Andrey Tarkovsky

Mjasnoje, Russia, October 2, 1981
Otricoli, Italy, October 1982
San Gregorio, Italy, November 24, 1983

Andrey Tarkovsky (born 4 April 1932 in the village of Zavrazhye in the Yuryevetsky District, Soviet Union – died 29 December 1986 in Paris, France) was a Russian film director and screenwriter widely regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema.
Tarkovsky’s father Arseniy Tarkovskiy, a descendent of a Polish aristocratic family was a noted Russian poet and his mother Maria, herself a member of an ancient Russian noble family, a graduate of the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute.  In 1937, his father left the family and Andrey Tarkovsky stayed with his mother, moving with her and his sister Marina to Moscow. Here he received a classical education, studying music and Arabic, before he entered the State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) – the USSR’s most famous film institute in 1954. There he also met his first wife. After graduating, he made his first five feature films in the Soviet Union: Ivan’s Childhood (1962), Andrei Rublev (1966), Solaris (1972), The Mirror (1975), and Stalker (1979). After years of creative conflicts with state film authorities, Tarkovsky left the country in 1979 and made his last two films abroad.
While Tarkovsky is best known for his masterful films his passion for photography extended beyond the realm of moving images. He started experimenting with the Polaroid camera in the late seventies and captured numerous moments using his trusty Polaroid camera throughout his career, often exploring themes of nature, spirituality, and the human condition.
Tarkovsky’s Polaroid photography was characterized by its poetic and introspective nature. His photographs possessed a timeless quality, each frame carrying a sense of stillness and contemplation. Drawing from his background in filmmaking, Tarkovsky infused his Polaroid images with a cinematic quality, as if freezing a single frame from an imagined film.
Andrei Andreevic Tarkovsky, son of the director said about his father’s intense relationship with the immediacy of Polaroid:

I don’t remember him having any interest in analogue photography, I’ve never heard him talk about photography or established authors. He did not buy photography books although some photography catalogues can be found in his library. He was interested in paintings of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, from which he drew great inspiration, and in music. But he liked Polaroid a lot for its immediacy, for the possibility of seeing the result immediately. Also, he ended up mastering it very well and was able to control the frame and the parallax defect. When he returned to Russia after 1980, he brought the Polaroid 600 with him and took many pictures, perhaps his most beautiful and intense.[1]

While Tarkovsky’s Polaroid photography remained relatively unknown during his lifetime, his legacy as a filmmaker and photographer has endured. His work continues to inspire and influence contemporary artists, and his photographs have been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world.
After his last feature film, The Sacrifice was released in 1986 and he had published a book on cinema and art entitled Sculpting in Time, Tarkovsky died of cancer later that year, possibly caused by the toxic filming locations of Stalker.
In 2006, Thames & Hudson published Instant Light, a book collecting “a selection of color Polaroids the filmmaker took from 1979 to 1984 of his home, family, and friends in Russia and of places he visited in Italy”.

[1] (Status 11 July 2023)

Polaroid book

Instant Light. Tarkovsky Polaroids
by Andrei A. Tarkovsky
Thames & Hudson, 2004
ISBN 10: 0500542899
ISBN 13: 9780500542897