

Ises to leave the family he loves, to destroy his home and give
up �s �on. He s
wears a vow of silence, never to speak with anyone
agam. I shall

ve up ev

rything that binds me to le, if you will
only let everything be as zt was before, as it was this morg, as it
was yesterday: so that I may be spared this deadly, suffocating,
bestial state of fear.'
I the same night Otto, the postman, comes secretly to Alexander
m his ro
om a

d sug
ests a
possible way out. Alexander must go to
the servmg grrl Mana, a Witch with benign powers, and sleep with
her. Alexander complies with these instructions, and when he awakes
the following morg the threat of war has vanished. He thereupon
prepares to carry out his act of sacrifce. Sending everyone away on
a fool's errand, he proceeds to bur the house down. He himself i
finally taken away in an ambulance - to silence and confnement ­
by two white-jacketed men.
Te Sacrifce reveals the continued exploration of themes that were
for a long time central to Tarkovsky's thinking. At the same time the
film is inevitably regarded as the summation of his life's «ork.
Domenico's act of self-immolation in Nostalgi, Andrei's sacrifice to
St Catherine in an Italian spa fnd an immediate echo in the idea of
sacrifice by fire i Tarkovsky's final film. Domenico had called for a
change in values, a new beginning, and had taken his life in the
122 Andrei Tarksk
cause of a better world. Like Gorchakov before hg Alexander
takes up the flame Domenico has lit.
Domenico had locked his family away for seven years, had held
them captive in a deserted Italian hl town un�the

e had set
them free. O being liberated, his son had exclaned: Is this �e e

of the world?' The sepia scenes of this liberation in Nostalgta, With
the family fleeing along the steps of the church �th
� �
town, anticipate in some ways the two apocalypti
� �
s10ns U t�e
street in Te Sacrifce? I The Sacrifce, too, the family 1s held m

own congenial confnement, in the remoteness of the norther exile
Alexander has chosen as his home - where his wife, in the moment
of crisis, levels the accusation that she has sacriiced her own career
on the stage to go and live with h there.
If the idea of continuity across the generations, encountered m �e
Mirror, is present here in the hope for the fture Alexander places m
his little son, the dream of immortality is soon shattereaby a cat

trophe that threatens all human existence. I Nost

had exhorted man to tum back while there was stil time. In Te
Sacrifce it is already too late. The end is not merely nigh; the final
countdown has begun.
There is a new sense of urgency, somethmg fundamental, 0
Testament-like about the single-mindedness with whi

h Al

(also performed by Erland Josephson) sets about making his sacn­
fice. It is an act of release in itself. I his traumatic state after the
outbreak of hostilities he whispers under his breath that �e
has been
waiting for this moment all his life, as if, in his fear, de
vmg some
perverse pleasure from the occasion that now presents 1t

The destruction of hs home by fire is not the only sacrifice Alex­
ander brings, however. Like Rublyov, he reno�ces speech in a bi�
to move God. Rublyov' s vow of silence and his abandonment o
painting were made in protest against the senseless c�elty of the
world and in anguish at the fact that he himself had killed a �

Alexander, on the other hand, wishes to save the world. The �amiliar
Tarkovskian motif of speech and its renunciation rea

pears 1 other
contexts in the film. Victor refers to the silence Gandh1 observed

day a week; and Little Man is unable to speak, due to an
on his throat. In The Mirror the liberation from a stutter signalled a
process of growing articulacy. In The Sacrifce the motif of silence
marks a protest against the inflation of words.
The imbalance between material and spiritual values in the mod­
er world has not been reduced, and the threat of destruction we

Te Sacrifce
have hung over ourselves has scarcely receded. Tarkovsky's war­
ing may not be new; but the glimpse of the apocalypse he affords
us, as well as signallig a remarkable achievement in cinema, is a
powerful and urgent statement of the human condition. His com­
pelling vision does not founder in horor, however; it leaves a spark
of hope for the future.
The f opens with a coloured still of a detail fom Leonardo's
magical, ushed painting 'The Adoration of the Magi' (141-2),
now in the Ufi, Florence. It forms the background to the opening
credits and in a sense to the whole flm. One sees the head of one of
the kings, who is proffering a cup, and the hand of the Infant Jesus
reaching out to touch it. After the credits, the camera slowly moves
up the paiting, revealing Christ and the Virgin, and the foot of a
tree held by the hands of angels. The camera continues to rise ver­
tically up the trunk of this tee, past the wild, rearing forms of hrses
in the distance.
Leonardo's painting provides an important key to the flm. At its
simplest level it is a depiction of a present-giving in celebration of a
birthday. It is for this reason, of course, that" Alexander's guests are
gathered about h on this day. In the fgure of Christ surrounded
by the Magi the picture also conveys an image of naked inocence in
the midst of worldly wealth. It is through the sacrifce of Christ that
the wor!d is redeemed, whch is precisely Alexander's ambition in
the f.
It would be taking the parallel too far and underestimating
Tarkovsky's vision as a film maker to see a direct translation of the
contents of the Adoration painting into another medium. Tarkovsky
paid homage to Renaissance painting in general and to Leonardo in
particular on a number of occasions in his flms. But Te Sacrifce is
especially imbued with the ideas of this painting. The two works are
of a kindred spirit; and many of the motifs that one thinks of as
specifically Tarkovskian are also to be found in Leonardo's work.
The sketched form of the white horse to the left of the tree is one of
the director's most familiar fingerprints; and the portrayal of ruined
architecture (which in Renaissance religious painting was often used
to convey the idea of the decay of the old order, the Old Temple;
Andrei Tarkovsk
Christ, in contrast, representing the rise of the new Jerusalem) finds
its counterpart in the waste landscapes and crumbling buildings of
many of Tarkovsky's f. I Te Sacrifce the motif of decay can be
seen as a token both of the decline of civilisaton and the destruction
the war is about to bring.
Otto fnds this picture terg. He has a great fear of Leonardo,
he says. The painting does have its fearful aspects - in the awe-filled
countenances of the shepherds in the foreground, i the animated
scenes in the background and the wild, primeval character of the
horses. The picture reappears on a number of occasions in the f.
A print of it hangs in the house, the glass reflecting Alexander's
features in a double image, as i he were entering the picture or
emerging fom it at times. The tee in the painting also finds its
counterpart in �he film. I the opening scene after the credits we see
Alexander plantig a tall, dry stem. He tells h young son the
legend of the old Orthodox monk Pamve who had planted a dead
tree on a mountain and who had instructed a novice, Yoann Kolov,
to water it every day tl it wakened to life. Every morg Yoann
would fill a bucket, ascend the mountai and water the tree, ret­
ing in the evening after dark. For three years he did this, until one
day he climbed the mountain and found the tree covered with
The recounting of this parable sounds a whole series of resonances
in the f. Father and son performs the same act of faith as Pamve
and his disciple, Alexander suggesting that the patient repettio

the same deed at the same tme every day may ultimately bnng
about a miracle. The tree they plant is, of course, a reflection of the
tree of life, beneath which the Virgin and Child are seated in the
Leonardo painting. It is also a reference to the wooden Cross
Christ, which ultimately burgeoned with new lfe, in an expressiOn
of resurection. Tarkovsky described the waterig of the dried up
tree as a symbol of faith.4 At the close of the f Little Man is seen
heaving two buckets along the track to water the withered stem his
father has planted. Having completed his task, he lies down beneath
the tree to wait. Recovering his voice, he speaks for the first time in
the film, repeating the words he had heard from his father at the
outset: 'In the beginning was the Word' ; and he adds: 'Why, papa?'
Again the camera rises to the crown of the tree, where there is still
neither blossom nor leaf. But, as if in answer to this question, the
dedication of the film to Tarkovsky' s own son is faded on.

Te Sacrifce 125
ost of :arkovsky's flms, The Sacrifce contains a number of
autobiographical references. T Mirror is in many ways a ho
. . '
, mage
�o s

other, and Nostalgza IS directly dedicated to her. Te Sacrifce
IS �e�Icat

d to his son. The parallels extend to the content as well. I
this fnal f the faith Ale

ander pla

es in Little Man is a reflection
of th

Tarkovsky himself set m the next generation. If the
rap�cal aspects of his work led to criticism, particularly in
the �

vie� Uruon, Tarkovsky's use of personal reference has a long
m the hto
of art. It could be compared, for example, to

actice of artists mcorporating depictions of themselves in their
amtings, often discreetly hidden amongst the secondary fgures or
m background

cenes. In the 'Adoraton of the Magi' painting, which
plays such an rmportant role in this flm, critics have long conjec­
tured that the armoured fgure in the bottom right-hand corer is a
self-portayal of Leonardo himself as a young man.
Tarkovsk:(s descriptions of the development of the screenplay
for T

e Sacrif
ce throw an iteresting light on the degree to which
auto�10graphical elements are present in hs fs and the way the
�re eit�er allowed to impinge directly on the contents or are ass�
ila�ed mto the narrative
treatent. Th

initial screenplay concept,

before the shooting of Nostalgza and bearing the title 'The
Witch , revolved about the remarkable cure of a man suffering fom

ancer. In �s desperation, confronted with the knowledge of an
mcurable disease, he encounters a strange fgure (the forerunner of
the pos�an), who tells Alexander that his only hope of recov­
ery IS to go to a woman, allegedly a witch possessed of magical
powers, and to sleep with her. This he does and experiences a re­
markable cure, much to the amazement of his doctor. But the witch

s u
one day and stands outside the man's house in the rain to
clarm hrm. Alexander's sacrifce at ths stage in the development of
the scr


ted in re�quishing family and possessions
and gomg off With this woman m the attire of a poor man.6
Dg the shooting of Nostalgia Tarkovsky was struck by a number

f p

rallels betwee
his own �fe and the matters preoccupying him

his work at that time. Andrei Gorchakov, the main character in the

lm, �ad come to Italy with the intention of remaining only a short
time m that country. He wa

consumed with yearing for his home;
but, unable to retur, he ulhmately died in Italy. Tarkovsky himself
126 Andrei Tarkvsk
had originally intended to ret to Russia after completng the f.
He had also been overtaken by illness in Italy, and fnally saw no
choice but to stay in the West. He was deeply affected frther by the
death of Anatoly Solonitsyn, the leading actor in most of his earlier
flms, who was to have played the role of Gorchakov in Nostalgia and
who was long foreseen for the part of Alexander in 'The Witch' .
Solonitsyn died of the same disease that had brought the turg­
point in Alexander's life in the frst version of the story, and 'today,
years later, I too am sufering from it' .7
Tarkovsky subsequently revised h teatent of the story, re­
moving it from a realm that had become alarmingly personal, to give
it a more universal validity. The autobiographical strand remains,
however, inextricably woven into the film, and the lines spoken by
Alexander to his little son beneath the trees have a poignant signifi­
cance: 'There is no such thing as death, only the fear of death.'
I the course of his career Tarkovsky refned and extended h
stylistic vocabulary to a point where certai personal fingerprints
and structural devices acquired a semiotc content of their own. The
relationship between the iconography of his films and that of clas­
sical painting, the use of identg attributes, the citation of the
four elements are now familiar features of his work. The generation
of sounds, the quality of the camerawork, lighting and choreogra­
phy, and the dramaturgical use of certain characters all serve to
illuminate areas that are not otherwise expressed in the narrative
pictures or dialogue.
Tarkovsky developed the use of his differentiating colour code to
a fne degree. Its use in Te Sacrifce wl be discussed in greater detail
in conjunction with the ultimate signficance of Alexander's sacri­
fce. At this point it is suffcient to remark that Tarkovsky here
employs three categories of colour to distinguish between present
reality, other time, dream and vision. Even so, the range of colour is
extremely limited. The film is shot in the pale light of a Swedish
summer - in the early moring at the 'magic hour'. Even the day­
light scenes are of low contrast. The indoor waking scenes are also
subdued in colour, with the result that the transition between the
different planes are often almost imperceptible - creating ambigui-


