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Andrei Tarkovsky Polaroids: His Luminous World

Richard Wess August 11, 2020

We remember the Soviet director and screenwriter, Andrei Tarkovsky, as the creator of Stalker, Solaris, and many other incomparable films. But not everyone knows about his passion for photography. Unsurprisingly, Tarkovsky had a masterful sense not only of cinematic, but also of photographic composition.

Below you’ll find a number of his Polaroid shots taken in Russia and Italy between 1979 and 1984. They range from romantic landscapes and staged portraits to personal shots of family members and friends from the film world. Many of the Polaroids he captured in Russia are reminiscent of frames from his contemplative film, Mirror. Meanwhile, the pictures he took in Italy capture the mood and ambiance he brought to life in Nostalgia, the film he was then preparing to shoot.

In 2006, a beautiful book of these Polaroids, Instant Light: Tarkovsky Polaroids, was published (available on Amazon for a hefty price). The book includes a forward by the Italian writer, Tonino Guerra, who worked with Tarkovsky on Nostalgia. Guerra’s words better than any others sum up Tarkovsky and his art’s approach to capturing moments in time.

“I remember how on one of [Tarkovsky’s] study trips to Uzbekistan, where we were going to shoot a film, which we never made afterwards, he decided to give three elderly Muslims the photograph he had taken for them. The elder, having glanced quickly at the picture, returned it with the words: “Why stop time?” Tarkovsky often pondered over such a flight of “time” and wanted only one thing: to stop it, even with a quick glance from the instant Polaroid images.”

Without further ado, please enjoy the mysterious and poetic world of Tarkovsky’s luminous Polaroids.

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