Andréï Tarkovski

Andreï Arsenievitch Tarkovski was born on April 4, 1932 in Zarraje, small city on the Volga. His father, a poet and translator, leaves his wife when Andreï is three years old and his sister one and half. In spite of the great admiration he will always have for the paternal talent, Andreï will remain filled with the abnegation and tenderness of his mother. These childhood bits, this mysterious universe full of “women secrets”, we'll find them embellished, sublimated, in The mirror.

After the war, when all the family dies of hunger and cold, Andreï continues his studies, follows classes of music and painting. Back from geology training, he registers in 1956 the famous VGIK, the national school of cinema. At the end of these four years of studies, he makes his diploma film : The road roller and the violin.

In 1962, he shoots The childhood of Ivan, the history of a child died at 12, during the war. A child who looks like the future Stalker, since this victim, apparently without defence, appears stronger than those who surround him. The film wins the golden Lion in Venice and it is the beginning for Tarkovski, of his troubles with the authorities.

In 1966, Andreï Roublev is rather well acclaimed by the other directors, which astonishes Tarkovski. But the film is nevertheless not screened. Some even plan to destroy it but an hors-competition screening at the Cannes Film Festival in 1969 allows to save it. In 1971 he makes Solaris, in 1974 The mirror, but the polemic thunders. Tarkovski exiles then in Italy.

Tarkovski is quickly considered as a dangerous individualist and agitator. ”I am for an art which brings to men hope and faith.

In 1984, he chooses to remain in western Europe, with his wife, but claiming the presence of his son, retained in Russia. ”I am tired of your persecution, your hate, your spite, the misery and, finally, the systematic absence of work to which you condemned me.

In 1985, in Sweden, he prepares The Sacrifice. But he also realised to be sick. December 15, he is fixed : ”man throughout his life, knows that one day or the other, he will die. But he doesn't know when and this is why he always pushes back this moment in the future. It helps to live. Me, now, I know… and nothing can help me.”. Famous French doctor Professor Leon Schwarzenberg sends a letter to French president François Mitterrand, who sends one to Gorbatchev, who orders that the son of Tarkovski can join his father. It will be him that receives in May 1986 the Special Prize that the jury gives to The Sacrifice.

On December 29, 1986, Andreï Tarkovski dies in Paris.

Andréï Tarkovski in Emir Kusturica's films

The Mirror in particular, but all the films of Tarkovski in general are references for Emir Kusturica. We find the homages in several forms :

  • Emir Kusturica has used in many films the same water symbols, dropped on the head as a purification. One can also see the scene where Merdzan raises Perhan's house in Time of the Gypsies echoing the end of Solaris where Kris sees his (dead) father standing inside his house, under a surreal (inside) rain.
  • The daughter of the Stalker is handicapped. She can't walk, but she has telekinetic powers. This exceptional faculty to make moving remote objects compensates a certain physical handicap just like… Perhan in Time of the Gypsies.
  • The climax sequences in The Sacrifice and The Mirror are marked by a kind of levitation, a force, that of love and sacrifice, which carries the bodies in the air waves. Emir Kusturica will often have levitation sequences in the moments of grace.
  • Elaine Stalker (Fayne Dunaway) in Arizona Dream has the name of an Andréï Tarkovski's film.
  • The verticality a very particular way of shooting that has developed Andréï Tarkovski. We can consider that the sequence which shows Perhan down the lime kiln, and simultaneously at top of the oven after a vertical camera movement, then again at the bottom, is an homage.
  • In Andreï Roublev also, we see a strange pagan celebration on a river, which makes us think of the Saint-Georges celebration in Time of the Gypsies


A very complete and regularly updated website on the russian master :

Selective filmography

en/andrei_tarkovski.txt · Last modified: 2008/02/13 13:07 by matthieu1