· ,

Te Sacrifce
ties that refle

the work's many layers and possible interpretations.
I The Sacrifce the four elements again play an important role, in
particular water and fre. Tarkovsk himself referred to the myster­
ious cin

genic qualities of water, the sense of movement, depth and

e It
co�veys; but that a�

ounts for only one aspect of its pres­
ence m hs flms. I Te Sacrifce he uses it not merely to establish a
context or to paint an atmospheric background (for example, the sea
or the waterlogged earth). It forms a specific iconographic element in
the fm, signifyig le and growth and purifcation. Fire is of a
s�ar visu
al q

ality, uut is associated with ideas of light and pur­
gation, and m this case 1Õ the central vehicle for Alexander's sacrifce.
Other personal Tarkovskian motifs are present too. The mrrors, the
doors that swing open on thei own, the trembling glasses, the image
o�spilt m, t�e condensation of breath on the window pane, the
pictures of the little boy asleep, his bloody nose, the phenomenon of
levitation are all famar from Tarkovsky's other works.
The extraordinary visual quality of this last fm is in large part
due to the camerawork of Sven Nykvist. I Nostalgia was distin­
guished by slow zooms in and out, the stg feature of The Sacri­
fce is the use of parallel tracking and the pan. Here too camera
movements are almost imperceptibly slow, and many of the uncut
scenes remarkably long. (The opening sequences and the fire scene
at the end are now well-known examples of this.8) The camerawork
together with the choreography of the figures helps to create an
exceptional sense of space, as is illustrated by the scene in the garden
after the nightmare has passed. Victor and Adelaide are seated at a
table in front of the house. The camera moves slowly to the right, the
focus imperceptibly shifting fom the foreground to explore succes­
sive planes of depth and activity, fnally allowing a view through the
doorway, through the entire house, to the garden beyond. There, as
if by chance, Alexander is obsered slipping unseen out of the rear
of the house. The viewer is in two worlds at the same time: listening
to the conversation at the table in the garden and party to Alexan­
der's secret design.
The sense of space is also heightened by the spare furshing of
the interiors and the careful control of lighting. Changes of light
within a single scene (as in Little Man's bedroom), or classical
chiaroscuro effects, in which one sees merely the expressively half-lit
face of Maria, for example, are amongst the most striking aspects of
the use of lighting. The tone is nevertheless subdued throughout.
The night scenes are often barely lit; the camera scarcely seems to
128 Andrei Tarkovsk
move. This stil austerity creates a tension, a sense of space and
movement that is one of the most remarkable achievements of the
f and one of Tarkovsky's outstanding contributions to the tech­
nique of ciema.
The collage of visual references is echoed on the plane of aural
composition. Music is used sparingly throughout. Only at the begin­
ning - to the Leonardo picture and the credits - and at the very end
is it used as a background, extraneous to the f» In both cases one
hears a passage from Bach's St Matthe Passion. The other brief
incidences of music in the f are integral to the action; that is, both
the Japanese flute music, which Alexander plays on ris stereo set,
and the organ prelude that he plays in Maria's house are 'live', in the
sense that they are motivated by and occur within the action of the
f. They are not effects added from outside.
The soundtrack accompanying the dialogue and pictures is of
quite another nature. Here Tarkovsky refines the technique of
Nostalgia even further. The composition of sounds near and far,
present, past or even future, in reality or dream, counterpoits the
visual stream, forming a further layer of meaning that clais almost
as much attention as the pictures. The sounds of the sea and gulls
and the fog hom in the night establsh the basic context against
which the action is set and are heard for much of the flm. The
rumble of thunder and the sounds of tremblig glasses herald the
approaching cataclysm and the blast of the planes roaring overhead,
shaking the whole earth. One hears the window shutters outside
Little Man's bedroom swnging i the wd, opening and closing,
and modulating the light in the room as they do so; and in the night,
when Alexander cycles to Maria, the familiar bark of a dog can be
heard. Throughout the scene in Maria's house the passage of time i
documented by the loud ticking of a clock; and at the close of the
f the great fire is accompanied not merely by the crackle of the
flames but by the splintering and crashing of beams, the shattering
of falling glass, explosions within the house, the telephone gro­
tesquely ringing amidst the conflagration, and the strings of the
piano finally snappig with awful resonance.
Perhaps the most significant sound in this score is, however, the
voice of the shepherd, as one might describe it. The strange voice the
writer hears from the house in Stalker, waring him not to proceed,
or the voice of God that Andrei hears in Nostalgia here reappear in
the form of a shamanistic call, half cry, half song, recurring at tur­
ing points in the action. It is first heard near the beginning of the
Te Sacrifce
f, when Alexander and h son are sitting beneath the trees,
Alexander phiosophising about the world. Little Man slips off out
of sight. Alexander notices the boy's disappearance in alarm. The
call recurs, and when his son steals up on h, Alexander' s reaction
is one of shock or fright. He lunges out, accidentally stg the boy
in the face, causing h nose to bleed. The scene is followed by
Alexander's blackout, and the frst appearance of the vision of the
devastated street, with the steps and the dark tunnel entrance. The
c recurs later, in the house, after Otto has told his strange tale and
is also inexplicably struck down. One hears the haunting call once
more after Alexander' s terrible vow alone in the darkness of his
room; and again when Otto visits h in the night to advise h to
go to Maria and seek redemption. On this occasion they are aware of
the cry, but do not know what it is. It is a cry of warg or exhorta­
tion, perhaps the voice of God or the sient call of Little Man, so faint
and fleeting, however, that one can never be entirely sure it is any
more than a shepherd callng to h flock in the night. Yet, when
Alexander turs back on his way to Maria, having fallen fom his
bicycle and hurt h knee, it sounds again, as i in admonition; and
whether or not Alexander hears it consciously on this occasion, he
ts once more and continues along the path to Maria's house.
Tarkovsky hl remarked the greater congruence between stuc­
ture and statement in Te Sacrifce than in his earlier films, which
were often episodic in nature with only a loose structural form. I
Nostalgia, for example, there was virtually no dramatic develop­
ment. In h final f there is a far greater articulation of the charac­
ters. Their interaction with each other leads to situations of conflict
that seek a resolution.9
Tarkovsky uses certain fgures here as pivots for the drama. Two
characters in particular have a catalytic function in the film: Otto, the
postman, who forms a foil to Alexander; and Maria, who has a
relatively small role, but who impinges on the acton at important
tng poits. Otto can be seen as providing the comic element in
the flm. He is a Puck-like, mercurial, ambivalent fgure, constantly
springing surprises with his unexpected aphorisms and na've wis­
dom, rather like a clown in a play by Shakespeare. It is he who
philosophises with Alexander i the opening scene on fundamental
existential questions, referring, much to Alexander's surprise, to the
dwarf who had overcome Zarathustra - only to become the victim of
Little Man's practical joke in the same scene and to be laid low a few
scenes later by his own 'evil angel' .
130 Andrei Tarkovsky
It is Otto who brings the grandest of the birthday presents, an
enormous framed map of Euope. Alexander assumes that it is a
reproduction of an old print. A ori�al would be far too valuaìle
for the postman to give him. But, as i It were the most natural thing
in the world, Otto confirms that it is indeed a seventeenth-centur
original, and adds that any present ha

to be s
mething of a s

otherwise what sort of present would It be? It I he who perceives the
fightening aspect of Leonardo's picture. Asked
by Victor abo
t h
background, Otto reples that he has given up h work as a history
teacher to come here and concentrate on other thigs, and that he
only works as a postman 'in his spare time'. Otto colle

ts strange
phenomena and describes the remarkable parapsychological case of
a mother and her son who had been photographed together; shortly
afterwards the boy was killed in the war but had inexplicably re­
appeared i a photograph the mother had had taken of her

years later. Otto is the key to the superatural worl�of ths f: It
is he who comes to Alexander i hs night of desparr and tells h
that Maria, the house-help, is a witch fom Iceland possessing b
nign powers; and that Alexander's only hope of rescue is to go to her
and lie with her.
It is through Maria that Alexander fnds deliverance. She is a
fgure of many parts: mother, eteral womanhood
sorceress and
Virgin Mary all i one. The parallels to the Madonna m the Leonardo
painting are reinforced by the attributes with which T

kovsky en­
dows her. O Alexander's arrival at her house, the bleatng of lambs
can be heard and a flock of sheep rs backwards and forwards
along the front of the building i the darkness. Inside the house o�e
sees a group of objects forming a still-life picture in black and white
- a cross, a mrror, old family photographs. Finally Alexander, w�o
has fallen into a puddle on h way there, washes his han

. M

pours water from a jug into a bowl and over his hands, giVmg hr
a white towel with which to dry them. The ewer, the water and the
towel denote purity and, like the lamb and the Cross, are comm

Marian attributes used in Renaissance painting. Similarly, the mr­
ror, the ticking clock and the photographs are familiar vanitas s
bols of transience. Here again the memento mori is set side by side
with tokens of eteral life.
Alexander proceeds to tell the story of his mother's overg
garden on which he had attempted to impose order but the spmt
which he had in fact destroyed. This whole scene is filled w1th
maternal references. When finally he asks, 'Could you love me,
T Sacrfce 131
Maria? Save me! Save us all!' she tels hm to leave. But Alexander
threatens to take his life with the pistol he has removed from Victors
bag. The glasses rattle again and the war-bringing jets thunder past
overhead. The shepherd-like call is heard. I their union, in the
moment of delverance, one sees Maria and Alexander swathed in
sheets, turg, hovering above the bed in an act of levitation, bride
and groom of the winds, mother and child, recalling the scenes
of levitation and the pregnant mother in Te Mirror, as well as the
Child in the arms of the Madonna.
The apocalyptic black and white scene of the devastated street
rets, now flled with people fleeing in fear. The camera retires
over thei heads to the glass balustrade, in which one sees reflections
of tall buildings. O this occasion the camera retreats even further,
revealing the head of a child face down on a white pillow - Little
Man asleep, surrounded by charred rags. The shepherd's song-like
call is heard again; a series of brief scenes ensues. Alexander is
asleep in the grass. Beside h, her back to the camera, sits the fgure
of Adelaide; but when she turs, one sees that it is really Maria,
wearing the same dress and hairstyle as Adelaide. Tarkovsky merges
the characters of wife and lover, witch and Madonna, suggesting
facets of a single person. The 'Adoration of the Magi' picture retur.
Finally, there is a short sequence in which Alexander's daughter is
seen naked, chasing chickens through the hall of the house:10 the last
flickerings of the dream.
The dream is over and Maria disappears from the f ut the
very end, when Alexander suddenly becomes aware of her presence,
standing there watching the bug house. He falls to his knees at
her feet, kissing her hands, before being taken away. As the ambu­
lance descibes a broad curve past the house and turs on to the
track, Maria grabs the bicycle lying in the grass and cycles off, taking
a short cut towards the withered tree. There one sees her for the last
time, united momentarily in a single picture with Little Man and
Alexander, before their ways finally part.
The dream is over. One sees Alexander sleeping on the couch, the
electric light buring next to him. He wakes, and almost impercep­
tibly the picture fills with soft colour and light. The nightmare is
132 Andrei Tarkvsk
banished, as he slowly ascertais. The electicity and telephone are
working agai, and a cal to his publisher confirms his hopes. It i as
though nothing had happened. What then is the sense of Alexan­
der's sacrifice? I the aftermath of the dream certain paralels with
the events of the night manfest themselves. A if in the nature of a
cautioning sign, Alexander stumbles into the piano, hurg hs knee,
just as he had when falling fom h bicycle on the way to Maria.
To the modem world Alexander's readiness to sacriice must
seem something of an anachronism. The age of sacriice came to an
end long ago; and yet, faced with destucton, he i prepared to
abandon everything to accomplish the mission of his heart and save
his little son and mankd. Tarkovsky described his leading figure as
a weak person, not a hero in the conventional sense of the word, but
an upright, thg man capable of making a personal sacrifice for
a higher ideal.11 His actions are performed wi�h conviction; but they
also reveal a destructive despair, for Alexander i prepared to risk
incurring the misunderstanding of those nearest and dearest to him,
and being condemned as a madman. Alexander i not the master but
the servant of his fate.
T distinction is signicant, yet it is sometimes difficult to differ­
entiate between the two in reality. Alexander's fate is at the same
time h mission; his opportunity to save the world, to take the stage
again in the service of mankind. History has shown, however, just
how disastrous the urge to fulfil one's apparent destiny can be.
Alexander's calling verges on what society regards as madness; and
although he may claim to have saved the world, his sacrifice is not
confined to himself alone. Although he takes steps to exclude Victor
from material loss and to keep everyone out of harm's way, he
inevitably drags those closest to him into personal tragedy. Alexan­
der's deed is not merely an act of self-sacrifice; it has something of a
sacrificial offering about it.
A small price to pay, one might say, for saving the world; but at
first sight Alexander's sacrifice seems superfluous and too program­
matic. He has woken from a nightmare and the world is in order
again. Only a fool would bum his house down now, surely. In fact,
this tum of events provides an illustration of Tarkovsky's world of
thought. In many of his films he goes to the borders sepa
rating the
rational from the irrational, usually finding explanations for unac­
countable phenomena that allow them to remain within the bounds
of natural law. This became a personal feature of his work, often
containing a formulation of his own faith. In the same way, the
Te Sacrifce 133
miraculous delivery fom certain destuction in Te Sacrifce is a
fndamental statement of belief.
Confonted with global war, Alexander is forced to h knees in
an act of humility and repentance. He reaches out for God, promis­
ing to sacrifce everything and to take a vow of silence, if He wl
avert the catastrophe. But how can a process of universal destruc­
tion, once set in motion, be reversed by te prayers of a recluse?
How can Alexander's strength of belief be demonstrated in a plaus­
ible manner that still observes the natural laws of the world in which
the flm takes place? Alexander's plea i granted. The inevitable
holocaust is averted by the simple device of turing the seemingly
real catastrophe into a dream, from which Alexander now awakes.
This is not a banal, sentimental trick, but a stoke of genius; and
when Alexander, at first scarcely trusting his fortune, slowly reas­
sures himself of the fact, he does not back out of his vow, but
acknowledges this wonderful transformation of h horror into a
dream fom which he may awake as an act of God, as God's active
but unseen answer to his prayers. It is no mere happy coincidence,
not just a false alarm but the only way God could intervene without
overtly revealing himself. More than ever Alexander must honour
his vows now, he feels, even if it means incurring the misunder­
standing and despair of others. To keep faith and to preserve h
own peace of mind he is prepared to risk a verdict of insanity in the
eyes of the world.
I view of the 'last chance' of escape Otto presents him with, one
might of course ask whether Alexander's sacrce was really neces­
sary. Having swor to forsake all worldly possessions and relation­
ships, he is suddenly confronted with the promise of redemption
through Maria. Is this an immediate answer to his prayers, the
response to his vow, or is it an alterative to sacrifce? One might
equally ask, in view of Alexander's readiness to honour his pledge,
whether God might not have intervened at the last moment to pre­
vent him carrying out his terrible deed, just as He had stopped
Abraham taking the life of Isaac. Both questions are, however, irrel­
evant. There can be no room for doubt in Alexander's mind; a failure
to act would be to back down on his promise and retur to the
prevarication he abhors; and a direct intervention by God would
invalidate the very rules Tarkovsky seeks to observe.
The supposition that this whole central episode is but a dream is
supported by a number of circumstances: by the many references to
sleep; by the seemingly irrational, dream-like actions that occur; and
13 Andrei Tarkovsk
by Tarkovsky's use of a differentiating colo

