by Andrey A. Tarkovsky

It is not easy for me to talk dispassionately about the photographs in this book, let alone discuss their historical or artistic merit. Each time I look at them, I feel these pictures have an amazing, unique, inner energy; I am drawn as by a magnet back into my past, into the forgotten, distant world of my childhood, which all of a sudden springs up vividly all around me. I seem to be walking along with the feel of dry, yellowing grass underfoot, and the heady, overripe smell of autumn mist; a bend in the river gleams down below, and further on, above the river, is our country house, where it’s warm and cosy, and where they’re still expecting me …

I remember so well, in 1980, my Father coming back from Italy, carefully unpacking his Polaroid camera from its coloured wrapping paper, and taking his first shots. He was collecting material for Nostalgia, and took masses of photographs: the family, the Vorobiov Hills, the countryside around Riazan’ where our house was, of which he was very fond. Thick mist hanging over the river, twilight, the moon above the roof of our house: these moments of our life, imprinted on film, were the basis of the visions and dreams of Andrei Gorchakov, the hero of the film. Even the photographs he took in Italy remind me of Russia, he seemed to make a point of finding landscapes reminiscent of Russia, of his own native places – which he was never to see again. Nostalgia is surely one of my Father’s most autobiographical films, though at the time nobody realised how prophetic it was to be for him.

The day before he left to start shooting in Italy, in March 1982, he opened the Polaroid for the last time and took a few pictures. None of us was aware that he would never return, but for some reason we all felt unbearably sad. Somebody took one of the two of us together: we are sitting on the sofa in his study, he has his arm round my shoulders, he has an awkward smile and looks unhappy, on the wall behind us, among the pictures and ikons, is an old mirror in a carved frame that no longer reflects anything at all.

However personal these photographs are, I am sure
that everyone who sees them will appreciate them and be able to relate to them. Whether he was working with Polaroid or cinema film my Father created artistic images, the power of which lies in their direct impact, in the way creator and viewer become spiritually as one. As he himself said, ‘An image is not some idea as expressed by the director, but an entire world reflected in a drop of water. In a single drop of water!’

Florence, 15th October 2007.


© The Tarkovsky Foundation