On Andrei Tarkovsky’s 80th Birthday

The acclaimed Russian filmmaker died in 1986 as a result of lung cancer.
Andrei Tarkovsky

Today marks what would’ve been celebrated Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky’s 80th birthday. (He died in 1986 as a result of lung cancer.) David Hudson has collected a nice assortment of retrospectives and articles concerning the filmmaker’s life, work, and influence.

I was particularly fascinated by this brief interview with Tarkovsky’s younger sister, Marina Tarkovskaya. In it, she discusses Tarkovsky’s difficult relationship with the Russian “cinema bureaucrats”, who, despite his status around the world, constantly sought to undermine his work.

Why did the cinema bureaucrats back at home did not like Andrei Tarkovsky and did he suffer because of that?

“Andrei was tired of all the humiliation. It hurts me to recall how they scorned him. For example, when he was invited to be the head of the jury for some film festival abroad, the “Goskino” bureaucrats did not even inform Andrei about that. There were many cases like that.

Andrei dreamed about filming Idiot based on Dostoevsky’s novel, but they casually told him: «You are too young and inexperienced. Let some time pass!» In the end, they kept feeding him with promises for 10 years, and that cherished dream of his life was never realized.

Let me stress that Andrei was never a dissident, but the leaders of the USSR still perceived him as a stranger, a person with internal freedom – that was what they could not forgive.

If you’re having trouble loading the Tarkovskaya interview, here’s a cached version.