r code. The entre cen­
tral, noctal section of te f - from the tme Alexander goes out
into the garden to seek Little Man and fids �aria and t�e mo
del of
the house, to the time he wakes on the couch m the morg - IS cast
in the form of a dream and i photographed in darkly lit sequences
virtually devoid of colour. The everyday waking reality of beginning
and end is painted in the pale, natural colours o�a northe

framing the interior world of the dream. There IS also a thrrd l
el of
photography: the black and white or sepia se
es of the VISions,
or the scenes from other ties, past or future, mset mto the coloured
reality and into the sombre central section.
Maria stands at the begng and end of this dark fantasy, the
entrance to which is via the model of the house set on the blasted
earth and built as a birthday present for Alexander by Little Man
and Otto. I embarkng upon this apocalyptic midsummer nights
dream Alexander enters a labyrinth akn perhaps to the Zone m
Stalke-The fact that he may awake from this dream and find the
world as it was before does nothing to lessen the horror of the vision.
If anything, it illustrates a nghtmarish perspective of Shakespeare's
own play.
. .
What then is the ultimate signicance of Alexander's sacrifce?
Can one compare it to the sacrifce Tarkovsky made i giv�

up his
home to contnue creatg flms? However great that sacrifce may
have been, it does not stand comparison with the threatened holo­
caust; and, as one has seen, Tarkovsk was careful to filter out any
too overtly personal references in this work. He described
his f as
having the form of a parable that allows a number of mterpreta­
tions.12 It i a sacrfice we may all be called upon to make one day: the
relinquishment of a materialist, expansionist world


tained by exploitation and nuclear power, a world of mteratio

rivalries that verge on and sometimes spill over into armed conict.
It is a sacrifice in favour of love and the belief in a different future. Is
it possible, however, for man to tur back

ho¬o� the holocaust
Grass describes in his book and Tarkovsky m his film? The threat
alone would seem to be insufficient.
That this glimpse into the abyss 'no more yield

d but a dream'
seems certain. But one may also ask whose dream 1t was - Alexan­
der's or Little Man's? As in The Steamroller and the Violin and The
Mirror, much of the film is seen as if through the eyes of a child. The
sleeping child motif recurs throughout the film. Little Man sleeps
through the entire night-war section - he dare not be woken; the
Te Sacrifce
dream has to be dreamt. In the second of the apocalyptic street
cenes one catches a glimpse of the little boy asleep again; and
fally, at the end of the flm, he lies down beneath the tree, his work
done, perhaps to sleep and dream and brng the stor fll circle,
back to its starting point. Is the film Alexander's dream of his son, or
Lite Man's dream of his father; vision of the past or of the future?
Past and future are fsed together or are ambivalent, a situation
encountered i other flms by Tarkovsk. The sacrifce i that which
one generation brings for another, Alexander for Little Man, Christ
for God, and for mannd.
I true Tarkovskian maner identities merge. Little Man, whose
recover of speech coincides with Alexander's vow of silence, is his
father's contuaton or his alter ego. Maria and Adelaide become one
i Alexander's md, a mode interretation perhaps of the en­
chantments and consions of a play by Shakespeare. Otto's collec­
tion of stange phenomena echoes in the mind. The unity of tme and
place comes fl circle. But this is only one of the cycles i which the
flm abounds and to which Otto refers i his debate with Alexander
by the sea at the begn g.
Perhaps Alexander's black vision is but the unhappy dream of a
child. Tarkovsky allows us to view the world from both ends of the
telescope. In both cases what remains is the fture; and perhaps one
day 'the tree of lie, which is in the midst of . . . paradise'13 wl
bloom, and Alexander's sacrifce, whether it took place in reality or
in the imagination of his little son, wl not have been in vain.
Andrei Tarkovsky' s reputaton rests on a slender rvre of eight fims
- including his 46minute diploma submission Te Steamroller and
the Violin - made over a period of lttle more than 25 years.1 Boris
Pasterak apparently prophesied (in a seance) that Tarkovsky would
realise only eight films in h life, the trth of which the diector,
with his fasciaton for precogniton and extrasensory phenomena,
came to acknowledge a year before he died.2 Tarkovsky's contribu­
tion to cinema cannot be measured simply by the number of films he
made, however. Any one of his works might hve secured h a
place in ciema history. He was arguably the outstanding flm maker
of his generation, a generation that included many great names. An
original thinker who gave new impulses to cinema, he was one of
those rare creative spirits who exert a lastig influence on the world
of art and ideas beyond their own immediate discipline.
It was his ambition to raise the art of flm to the level of the great
works of poetry, painting or music, to that of Dostoevsky, Leonardo
or Bach - and it was with this humanist-Christian tradition that he
identified. Despite his essentially Russian upbringing and tempera­
ment, it was the universal aspects of European culture that inter­
ested h and that ultimately make his work so widely accessible.
That his fs will give birth to a new school of cinema seems
unlikely at the moment. The younger generation of directors in the
former Soviet Union associated with Tarkovsky' s name -
Lopushansky, Ovcharov, Kaidanovsky or Sokurov, for example -do
not represent a school in the traditonal sense of that term. What
links them is a common spirit, the inspiration of Tarkovsky's vision,
and a resolute and often wilf individuality, also to be found in the
work of other directors such as loseliani or the late Sergei
Paradzhanov. On the other hand, Tarkovsky's continued influence
on interational film making can be seen in the popularity of certain
techniques or stylistic devices derived from h films. The use of
black and white sequences alongside colour as a means of differen­
tiation, the insertion of documentary scenes, the quotation of visual
metaphors and the exploration of dream and memory have now
become familiar elements of modem cinema.3
Tarkovsky himself acknowledged the genius of directors as dif­
ferent in style as Bergman, Bresson and Buiuel, Dovzhenko,

Epiloge 137
Kurosawa and Mizoguchi -without admittg their mentorship. H
own world of ciema remais hghly individual. A child of the
Staliist era and the Second World War, he was bor too late to
partcipate in the aesthetic experiments of the Revolution and died
too early to beneft fom the thaw under Gorbachev.
The year of Tarkovsky's death marked a turg point in Soviet
cinema. I May 1986 the executve comittee of the Soviet flm
federation was voted out of ofce and replaced by new representa­
tives under the leadership of Elm Klimov. Feodor Yermash, the
chairman of Goskino who had repeatedly obstructed Tarkovsky's
career, was removed from his post shortly before the directors death.
The new poltical climate in the Soviet Union resulted in the release
of large numbers of fms that had been kept on the shelves for years.
I additon, there was a burgeoning of new film production, and in
particular of works dealing with contoversial themes. The critical
examnaton of the past that took place i public life found a remark­
able forum in the cinema. I 1988 the frst festival of independent
films was held in Riga.
The increase in Soviet fim producton was al the more remark­
able in view of the grim economic conditions prevaing in the former
member states. The opening of the Soviet Union and its fnal disin­
tegraton accelerated the division of f activities into a number of
national currents. At the same time there has also been an influx of
Wester influences, and in particular a growing market for US com­
mercial flm products. I the fture one may expect an increase i co­
productions with Wester organisatons.
. Tarkovsky witessed none of this and remained sceptical towards
the iitial signs of change under Gorbachev.4 The path Tarkovsky
followed was a personal one. The films he managed to realise were
wrested in a sense from the circstances in which he found h¯
self; and in the end, it seemed as though he was overtaken by the
events and images he had conjured on the screen - by emigration,
nostalgia and sacrifce, by his horses, and the Apocalypse and the
vision of St John: 'And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his
name that sat on h was Death.'5
Notes to te Intoducon
1 .
Filmed intervew with Andrei Tarkovsky by Donatella Baglio, 1983.
Se Tarkovsky' s early autobiographical submission to the State Shool
for Film (VGI) in Moscow.
Maya Turovskaya, Tarkvsky: Cinema as Po� (L
ndon, 1989) pp. 1_f.
1n the course of 2 years' work in the SVet Uron I have made fve
films; in other words, one f every four and a half years. I one
calculates the tme needed to make a filas, on average, one year plus
a certain amount of time for the screenplay, I have been uemployed
for 16 of the 2 years. Goskino sells my films successfully abroad,
whilst I often do not knowhowI am to support my family. Since you
have been in offce, you have not once used your official authority to
give me the goahead for a producton. It was o�y possible to co�­
mence shootng the fm Te Mirror after I had wntten to the executive
committee of the 24th Party Congress of the Comunist Party of the
Sviet Union and the film Stalkr after I had written a letter to the 26th
Party Congr�ss. I cannot contnually pester our
highest party bodies
or wait every time for the next party congress, m order to be able to
work in a maner befittng my qualifications' (Geran press brochure
to Te Sacrifce; translated by P.G.).
'Help me! Enable me to escape fom this unprecedented ha�g.
Permit me to stage Hamlet and Pushin's Boris Godunov here m the
West, with the thought that I shall retur in three years' �e and
make a flm about the life and signcance of Dostoevsky' (1b1d.).
On 10 July 1984 a press conference was h�ld in
the Palazz

Mian, at which Tarkovsky declared his mtention of remammg m the
West. According to a bulletin issued by the GeI P

ess Agency
(DPA), the flm maker had applied to the US embassy m Rome for
• politcal asylum in the USA. This was report�d b� the Roman Cath?"
lie lay organisation Movimento Popolare m Milan (see report m
Suddeutsche Zeitung, Munich, 1 0 July 1984).
Michal Leszczylowski, 'A Year with Andrei', Sight and Sound, Autumn
1987, p. 283.
. . .. . . . .
Andrej Tarkovskij, Hofannzana, Szenano fr eznen nzcht realzszerten
Film (Munich, 1987).
Leszczylowski, 'A Year with Andrei', p. 284.
AP/Reuter report, January 1987.
William Fisher, 'Gorbachev's Cinema', Sight and Sound, Autumn 1987,
p. 242.
. . = + .
Andrey Tarkovsky, Sculptzng zn Tzme: Refectzons on the Cmema (Lon-
don, 1986) chapter heading, pp. 36f.
Ibid., p. 40.
Ibid., p. 43.
Notes 139
15. Te Blake Sciety, St James's Church, Piccadilly, London. A video
recording of this talk exists, an excerpt from which is also included in
a flmed portrait of Tarkovsky's last years made by Ebbo Demant for
the Geran Sidwestnk broadcasting network in 1987.
16. Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 62.
17. Ibid., p. 57.
18. Turovskaya, Tarkvsky, p. 82.
19. Tarkovsky' s Sapechatlyonnoye Vreya appeared in GeIy under the
title Die versiegelte Zeit (1984) and in the U under the title Sculpting in
Time (1986).
20. I Te Sacrifce, for example, a white horse led by Little Man originally
appeared towards the end of Alexander's dream. The scene was omit­
ted in the fnal version of the flm. See Leszczylowski, 'A Year with
Andrei', p. 283.
21. Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, pp. 66 and 72.
2. Ibid., p. 68.
23. Andrej Tarkowskij, Die versiegelte Zeit (Berlin and Franfurt, 1984)
p. 120. The passage is not contained in the English tanslaton.
24. Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 200.
25. Ibid., p. 192.
26. Ibid., pp. 212f.
27. 'There is always water in my flms. I like water, especally brooks. The
sea is too vast. I don't fear it; it is just monotonous. I nature I like
smaller things. Microcosm, not macrocosm; limited surfaces. I love the
Japanese attitude to natue. They concentate on a confned space
reflecting the ite. Water is a mysterious element due to its . . .
structure. And it is ver cinegenic; it tansmits movement, depth,
changes. Nothing is more beautiful than water' . (Andrei Tarkovsky,
fom Englsh press brochure to Te Sacrifce, 1986).
28. Maja Turowskaja and Felicitas Allardt-Nostitz, Andrej Tarkwskij: Film
als Poesie, Poesie als Film (Bonn, 1981) p. 97.
29. Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 168.
30. T. Rothschild, 'Glaube, Demut, Hofung (Hofung?)', Medium (Frank­
furt-am-Main), Jan.-Mar. 1987, pp. 59f.
31. For example, in Stalkr the movement of the glasses across the table
mght be a case of telekinesis, or caused simply by the vibraton of a
passing train.
32. Tarkowskij, Die versiegelte Zeit (3rd edn, 1988) p. 270.
33. Turowskaja and Allardt-Nostitz, Andrej Tarkowskij, pp. 101f. Se also
Charles E. Passage, Te Russian Hofannists, Slavistic Printings and
Reprintings, vol. 35 (The Hague, 1963).
3. 'Ein Feind der Symbolik', interview with Andrei Tarkovsky by Irena
Brezna, Tip (Berlin), no. 3, 1984.
35. Cf. Yon Bara, Eisenstein (London, 1973) pp. 62f., and Tarkovsky,
Sculpting in Time, p. 168.
36. Ibid., pp. 119 and 183.
37. The 'montage of attractions' theory was published in 1923 in
Mayakovsky's LEF magazine.
140 Notes
38. The average lengt of the sequences in T Mirror is approximately 23
seconds; in Stalkr it is 1 minute 6 seconds.
39. Leszczylowski, 'A Year with Andrei', p. 284. (Leszczylowski was edi­
tor of T Sacrifce.)
4. Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, pp. 159 and 162.
41 . Andrei Tarkovsk, English prP$S brochure to T Sacrifce (Swedish
Film Institute, Stockholm, 1986): 'To me, black and white is more
expressive ad realistc, bcause it dos not distra
the sp

tator but
enables h to concentrate on the essence of the f. I t colour
made the cinematographic a more false and less tue.' Se also
Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, pp. 138f.
Notes to Ca
ter 1: Te Steamroller and the Violin
1 . Andrei (Mikhalkov-) Konchalovsky, today a well-known director in
his own right, also collaborated with Tarkovsky on the screenplay of
Andrei Rublyov. I T Stemroller and the Violin Tarkovsky established
other long-ter working relatonships as well. The caera, Vadim
Yusov, and the composer, Vyacheslav Ovcn ov, were to colabo­
rate on al Tarkovsky's early fs.
2. According to Tarkovsky there are only 35 spken sentences in this
flm. Se Maya Turovskaya, Tarkvsky: Cinea Ü Poetr (London, 1989)
p. 28.
3. Ibid
, p. 23.
. . . . .
4. Tarkovsky pointedly underlines the Situaton by �g the Object

their desires the cnema, where the prewar Russian flm Chapaye IS
being shown. Made in 1934 by Georgi and Srgei Vasilev, the filmis
one of the most successfl works in the histor of Soviet cnema. It is
based on the novel of the same name by Dt Funanov, published
in 1923. The f, an example of Sviet Realism, describes the fate of
the Red Army comander Chapayev in the years after the Revolu­
5. Studio discussion minutes. Se Turovskaya, Tarkovsky, p. 28.
6. Iid., p. 17.
7. T Stemroller and the Violin was produced in the deaent for
children's and youth f of the Mosffim studios.
8. In quite a different respect, the film does provide a clue to the recep­
tion of many of Tarkovsky' s later works. Although the Soviet press
received Te Steamroller and the Violin favourably, it was criticised
within the department for children's and youth films of Mosfilm for
inadequacies in the characterisaton of some of the roles. Tarkovsky
changed to a new collectve wit�n the s�dios sho
ly afterards
incident reveals two aspects of his working style: his uncompromismg
stance towards outside influence on his ideas; and the problem of
communication with his actors.
9. See notes from the English press brochure to The Sacrifce (1986); and
Andrey Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time (London, 1986) pp. 138f.
10. �peripheral theme, pe


, but one that signifcantly recurs in other
f by Tarkovsky. It IS bnefly mentoned here in the conversation
between Srgei and Sasha over lunch.
11 Here, for example, Tarkovsky's experiences at the local music school
he att

nded f
r seven years; or the absence of any trace of Sasha' s
father M the f.
Notes to Ca
ter 2: Ivan's Childhood

omolov, Ivan, fst published 1958.
Instrctions Issued by the director-general of Mosflm on 10 Decem­
ber 1960; see Maya Turovskaya, Tarkovsk: Cinea as Poetr (London
p. 29. Turovskaya gives a detailed account of the production of
ths ffim.

drey Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time (London, 1 986) p. 33.
Ibid., p. 18.
Turovskaya, Tarkovsk, p. 31 .
Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 16.
Turovskaya, Tarkvsk, p. 32.
Maja Turowskaja and Felicts Allardt-Nosttz Andrej Tarkwskij" Film

- Poesie als Film (Bonn, 1981) p. 1 3. ci'e English tansiation
onts this reference.)
Fil�ed inte�ew with Andrei Tarkovsky by Donatella Baglivo, 1985.
Unlike Ivan
s father, Tar�ovsky' s father, Arseniy, did retur from the
war. After his home-commg, however, he lived in separation from his
wife and children.
Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 38.
Hans Stempel

in Filmkri

ik (Fran�

-am-Main) Nov. 1963, pp. 529ff.
the same
time there IS a certam rrony to the situation, since the
Ji rer
uotations are also a reference to Tarkovsky's own preocupa­
ton Wth the Apocalypse and the humanism of the Renaissance.
Tarkovsky himself was not happy with certain of the locatons and
sets; and he attributes the failure of some of the scenes to capture the
imaginaton of the

to the lack of pregnancy of these settings
for actors and audience alike. See Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time pp.
31f, and Stempel, in Filmkritik.
Stempel, in Filmkritik.
Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 29.


ky himself was not satisfied with this sequence of the flm,
descnbmg how the poorer of two alterative versions was inserted at
editing stage and how this mistake proved irreversible (see ibid.,
pp. 31f).
At an earlier date the ruined church, in which the Russians have their
uarters, had evidently been occupied by German troops: The
Russians whom they held prisoner in the cellar had scrawled the
following words upon the wall: 'There are 8 of us, none of us older
than 19. In an hour they will shoot us. Avenge us!'
142 Notes
18. The bell-casting episode in Andrei Rublyov is in itself an act of faith on
the part of Boriska, the young boy who pretends to know the secret of
the process and who, to his own surprise, succeeds in his undertaking.
The role of Boriska was perfored by Kolya Burlyaev, who also
played the part of Ivan.
19. The bucket of water reoccurs like a leitmotf in the dreams. Cf. the
scene at the well (dream 2), and the final dream, when Ivan quenches
his thirst fromthis bucket. The image of the well returs in T Mirror.
20. More perhaps than any of his later flms, Ivan's Childhood is indebted
to Dovzhenko. Like Tarkovsky, he too had undergone a taining in
paintng, a fact that is refected in the rich visual quality of their films,
in the lyrical images and the fusion of all kinds of elements into a
single universal vision.
21. This or a similar withered tee has previously been mentoned in the
context of the war. In a telephone conversation in '51' headquarters,
Colonel Gryaznov refers to the fact that there are too many Gerans
in the vicinity of this tree to enable a particular operaton to be carried
out. Cf. the dead, broken tees in Caspar David Friedrich's paintngs;
e.g. 'Winter', 1807-8.
22. Turowskaja and Allardt-Nosttz, Andrej Tarkowskij, p. 19 (the English
version of the book omits this reference).
23. Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 21.
24. Stempel, in Filmkritik, and Tarkovsk, Sculpting in Time, p. 30.
25. L'Unita, 9 October 1962. Cf. Turowskaja and Allardt-Nostitz, Andrej
Tarkowskij, pp. 143f.
Notes to Chapter 3: Andre Rublyov
1 . Colin McEvedy, T Penguin Atlas ofMedieal Histor (Harondsworth,
Middx, 1969) p. 66.
2. Ibid., p. 80.
3. Tarkovsky had originally hoped to be able to include the decisive
victory of the Russians over the Tartars on the Field of Kulikovo in
Andrei Rublyov. Financial considerations rled this out, however. For
a description of this aspect of the filmsee Maya Turovskaya, Tarkovsky:
Cinema as Poetry (London, 1 989) p. 47.
4. Ivan I (the Terrible) (1533-84) was the first ruler to adopt the title of
Czar in 1547.
5. Ivan III married Sofia Palaeologa, niece of Constantine XI, the last
Byzantine Emperor.
6. Andronik Spasa Nerukotvomogo Monastery, founded c. 1360 by Met­
ropolitan Aleksei in Moscow on the bank of the Iauza River. 'An
outpost on the south-east approaches to Moscow, the monastery pro­
tected the city from the Mongolian Tartars.' It was named after its first
abbot, Andronik. From the end of the fourteenth century the monas­
tery was responsible for the copying of books. In the Spasski Cathe­
dral, built between 1420 and 1427 are the remains of frescos painted
under the supervision of Daniil Chomiy and Andrei Rublyov. Rublyov
Notes 143
spent the last years of his life in this monastery and was buried there.
I 1947 it was opened as a museum of old Russian art and named after
Andrei Rublyov (Great Soviet Encyclopaedi, vol. Üy p. 95).
7. It was not usual for Russian masters to sign their works at t tme.
Atibutions to Rublyov can therefore only be made on the basis of
docmentary or stylistic evidence. He probably exected works in
Vladimir, Moscow and Zvengorod. Many of these now hang in Mos­
cow. Rublyov possibly visited Constantinople and even Venice in the
course of his life, although this i not recorded.
8. Andrey Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time (London, 1986) p. 3.
9. Ibid., p. 78.
10. The concept of the synchronism of time. See also p. 50 and F. Allardt­
Nostitz, 'Spuren der Deutschen Romantik in den Filmen Andrej
Tarkowskijs', in Maja Turowskaja and Felicitas Allardt-Nostitz, Andrej
Tarkowskij: Film als Poesie, Poesie als Film (Bonn, 1981) p. 109.
11. Ibid., p. 4.
12. In the epilogue, details of the following works by or attbuted to
Rublyov can be seen: 'The Redeemer Lives', 'The Nativity', ' The
Raising of Lzars' 'The Entry into Jersalem', ' The Apostle', ' The
Death of Mary' and 'The Old Testament Trinity' (see ibid., p. 110).
13. 'Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not
charity . . . ', words from Î Corinthians 13: 1, spoken during this scene.
14. Painted for the Troiza (Holy Trinty) Monastery of St Srgius i 1425,
two years after the events of the final chapter of the f, the work
now hangs in the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
15. Whitsun, the Church festival assocated with the Trinity and the de­
scent of the Holy Spirit in the for of a dove, i of Old Testament
origin. The Jews celebrated it to mark the handing down of the laws to
Moses on Mount Sinai and the Covenant with God. I the Orthodox
calendar this festival occurs seven weeks after Easter (in the Jewish
calendar on the 50th day after the feast of the Passover). O the day of
the lawgiving on Sinai, on the 50th day after the Resurection of
Christ, the promise of redempton was fulfilled, in that the Holy Ghost
descended on the disciples.
The idea of the Trinity in the Old Testament is to be found in
Genesis 18, where three angels in the guise of men appear to Abraham
in the plains of Mare. The plains (or grove) of Mare were vener­
ated as a place of holy manifestations by both heathens and Jews.
Heathen sacrifces are also known to have taken place there.
16. For a fller discssion of the nature and role of icons, see Leonid
Ouspensky and Vladimir Lossky, De Sinn der Ikonen (Ber and Olten,
17. Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, illus., p. 78.
18. The Uspenski Cathedral in Vladimir, where Rublyov worked in 1408.
19. Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, pp. 37 and 224.
20. See Auf der Suche nach der verlorenen Zeit; Andrej Tarkowskijs Exil und
Tod, film by Ebbo Demant, Siidwestfunk, 1987. See also Tarkovsky,
Sculpting in Time, p. 227.
21 . Ibid., p. 168.
144 Notes
22. By a stroke of fate Kolya Bulyaev, the youg actor who had por­
trayed Ivan, was also called upon to play the role of Boriska in Andrei
Rublyov. For a descripton of the events leading up to t choice, see
Maya Turovskaya, Tarkovsky: Cine as Poetr (London, 1989) p. 45.
23. Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 78.
24. The Bregel-lie panoramas i the snow recr later in Solaris and Te
Mirror, for example.
25. The story of Jonah and the whale as a prefguraton of the Entomb­
ment and Resurection of Christ, for example.
26. 'Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanites; all is vanity.
What profit hath a man of all h labour which he taketh under the
sun? One generaton passeth away, and another generation cometh,
but the earth abideth for ever' (Ecclesiastes 1: 2-4). Tarkovsky's preoc­
cpation with this and other passages fom Ecclesiastes is described in
the article 'A Year with Andrei' by Michal Leszczylowski, covering
the last year of the director's life (Sight and Sound, Autun 1987, pp.
27. The fgure of Christ actually eats the snow.
28. The veronica?
29. Turowskaja and Allardt-Nosttz, Andrej Tarkowskij, p. 111; in his stage
directon of Hamlt in Moscow in 1977, Tarkovsky did not diferenti­
ate the ghost of Hamlet's father from the living characters.
30. Cf. the scene in T Stemroller and the Violin when Srgei reproves
Sasha for throwing the loaf of bread to the groud.
31 . Vyacheslav Ovchn ov also wrote the music to Ivan's Childhood.
32. The silence motif is also echoed in T Sacrifce by Victor's reference to
Gandhi's abstinence from speech one day a week and, of course, by
Alexander's ow vow of silence.
33. The crcmstances of Rublyov's vow of silence have ben handed
down in history (see Turowskaja and Allardt-Nosttz, Andrej Tarkwskij,
p. 45).
3. A metaphor for the Crucon and Resurrection of Christ, perhaps,
the depiction of which follows the moral discussion between
Theophanes and Rublyov.
35. Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 204.
36. Kyrill's accusation is perhaps not entirely without foundaton. The
monasteries were among the greatest landowners i Russia at that
time, a circmstance that may be contrasted with a powerful strain of
asceticism and 'apostolic poverty' among the monks. See V. H. H.
Green, Renaissance and Reformation (London, 1965) p. 373.
37. The bird held in the hand is a symbol of the divine child; cf. The Mirror.
38. The contemporary Moscow chronicle Troitskya Letopis describes the
work of the icon painters Andrei Rublyov and Daniil Chory as
begun in May 1408 (see Turowskaja and Allardt-Nostitz, Andrej
Tarkowskij, p. 153, note 31). Among the works in Vladimir attributed to
Rublyov were panels of St John the Baptist, St Paul, St Peter and the
Ascension (Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 10, p. 228).
39. In the history of depictions of 'The Last Judgement' the subject was
not always treated as a horrific vision. This depended on the aspect

Notes 145
that the arst chose to emphasise -the joyful rising of the blessed into
heaven, or the fall of the damned. Cf. Rubens's teatent of the theme.
40. For evidence of Dani l's contnued existence in the 1420s senote 6.
41. Ï Corinthians 11: 5: 'Every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with
her head uncovered dishonoureth her head; . . . i the wom be not
covered, let her also be shor.' Tarkovsky also saw a reference across
tme here to the heaps of women's h in Auschwitz; (see Turovskaya,
Tarksk, p. 47).
42. 'I wish to make an historical f that is also a topical fø I wish to
bring together the mentality of the people of the fftenth century and
that of te people of today, quoted from an interview wth Tarkovsky
in 1965 published in Sputnik (Moscow Film Festival publication, 1965).
Sealso Cinea 65 (Pars), no. 9, Sept./Oct. 1965, p. 61; U. Gregor,
Geschichte des Films ab 1960 (Munich, 1978) p. 273.
43. Gregor, Geschichte des Films ab 1960, p. 273.
Notes to Capter 4: Solars
1. At one point the Swedish actress Bibi Andersson was considered for
the role of Harey. But Tarkovsky felt that a younger person was
needed for the part (se Andrey Tarkovsky, Time within Time: T
Diries 1970-1986 (Calctta, 1991) p. 5 (For general notes on the mak­
ing of the f_ see ibid., pp. 3- 79.)
2. Ibid., pp. 49ff. Tarkovsky quotes a list of over 35 objectons, citicsms
and recommended changes with which he was presented from vari­
ous official sources.
3. Andrey Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time (London, 1986) pp. 198f, 208.
4. Stalislaw Lem, Solaris (Geran translation, Munich, 1983) pp. 22f.
5. Cf. the apple motfs in T Steamroller and the Violin and Ivan's Child­
hood; or the Marian metaphors of purificaton in the jug and water of
T Sacrifce.
6. Maya Turovskaya, Tarkvsky: Cinema as Poetr (London, 1989) p. 53.
7. See Paracelsus and the story of Undine by Friedrich de la Motte
Fouque (1811). For the significance of this legend for the German
Romantcs and for Tarkovsky, see Felicitas Allardt-Nostitz i Maja
Turowskaja and Felicitas Allardt-Nostitz, Andrej Tarkwskij, Film als
Poesie - Poesie als Film (Bonn, 1981) p. 115.
8. Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, pp. 86f. In his book Tarkovsky sets
pictures of 'Harey' s death and resurrection' opposite two quotations
from Corinthians discussing the Resurection of Christ.
9. Lem, Solaris, p. 83.
10. There are parallels here to the story of Diko-6braz and his brother in
11. Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, pp. 62ff.
12. Ibid., p. 58.
13. Ibid., p. 199.
14. To what extent the colour changes here are due to technical con­
straints or even faulty material is not clear.
146 Notes
15. Red and blue were the colours of the two suns about which the planet
Slaris ted.
16. Tarkovsky, Time within Time, p. 100.
17. Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 199.
18. Ibid., p. 145.
19. Ibid., p. 148.
20. Turowskaja and Allardt-Nosttz, Andrej Tarkowskj, p. 117. Alardt­
Nostitz describes the fozen lake and the rain inside the house as
symbols of death comonly used by the Romantcs.
Notes to Capter 5: Te Miror
Maya Turovskaya, Tarkovsky: Cinema as Poetr (London, 1989) p. 61.
Cf. p. 69.
Andrey Tarkovsky, Time within Time: Te Diries 1970-1986 (Calctta,
1991) p. 13.
Ibid., pp. 69, 1 and 87. 'Martyrology' (Martyrolog) was the heading
Tarkovsky orginally wrote over his diary in 1970. The ttle was sub­
sequently used for the extract fom these diares (1970- 86) first pub­
lished in 1989. See also Andrej Tarkowskij, Mrtyrolog, Tagebic
1970-1986 (Berlin, 1989) p. 6.
The f opens with a prologue i whch a television set is switched
on. For a discussion of the characteristics of television as a medium,
see David Russell, 'A World in Inaction', Sight and Sound, Summer
1990, pp. 174-9. See also Andrey Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time
(London, 1986) p. 129.
Tarkovsky, Time within Ti1e, p. 41.
See Andrei Rublyov, note 3, p. 142.
Tarkovsky, Time within Time, pp. 61f., 73 and 78. Tarkovsky's embit­
tered remarks on Yusov's departure may be compared with Yusov's
subsequent positive reaction to the flm (see Tarkovsky, Sculpting in
Time, p. 135).
Tarkovsky, Time within Time, p. 97f.
Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 101 (translaton by Kitty Hunter­
This dream episode finds a parallel in the dilapidated state of
Tarkovsky's own flat (see Tarkovsky, Time within Time, p. 81).
Cf. the moment towards the end of the f when the young girl with
the red hair and cracked, bleeding lips, whom the father (Alexei) had
once admired and whom he describes to his son in a telephone con­
versation, appears to Alexei as a reflection in a miror.
Cf. the scene in the street of the abandoned hill town in Nostalgia,
where Gorchakov encounters the reflection of Domenico in the mir­
rored cupboard door.
At one point Tarkovsky was considering casting Bibi Andersson in the
role of the wife and mother. In the end he was unable to obtain
permission to do so (see Tarkovsky, Time within Time, pp. 6 and 41 ).

Notes 147
Oleg Yankovsky was later to play the role of Gorchakov in Nostalgi.
Tarkovsky, Time within Time, p. 91.
Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 143.
Ibid., p. 174.
See Tarkovsky's interview with Irena Brezna, published in Tip
(Berli), no. 3, 1984.
Compare the dress wor by Margarita Terekhova in the part of Masha
Ü a young woman with that of Tarkovsky's own mother, Maria
Ivanova (se Takovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 100, and Tarkovsky,
Time within Time, plate 3).
Maria Ivanovna Tarkovskaya, Tarkovsky's mother, worked for most
of her life as a profreader in a printing f.
Played by Tarkovskys second wife Larissa.
Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, pp. 91f and 156.
SeTarkovsky's interview with Brezna.
Tarkovsky, Time within Time, p. 19.
A tanslaton of t letter is contained in Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time,
p. 195.
Cf. the well and the mother in Ivan's Childhood.
The sickbed scene and the encounter with death are perhaps echoes of
the heart attack Tarkovsky suffered in the early months of 1973 (see
Tarkowskij, Mrtyrolog, p. 116).
Kenneth Clark, Lonardo d Vinci (Harmondsworth, Middx, 1959)
pp. 28f.
Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, pp. 1 08f.
Eduard Artemiev, whom Tarkovsky wished tocompose the music for
T Mirror, as he had done for Solari and was subsequently to do for
Stalkr, had to little tme to produce a fl score. In addition to
Artemiev' s electronic music, Tarkovsk ted to arrangements of
works by J. S. Bc, Pergolesi and Purcell that had autobiographical
associations (see Tarkovsky, Time within Time, p. 92, and Tarkovsky,
Sculpting in Time, p. 158).
Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 116.
Ert Bloh, Das Prinzip Hofung (Frankfurt, 1973) p. 1628. Bloch
speaks of 'Heimat', which corresponds roughly to the English word
'home' in its wide range of meanings.
Notes to Capter 6: Stalker
1. Arkadi and Boris Stugatski, Roadside Picnic (Harmondsworth, Middx,
1979). See also the German edition with an epilogue by Stanislaw Lem
- note 6.
2. For the history of the inception and making of Stalkr see Andrey
Tarkovsky, Time within Time: The Diries 1970-1986 (Calcutta, 1991)
pp. 66-182.
3. It was even rumoured that Tarkovsky had destroyed the material in
dissatisfaction, or in anger at the cuts demanded of him. See Peter
Buchka, 'Die Kunst als Opfer', Siiddeutsche Zeitung (Munich),
148 Notes
30 December 1986.
4. Alexander Knyazhinsky replaced Gosha Rerbrg as director of pho­
tography. Se Tarkovskys remarks about the latter in Tarkovsky,
Time within Time, pp. 146£. .
5. Andrey Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time (London, 1986) p. 200.
6. Arkadi and Boris Stugatzki, Picknick am Wegesrand, with a postscipt
by Stanislaw Lem (Fran-am-Main, 1981) p. 23.
7. Ibid. , p. 212.
8. Maja Turowskaja and Felictas Allardt-Nosttz, Andre Tarkwskij, Film
als Poesie - Poesie als Film (Bonn, 1981) pp. 131-2.
9. The stlker responds to this with a counter-quotaton fromthe Gospel
according to St Luke.
10. Stgatzki, Picknick am Wegesrand, p. 212.
11. Tarkovsk, Sculpting i n Time, p. 193.
12. Ibid., p. 198.
13. Cf. Nostalgi, note 16, p. 149.
14. Cf. the phenomenon of materialisaton in Solaris.
15. Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, pp. 155 and 158; Andrey Tarkowskij, Di
versiegelte Zeit (Berlin, 198) p. 185 (the English editon of the work
omits the reference to Ioselian).
16. Tarkovsky, Time within Time, pp. 174 and 181.
17. Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 193.
18. At the begn g of the f the glass on the tray would clearly seem
to be moved by the vibratons of the passing tain. At the end of the
f, however, Martha fixes the glasses and a jar with her gaze. They
begin to move acoss the table long before the tain approaches. The
dog whimpers uneasily. Finally, the glass containing the m falls
from the table.
19. At one point Tarkovsky actually considered making one of his pro­
tagonists a wom. Se Tarkovsky, Time within Time, p. 105.
20. Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 199.
Notes to Chapter 7: Nostalga
1 . Maxan Sasontovich Beryozovsky (174577), also known as Pavel
Ssnovsky. Among the works for which he is best known is the opera
Deofont, composed in 1773 to a text by Metastasio for the opera in
2. Andrey Tarkovsk, Sculpting in Time (London, 1986) p. 202.
3. The ttle of the f is confrmed in a diary entry dated 17 July 1979;
see Andrey Tarkovsky, Time within Time: Te Diries 1970-1986 (Cal­
cutta, 1991) p. 188.
4. See Introduction, note 6, p. 138.
5. Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, pp. 204-.
6. Tarkovsky, Time within Time, pp. 195 and 249. The screenplay was
finally completed in May 1980.
7. Ibid., p. 203.
Notes 149
8. Ibid., p. 198f.
9. Ibid., p. 279.
10. Ibid., p. 328.
11. Cf. Guerra's collaboration with directors such as Angelopoulos,
Antonioni, Fellini.
12. Tarkovsky, Time within Time, p. 188.
13. As Gorchakov enters the church one sees the stone figure of an angel
submerged beneath the water.
14. The saint who plays such an importnt unseen role in the film is
presumably St Catherine of Siena, the patron saint of Italy, a four­
teenth-century mystc who was a mediator between the temporal and
ecclesiastcal princes of that country. She helped to achieve the retur
of the papal seat to Rome from its exile in A vignon and played a
leading role in the reform of the Dominican Order, whose patron saint
she also became.
15. At an earlier stage of the project Gorchakov was to have been killed
accdentally in the steet by a stay bullet fired by a terrorist (see
Tarkovsky, Time within Time, pp. 192 and 242f.).
16. One also recalls the dog in Castaneda's Don Juan. Eva Maria Schmidt
identified the dog with Anubis, the jackal-headed Egyptian god of
death (see Jahrbuch Film 83/84, Munich).
17. Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, pp. 207ff.
18. The girl is combing the bottom of the pool for objects that have been
throw in. A wheel, a doll, bottles, a lamp lie encrsted at the edge
forming yet another stl life.
19. Plato, Te Republic, Book 7. An early screenplay idea noted on 10 April
1979 (see Tarkovsky, Time within Time, p. 180) bore the title 'The End
of the World'. A similar idea is echoed later in the f in the anecdote
that Andrei tells Angela in the flooded church about a man 'saved'
from a pool of water who explains to his rescuer that he actually lives
in the pool.
20. Cf. Tarkovsk's Dostoevsky !Idiot projects.
21. Tarkovsky, Time within Time, p. 174. See also Guardian Lecture (Lon­
don, 1981).
2. Tarkovsky, Time within Time, p. 188.
23. Peter Green, 'The Nostalgia of the Stalker', Sight and Sound, Winter
1984, footnote p. 53.
24. There are similar moments in T Mirror, when the young mother
looks over her shoulder into the past, or when the camera pans be­
tween two different planes of time.
25. Tarkovsky described a visit to Loreto, a well-known place of pilgrim­
age in Italy, where, in the middle of the cathedra a house stands,
brought there from Nazareth. It is allegedly the house in which Christ
was bor. Tarkovsky goes on to describe his inability, or reluctance, to
pray in a Roman Catholic church. Later, he drove to a rined church
in the midst of which he found a tree growing (see Tarkovsky, Time
within Time, pp. 245f.). Cf. Casper David Friedrich's picture of the
Eldena Ruins (1836) depicting a house in the ruins of a church.
150 Notes
Notes to Capter 8: Te Sacrfce
Ginter Grass, Die Rittin (Darmstadt and Neuwied, 1986); English
translation: Te Rat (San Diego, 1987).
Andrei Tarkovsky in an interview with Annie Epelboin in Paris, 15
March 1986. Se English press brochure, T Sacrifce, Swedish Film
Institute, Stockholm, 1986.
These scenes provide a further example of Tarkovsky' s uncanny sense
of anticipation of future tagedy. He was fly convinced that certain
locatons were potentially predestined to catastophe. O the very
spot where these sequences were fmed, Olaf Palme was assassinated
six months later.
Andrej Tarkovskij, Opfer (Munich, 1987) p. 182.
Tarkovsky explained that in Russian the word for 'witch' is derived
fom the verb 'to kow'. The fact that a fim with a similar title had
already been made and that the dual assocatons of 'witch' and 'knowl­
edge' or 'wisdom' were lost in the translaton into Swedish and Eng­
lish were reasons why Tarkovsky changed the original ttle (see Lay !
Alexander, 'Der ratselhafe und geheimnisvolle Andrej Tarkowskij',
SF (Soviet Film), 7 /1989).
Te Sacrifce was 'a settling of accounts with materialism in the West
today . . . with man's godlessness and lack of spirituality . .
and wit

Tarkovsky's wife' (see Auf der Suche nach der verloreen Zezt - Andre;
Tarkowskijs Exil und Tad, a ffim by Ebbo Demant, Sidwest T,
Germany, 1987). Demant describes how the tensions in Tarkovsky's
relationship with his wife during the final months of his life found
expression in the character of Adelaide. At the time of shootng The
Sacrifce he was convinced that his wife was a witch, and he went to
great lengths to portay her in detail in the ffim - down to her hair­
style. See also 'Tarkovsky's Other Woman', an interview with Susan
Fleetwood, Guardin, 6 January 1987.
Tarkovskj, Opfer, p. 179. See also Andrej Tarkowskj, Die versiegelte
Zeit, rev. edn (Berlin, 1988) p. 259.
During the shooting of the final scene, when the fire was laid to the
house, the camera jammed. It was impossible to halt the flames, with
the result that four months' work was lost. The producers suggested
ctting the scene in a new way to salvage some of the material, but :he
scene was so vital to Tarkovsky that he refused to complete the fim
without this sequence in the envisaged for. Finally he managed to
persuade the producers to re-erect the house and the scene was reshot
- this time with two cameras - as Tarkovsky wanted it. Al that was
left of the house was the chimney stack (as in Ivan's Childhood), which
is visible i the scene where Adelaide/Maria sits beside Alexander at
the end of his dream. See Regi Andrej Tarkovskij, a film of the making
of The Sacrifce by Michal Leszczylowski, 1988. Se also Tarkovskij,
Opfer, p. 183.
Tarkovskij, Opfer, p. 181.
This last scene in the sequence was based on a dream Tarkovsky had,
in which he saw himself lying dead on the couch. People knelt around
hm, and among them he saw his mother dressed in white like an
angel. Finally, he saw a girl chasing chickens through the house and a
woman sitting at his feet whom he thought to be his wife; but when
she tured her head it was quite a diferent face he saw. Tarkovsky
managed to persuade the producrs to allow h to shoot this unfore­
seen additional sequence. Only part of it was used in the film,
however. See Layla Alexandra, 'Der ratselhafte und geheimnisvolle
Andrej Tarkowskj', SF, 7/1989.
11. Andrey Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time (London, 1986) p. 209.
12. Tarkovskj, Opfer, p. 1 78.
13. Revelation 2: 7.
Notes to the Epilogue
1. One might compare his cuvre with those of some of his contemporar­
ies: Francois Trffaut (1932--) realised 25 ffims in his lifetime and
Jean-Luc Godard, bor in 1930, had made approximately 50 in the
same period.
2. Andrey Tarkovsky, Time within Time: Te Diaries 1970-1986 (Calcutta,
1991) p. 66, and Andrej Tarkowskj, Martyrolog: Tagebucher 1970-1986
(Berlin, 1989) pp. 103 and 109. See also Ebbo Demant' s f Auf der
Suche nach der verlorenen Zeit - Andrej Tarkowskijs Exil und Tad,
Sidwestfunk T, Gerany, 1987.
3. Wenders's Wings of Desire (1987) with its colour/black and white
code, the use of docmentary material, etc.; Meszaros's Diary for My
Loves (1987) with its inserts of doentary material and time remem­
bered; Klimov' s Fareell (1983� with its evocation of the four elements,
its images of trees and fritfulness as symbols of the earth and life, its
docentary sequences, and indeed near-quotations from scenes in
Tarkovsky's ffims; or Greenaway's Prospera's Books (1991) with its use
of the conventions of paintng and architecture, its still lifes, tableaux
and models and the juxtaposition of different planes of consciousness.
4. Auf der Suche nach der verlorenen Zeit; Andrej Tarkowskijs Exil und Tad,
film by Ebbo Demant, Sidwestfunk, 1987.
5. Revelation 6: 8.
� ·
Te Steamroller and the Violin [Katok i skrpka]
USSR, 1960. 35mm; Sovcolour; 46 m; 1268m.
Production: Mosfih
Directon: Andrei Tarkovsky
Sreenplay: Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky, Andrei Tarkovsky
Director of Photography: Vadim Yusov
Editing: L. Butuzova
Music: Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov
Musical Direction: E. Khachaturyan
Art Direction: S. Agoyan
Costumes: A. Martinson
Sund: V. Kiachkovsky
Special Effects: B. Pluynikov, V. Sevostyanov, A. Rudashenko
Assistant Director: 0. Gerts
Production Manager: A. Karetn
Cast: Igor Fomchenko (Sasha); V. Samansky (Sergei); Nina Arkh

(the girl); Marina Adzhubey (mother); Yura Brusev; Slava Bonsov; Sasha
Vitoslavsky; Sasha Ilin; Kolya Kozarev; Gena Klyashkovsk

; Igor
Kolovikov; Shenya Fedchenko; Tanya Prokhorova; A. Maks1mova;
L. Semyonova; G. Shdanova; M. Figner.
Ivan's Childhood [Ivanovo detstvo; also known as 'My Name Is Ivan' ]
USSR, 1962. 35mm; b/w; 97 mins; 2638.7m.
Production: Mosfilm
Direction: Andrei Tarkovsky
Screenplay: Vladimir Osipovich Bgomolov, Mikhail Papava
(based on the story Ivan by Vladimir Bogomolov)
Story Editor: E. Smimov
Director of Photography: Vadim Yusov
Editing: Ludmila Feyganova
Music: Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov
Musical Direction: E. Khachaturyan
Art Direction: Yevgeniy Chemyaev
Make-up: L. Baskakova
Sound: E. Zelentsova
Special Effects: V. Svostyanov, S. Mukhin
Assistant Director: G. Natanson
Militar Consultant: G. Goncharov
Production Manager: G. Kuznetsov
Cast: Nikolai (Kolya) Burlyaev (Ivan); Valentn Zubkov (Capt. Kholin)
Yevgeny Zharikov (Lt Galtse); S. Krylov (Cpl Ktasonych); Niolai Grink�
(Col. Graznov); D. Milyuteno (old man); Valya Malyavina (Msha); Irma

rkovskaya (Ivan's mother); Andrei Mikhalov-Konchalovsky (soldier
wzth glsses); V. Marenkov; Vera Miturich; Ivan Savkin.
Andrei Rublyov

, 1964-. 35mm; b/w (fnal sequences: Svcolour); original length: 185
Ï; 5180m.
First shown: 1966; Canes Festval: 1969; Soviet release: 1971; London Film
Festival: 1972; U release: 1973.
Production: Mosflm
Direction: Andrei Tarkovsky
Screenplay: Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky, Andrei Tarkovsky
Director of Photography: Vadim Yusov
Editing: Ludma Feyganova (T. Egorychevoy, 0. Shevkunenko)
Music: Vyacheslav Ovcn ov
Art Direction: Yevgeniy Chemyaev (I. Novodereshin, S. Voronkov)
Costumes: L. Novi, M. Abar-Baranovskoy
Sound: E. Zelentsova
Special Effects: V. Svostyanov
2nd Director: I. Petrov
Assistant Directors: B. Oganesyan, A. Macharet, M. Volovich
Production Manager: T. Ogorodnikhova
Cast: Anatoly Slonitsyn (Andrei Rublyov); Ivan Lapikov (Kyrill); Nikolai
Grinko (Daniil); Nikolai Srgeyev (Theophanes the Greek); Irma Raush
Tarkovskaya (def-mute girl); Nikolai (Kolya) Burlyaev (Borisk); Rolan
Bykov (bufoon); Mikhail Kononov (Fomk); Yuri Nazarov (Grand Duk/
his brother); YuriNikulin (Patriky); S. Krylov (bell-founder); Bolot Ishalenev
(Tartar Khan); N. Grabbe; B. Matsik; A. Obuov; Tamara Ogorodnikhova;
Sos Sarkissyan; Volodya Titov.
USSR, 1969-72. 35mm, Scope; Sovcolour; 165 mins; 4556m. (some released
versions 144 mins)
Production: Mosfilm
Direction: Andrei Tarkovsky
Screenplay: Andrei Tarkovsky, Friedrich Gorenstein
(based on the novel Solaris by Stanislaw Lem)
Director of Photography: Vadim Yusov
Editing: Ludmila Feyganova
Music: Eduard Artemiev, J. S. Bach (Choral Prelude in F minor)
Art Directon: Mikhail Romadin
Costumes: N. Fomina
Sund: Smyon Litvinov
2nd Director: Y. Kushnerov
Assistant Directors: A Ides, Larissa Tarkovskaya, M. Chugunova
2nd Cameraman: E. Shvedov
Producton Manager: Vyacheslav Tarasov
Cast: Natalia Bondarchuk (Harey); Donatas Banonis (Chris Kelvin); Yuri
Yaret (Snaut); �atoly Sloni�yn (Sartorius); Vladi

lav Dvor

(Berton); Nikolai Grinko (Kelvin's father); Sos Sarkissyan (Gz?arza
0. Baet; W. Kerdimun; Taa Ogoroova; T. Malykh; A Mishar;
W. Oganesyan; Y. Smyonov; V. Stanitsky; S. Sumyonova; G. Teykh;
0. Uisilova.
Te Miror [Zekalo]
USSR, 1974. 3Smm; Svcolour (bjw newsreel sequences); 106 m; 295m.
Production: Mosflm, Unit 4
Directon: �drei Tarkovsky
Screenplay: �drei Tarkovsky, Aleksander Misharin
Poems: Arseniy Tarkovsky, read by te poet
Director of Photography: Georgi Rerberg
Editng: Ludmila Feyganova
. . .
Music: Eduad Artemiev,J. S. Bach, Gxovanr Batsta Pergolesi, Henry Purcell
Art Direction: Nikolai Dvigubsky
Sets: A Merkunov
Costumes: N. Fomina
Make-up: V. Rudina
Sound: Semyon Litvinov
Lighting: V. Gusev
Special Effects: Y. Potapov
2nd Director: Y. Kushnerov
Assistant Directors: Larissa Tarkovskaya, V. Karchenko, M. Chugunova
Camera Operators: A Nikolaev, I. Shtanko
Producer: E. Vaisberg
Production Manager: Y. Kushnerov
Cast: Margarita Terekhova (Alekei's mother

nd Natalia); Filipp Yankovsky
(Ignat, aged fve); Ignat Danil�ev (Aleksez a

Ignat, aged twelve);
Yankovsky (ather); Nikolai Grinko (man at prmtmg work); Al�a Demidova
(Elizabeth); Yuri Nazarov (military instructor); Anat
lY Solomts
(man �t
fence); Innokenti Smoktunovsky (narrator - vou;e of Aleksez);
Tarkovskaya (Aleksei' s mother as an older woman); Tamara Ogorodm�ova;
T. Reshetnikhova; Y. Sventikov; E. del Bosque; L. Corecher; A. Gutierres;
D. Garcia; T. Pares; Teresa del Bosque; Tamara del Bosque.
Stalker [orginal ttle of scenario: Te Wish Machine']
USSR, 1979. 35m; colour; 163 m; 466m.
Production: Mosflm, Unit 2
[recton: �drei Tarkovsky
Sreenplay: �kadi and Boris Stugatsky
(based on therr novel Roadsie Picnic)
Poems: Arseniy Tarkovsky and Fedor Tyuchev
oe_or of Ph

tography: Aleksander Knyazhinsky
Edxtng: Ludmila Feyganova
Music: Eduard Artemiev
Mus�cal [recton: E. Khachaturyan
Musical Supervision: R. Lukina
Art Direction (Production Designer): �drei Tarkovsky
Sts: A Merkulov
Ars�: R. SafuU, V. Fabrikov
Costumes: N. Fomina
Make-up: V. Lvova
Sund: V. Shcharn
Lightng Supervision: L. Kazmin
Assistnt rectors: M. Chugunova, Yevgeniy Tsimbal
Camera Operators: N. Fudim, S. Naugolnikh
Assistant Camera Operators: G. Verkhovsky S. Zaitsev
Assistant Editors: T. Alekseyeva, V. Lobkov�
Assistant Lighting: T. Maslennikhova
Produ�on Group: T. Aleksandrovskaya, V. Vdovina, M. Mosenkov
Produ�on Manager: Larissa Tarkovskaya
Production Supervision: Aleksandra Demidova
Cast: �eksander Kaida


ky (stalkr); �atoly Soloni�yn (writer); Nikolai
Gnnko (professor/saentzst); Alisa Freindlikh (stalker's wife)· Natasha
Abramova (stalker's daughter); F. Yuma; E. Kostin; R. Rendi.
Nostalga [Nostalghia]
Italy, 1983. 35mm; Eastmancolor; 126 mins; 3545m.

n: Opera Film (Rome) for R T Rete 2 i associaton with
Sovmfim, USSR
Direction: �drei Tarkovsky
�reenplay: Andrei Tarkovsky , Tonino Guerra
Director of Photography: Giuseppe Lanci
Editing: Erminia Marani, Amadeo Salta
Mus�c: Giuseppe Verdi, Ludwig van Beethoven, Russian song
Musical Consultant: Gino Peguri
Art Direction: Andrea Crisanti
Set Dresser: Mauro Passi
156 Filmogaphy
Costumes: Lina Nerli Taviani, Annamode 68
Make-up Supervsion: Giuglio Mastantonio
Sund: Remo Ugolinelli
Sund Efects: Massimo Anellotti, Lucano Anzellotti .
Special Effect: Paolo Ricc
Assistant Directors: Noran Mozzato, Larissa Tarkovskaya
Camera Operator: Giuseppe de Biasi
Assistant Editor: Roberto Puglisi
Sound Mixing: Danilo Moroni
Sund Re-recording: Filippo Ottoni, Ivana Fidele
Producer: Francesco Casat
Exective Producers: Renzo Rossellini, Manolo Bolognni
Producton Executive: Lorenzo Ostuni (R)
Producton Supervision: Filippo Campus, Valentino Signoretti
Production Administraton: Nestore Baratella
Cast: Oleg Yankovsky (Andrei Gorchak); Erland Josephson (Domenico);
Domiziana Giordano (Eugei); Patizia TeÏeno° (Gorchak's wife); Delia
Boccardo (Domenico's wife); Alberto Canepa; Laura de Marchi; Raffaele di
Mario; Rate Furlan; Livio Galassi; Elena Magoia; Piero Vida; Miena
Te Sacrfce [Ofet]
Sweden, France, 1986. 35m; Eastancolor; 145 mins; 4085m.
Producton: Swedish Film Institute, Stokholm, Argos Fim SA, Paris
Direction: Andrei Tarkovsky
Screenplay: Andrei Tarkovsky
Director of Photography: Sven Nykvist
Editing: Andrei Tarkovsky, Michal Leszczylowski
Editing Consultant: Henr Colpi
Music: J. S. Bach (St Matthe Passion), Japanese instmental music and
Swedish shepherds' calls
Art Direction: Anna Asp
Costumes: Inger Pehrsson
Make-up and Wigs: Kjell Gustvsson, Florence Fouquier
Sound and Mixing: Owe Svensson, Bosse Persson
Specal Effects: Svenska Stuntgruppen; Lars Hoglund, Lars Palmqvist
Contnuity: Anne von Sydow
Assistant Director: Kerstin Eriksdotter
Assistant Director and Post-Production: Michal Leszczylowski
Camera Assistants: Lasse Karlsson, Dan Myhrman
Casting: Priscilla John, Francoise Menidrey, Claire Denis
Technical Manager: Kaj Larsen
Executive Producer: Anna-Lena Wibom (Swedish Film Institte)
Production Manager: Katinka Farago, Farago Film AB
Cast: Erland Josephson (Alexnder); Susan Fleetwood (Adelaide); Valerie
Mairesse (Juli); Allan Edwall (Otto); Gudrun Gislad6ttr (Maria); Sven
Wollter (Victor); Filippa Franzen (Marta); Tommy Kjellqvist (Little Man);
Per Kallman and Tommy Nordahl (ambulancemen).
Abalov, E., 2, 24
Abbado, Claudio, 4
Abraham, 133, 143
Alexander, Layla, 1501
Allardt-Nostitz, Felicitas, 12, 97
, 82, 89
Andersson, Bibi, 145
Andrei Rublyov, 2, 5-6, 10, 12, 14-15,
21, 26, 32, 39-2, 63, 74-5, 79, 82,
88-9, 93, 105, 140, 142, 144
Andronikov Monastery, 42, 45,
Andropov, Yuri, 3
Angelopoulos, Theo, 149
Anubis, 103, 149
Apocalypse, 5, 28, 97-8, 102,
105, 137, 141
Artemiev, Eduard, 14, 76, 103, 147
artist's role, 5, 1820, 36, 41, 45-9,
Auschwitz, 145
auteur f, 6, 24, 26
Bach, Johann Sebastan, 14, 76, 91,
128, 136, 147
Baglivo, Donatella, 138, 141
Bagno Vignoni, 107, 1 1314, 118
Banionis, Donatas, 76
Batu Khan, 39
Beethoven, Ludwig van, 103, 105,
Belorssia, 40
Bergman, Ingmar, 136
Berlin, 4
Beryozovsky, Maximilian
Sasontovich, 7, 107-8, 110,
112, 148
black and white in film, 15, 21,
30, 52-3, 73-, 79, 89, 104, 116,
1 18, 130-1, 134, 136, 140
Blake Society, 5, 139
Bloch, Erst, 92
Bogomolov, Vladimir, 246, 29
Bondarchuk, Natalia, 76
Boris Godunov, ", 138
Bresson, Robert, 136
Brezhnev, Leonid, 80
Brezna, Irena, 139, 147
Bregel, Pieter, 50, 71-2, 90, 14
'The Hunters in the Snow', 71
Bu.uel, Luis, 136
Burlyaev, Nikolai (Kolya), 30, 57,
142, 14
Byzantne Empire, 402
Cannes Film Festval, 4, 62, 6, 80,
108, 120
Castaneda, Carlos, 149
Cerbers, 103
Chaadayev, Pyot, 88
Chaliapin, Feodor, 37
Chagall, Marc, 86
Chapaye, 140
Charon, 94
Cherobyl, 8, 96, 105, 120
Cheryaev, Yevgeniy, 24
Chiarini, Luigi, 62
child's perspectve, 19, 25, 36, 8,
86, 92, 134
childhod, 1, 7-8, 10, 23, 26, 27-9,
30, 33, 356, 56, 701, 79, 82-3,
85-, 88-90, 92, 94
Chory, Daniil, 41, 59-0, 142,
Christ, 48, 51-2, 58, 123-4, 135,
cinema vente, 79
colour in flm, 15, 21, 41, 53, 55,
63, 73-, 79, 91, 104-5, 118,
136, 140, 145
colour code, 15, 21, 73, 91, 103-5,
118, 126, 134, 136, 151
Constantine X, 142
Constantinople, 143
Covent Garden Opera, 4
Cronaca Familiare, 26
Dakus, 113
Index 159
Daniil, see Chory, Daniil
Daniltsev, !gnat, 3, 81
Dante, Alighieri, 43, 83, 95
Demant, Ebbo
Auf der Suche nach der verlorenen
Zeit; Andrej Tarkskis Exil
und Tod, 139, 143, 150-1
Demofont, 148
Dir for My Loves, 151
Divine Comedy, 83, 95
Dnieper, 27, 38
Don Quixote, 68, 7
Donskoi, Demetrius, 40
Dostovsky, Feodor, 4, 12, 91,
101, 116, 136, 138, 149
Dovzhenko, Alexander, 14, 34, 36,
136, 142
dreams, 6-7, 11, 1 5, 22, 25, 27,
29-36, 52-1, 55, 58, 70, 73, 801,
86, 89, 92, 94, 104, 110, 112-13,
118, 126, 131, 133-6, 142, 150
Direr, Albrecht, 6, 28, 141
Earth, 3
Eisenstein, Srgei, 13-14, 91
environmental destructon, 8, 95,
Epelboi, Annie, 150
'Expo 70', 63
extrasensory phenomena, 106, 136
Eyck, Jan van, 104
Fareell, 151
Fellini, Federico, 1 15, 149
Field of Snipes, see Kulikovo Polye
Field of Virgins, 6
Fleetwood, Susan, 150
Florence, 3
Francesca, Piero della, 111-12
'Madonna del Parto', 91, 11 1-12
Friedrich, Caspar David, 142, 149
Furmanov, Dmitri, 140
Gandhi (Mahatma), 122, 144
Genghis Khan, 39
German Romanticism, 12, 90, 97,
Godard, Jean-Luc, 151
Golden Fleece, Jason and the, 97
Gorbachev, Ma, 137
Goskino, 3, 6, 80, 137-
Grail, 95
Grass, Gunter, 120, 134
Greenaway, Peter, 151
Guardin Lecture, 149
Guera, Tonino, 107-9, 149
Hitler, Adolf, 28
Hoffan, E. T. A., 4, 12, 97
humanism, 5, 12, 42, 47-8, 70, 141
identty, merging of, 7, 12, 35, 60,
67, 81, 83, 11314, 131, 135
Idiot, T, 12, 101, 116, 149
immortality, 67, 78, 82-3, 122
Ioseliani, Ota, 103, 136, 148
Isaac, 133
Italy, 3-4, 107-10, 112, 114, 117,
119, 125-
Ivan I, 40
Ivan II , 40, 142
Ivan I (the Terrible), 142
Ivan's Childhood, 2, 6, 8, 10, 12,
14-16, 22, 2438, 41, 43, 46, 49,
56-7, 85, 89, 103, 141-2, 144-5,
147, 150
Ivanov, Vyacheslav, 9
Japa, 63
Jason and the Golden Fleece, 97
Josephson, Erland, 122
Kaidanovsky, Aleksander, 136
Khanate of the Golden Horde, 39
Kiev, 39-0
Klimov, Elim, 137, 151
Kluge, Alexander, 4
Knyazhinsky, Alexander, 148
Kokoshka, Oskar, 86
Konchalovsky, Andrei, see
Kubrick, Stanley, 76
Kuleshov, Lev, 14
Kulikovo Polye (Field of Snipes),
40, 79, 88, 142
Kurosawa, Akira, 137
lst Judgement, 42, 4, 501, 55,
60, 144
Lem, Stanislaw, 6, 67, 735, 77,
96, 98
Solaris, 63
Lenngrad, 80
Leonardo da Vinc, 37, 901,
1235, 128, 130, 136
'Adoration of the Magi', 37, 91,
123, 125, 131
'Gineva de' Bend, 91
Leszczylowski, Michal, 144, 150
Regi Andrej Tarkvskj, 150
levitation, 8, 46, 7, 86, 105, 127,
Lithuania, 40
London, 4-5
London Film Festval, 6
Lopushansky, Konstantn, 136
Loreto, 149
Madonna, see Virgin Mary
Mtgic Flute, T, 98
Mann, Thomas, 4
Mao Zedong, 89
Mary Magdalene, 52
Mayakovsky, Vladimir, 139
meento mori, 50, 130
memory, 7-8, 52, 69-70, 73, 78, 82,
86, 89, 92, 108, 1 19, 136
Meszaros, Marta, 151
Metastasio, 148
Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky, Andrei,
16, 42, 140
Mirror, T, 1, 3-, 7-8, 10, 13-14,
16, 36, 43, 46, 57, 61, 69,
71-2, 78-92, 105, 1 19, 122, 125,
131, 134, 138, 140, 142, 14,
146-7, 149
Mizoguchi, Kenji, 137
montage of attactions, 13, 91, 139
Moscow, 1, 4, 40, 62, 6, 80, 94,
Moscow Film Festival, 5
Mosfilm, 2, 16, 24, 74, 140-1
motifs, see Tarkovsky, Andrei
Motte Fouque, Friedrch de la,
music and sounds, 14-15, 29,
34-5, 37, 55, 57, 76, 91, 103,
113, 1 19, 128-9
nature morte, see still life
nostalgia, 1, 10, 68, 71-2, 94,
107-11, 1 14, 1 1 7-19, 137
Nostalg, 3, 68, 10, 12, 14, 32,
367, 72, 8, 91, 96, 103,
107-19, 121-2, 125-9, 146, 148
Novalis, 12, 97
Novgorod, 40
Nykvist, Sven, 127
bschelbronn (anthroposophical
clinic), 3
old master paintig, 9, 50, 71, 90,
117, 126
Old Testament Trinity, 44, 7, 82,
Orpheus, 97
Ovcharov, Srgei, 136
Ovchinnikov, Vyacheslav, 14, 55,
57, 140, 14
Palaeologa, Sofia, 142
Palme, Olaf, 150
Papava, Mikhail, 25
Paracelsus, 145
paradise, 6, 10, 36, 70, 84-5, 94-5,
102, 104, 106, 135
Paradzhanov, Sergei, 74, 136
parapsychology, 8, 11, 130
Paris, 3-4, 80
Pasterak, Boris, 136
perestroik, 87
Pergolesi, Giovanni Battsta, 147
Plato, 82, 115, 149
Poland-Lithuania, 39-0
prefguration, 50, 144
Prospera's Books, 151
Proust, Marcel, 7, 69
Pskov, 40
psychokinesis, see telekinesis
Pudovkin, Vsevolod, 14
Purcell, Henr, 147
Pushkin, Alexander, 43, 88-9, 138
RAI, 3
Rasumovsky, Count, 107
Raush, Ira (Tarkovsky's 1st wife),
3, 81
Ravel, Maurice, 103
Renaissance, 6, 8-9, 39, 47-9, 91,
123, 141
Rerberg, Georgi (Gosha), 79-80, 148
resurecton, 4, 5, 67-8, 70, 7, 102
Revelaton of StJohn, see Apocalypse
Rga, 137
Romanov, Alexei, 6
Rome, 118
Romm, Mikil, 2, 16
Rothschild, Thomas, 11-12
Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 89
Rubens, Sir Peter Paul, 145
Rublyov, Andrei, 1, 36, 41-4,
46-1, 72, 9� 116, 122, 142-
ruins, 3, 31-3, 49, 102, 112-13,
116-17, 119, 123, 141
Russia, 39, 435, 107, 10, 1 13,
119, 125
Russian Orthodox Church, 9, 40
Ryazan, 40
sacce, 5-, 57, 60, 1 11, 11416,
120-3, 125-0 130, 132-5, 137
Sacrifce, T, 39, 1 1-12, 14-16,
32, 36-8, 48, 56-7, 72, 86, 91,
96, 101, 104-5, 108, 112, 1 14-15,
118, 120-35, 138-40, 144-5, 150
St Catherine (of Siena), 112,
114-15, 121, 149
St Genevieve des Bois, 5
St James's Church, London, see
Blake Society
St John the Divine, 137
Sancho Panza, 68
San Gregorio, 109
Shakespeare, William, 129, 134-5
Hamlet, 4, 138, 144
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 134
silence and speech, 6, 47-8, 57-8,
87, 105, 121-2, 133, 135
Sivash, lake, 38, 89
Smoktunovsky, lnnokenti, 8
Skurov, Alexander, 136
Solaris, 3, 67, 11-12, 45- , 63-77,
78, 80, 86-7, 90, 94-5, 102, 114,
144, 147-8
Solontsyn, Anatoly, 76, 126
Sosnovsky, Pavel, see Beryozovsky
Soviet authorities, 2-3, 5, 26, 36,
41, 61-2, 80, 107-8, 137
Sviet cinema, 2, 4, 14, 137, 140
_ Soviet Union, 1-2, 4, 20, 87-8, 93,
125, 137
Spanish Civil War, 89
Spasski Cathedral, 142
Stalingrad, 89
Stalin, Joseph, 85, 87
Stalinism, 13, 20, 44, 137
Stalkr, 3, 6, 8-1 1, 13, 36, 45, 68,
73, 75, 93-106, 113, 1 16, 119,
128, 134, 138-0, 145, 147
State Shool for Film (VGIK),
Moscow, 2, 16, 138
Stemroller and the Violin, T, 2, 14,
16-23, 63, 134, 136, 140, 144-5
Steiner, Rudolf, 4
still life, 9, 67, 70-1, 90, 103-,
117, 130
Stgatski, Arkadi and Boris, 93,
95- , 112
Roadside Picnic, 93, 98
Styx, 94
Suzdal, Prince of, 39
Sweden, 3, 126
Swedish Film Institute, Stockholm,
symbolism, 9, 94, 117, 124
synchronism of time, 50, 143
Sartre, Jean-Paul, 36
Schiller, Friedrich von, 113
Schmidt, Eva Maria, 149
Second World War, 1, 26, 28-9, 137
Tarkovskaya, Larissa Pavlovna
(Tarkovsky's 2nd wife), 3,
108, 147, 150
162 Index
Tarkovskaya, Maria Ivanovna
(Tarkovsky's mother), 1-2,
78-9, 81-4, 86, 90, 1 08, 112,
125, 147
Tarkovskaya, Marina ( Tarkovsky's
sister), 1-2
Tarkovsky, Andrei (Andryusha)
( Tarkovsky's son), 3, 81, 108,
Tarkovsky, Arseniy Alexandrovch
(Tarkovsky's father), 1, 12,
16, 80-2, 86, 108, 1 1 1, 141
Tarkovsky, Andrei Arsenievich,
films, see ttles of individual films
apples, 15, 17, 21-2, 3, 36-7,
50, 71, 97
balloons, 45--, 7, 89-90
bells, 8, 31-2, 42-4, 46, 49, 56-7,
59, 111, 142
birds, 59, 71, 90, 112
bread, 18, 2, 3, 71, 1 17
dogs, 8, 15, 71-2, 96, 101, 103-5,
113-14, 118, 128, 149
elements, 49-50, 102, 117,
126-7, 151
fire, 56, 90, 1 18, 121, 127
flight, 8, 33, 37, 45-, 56, 86, 102
horses, 8, 3, 37, 46, 5, 56- 7,
71, 118, 123, 137, 139
m, 8, 18, 2, 56, 80, 85, 90,
103, 115, 127, 148
mr ors, 8-9, 21-2, 65, 7, 8,
92, 117-18, 127, 130, 146
rain, 8-9, 72, 101-2, 1 1 7, 146
trees, 35-, 123-4, 142
water, 9-10, 14, 21-2, 3, 37, 56,
67, 7, 81, 90, 92, 98, 101-,
116, 118-20, 127, 130, 139, 142,
145, 149
wells, 3, 95, 97, 142
projects, 4
women, 12-13, 60-1, 67, 86- 7,
91, 105, 110-12, 130
Tartars, 39-40, 42-4, 51, 54, 60-1,
88, 142
Tartini, Giuseppe, 107
telekinesis, 96, 105, 139, 148
Tempi di Viaggio, see A Time to Travel
Terekhova, Margarita, 81, 91
Theophanes the Greek, 41-3,
47-51, 54, 57-1, 144
tme, 6- 7, 9, 15, 69-70, 78, 80, 82,
89, 92, 1 03, 108, 118-19
Time to Travel, A (Tepi di Viaggio),
Tretyakov Gallery, 143
Troiza Monastery of St
Sergius, 42, 48, 61, 143
Trffaut, Francois, 151
Turovskaya, Maya, 10, 1 8, 26, 141
Tuscany, 3
Tver, 40
2001: A Space Odyssey, 76
Tyuchev, Feodor, 105
Ukraine, 40
Undine, 67, 145
universality, 28, 38, 1 26, 136
unites, 58, 1 03
USA, 3
Uspensk Cathedral, 59, 143
Utopia, 85, 1 13
vanitas motfs, 6, 9, 49-51, 70-1,
83, 91, 1 02, 1 04, 117, 1 30, 144
Vasiliev, Georgi and Sergei, 140
Vassili I, 40
Vassili II , 40
Venice, 143
Venice Film Festival, 2, 26, 36, 62
Verdi, Giuseppe, 113, 1 19
Vertov, Dziga, 14
VGIK, see State School for Film,
Vinci, Leonardo da, see Leonardo
da Vinci
Virgin Mary, 9, 12-13, 87, 91, 106,
1 12, 116, 123-4, 130-1, 145
Vladimir, 39-0, 42-3, 46, 48, 50,
53-5, 59, 143-4
Wenders, Wim, 151
Wings of Desire, 151
witches, 12, 121, 130-1, 150
Index 1 63
women in Tarkovsky's films and
relatons with, see
Tarkovsky, Andrei Arsenievich
Yankovsky, Oleg, 81, 146
Yarvet, Yu, 76
Yerash, Feodor, 3, 80, 137
Yuryevetz, 1
Yusov, Vadim, 24, 63, 79, 140, 146
Zagorsk, 42
Zavrazhie, 1
Zurlini, Valerio, 26
Zvenigorod, 5, 63, 143

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