Soviet-born Film Director That Had A Large Influence On The Film Industry
Many composers, directors, and producers have their work widely distributed across the globe. Despite their name being relatively unknown, they tend to touch the lives of all kinds of people. Andrei Tarkovsky, a Soviet-born producer/composer/filmmaker, and writer, he is one such person who had a great deal of influence on the film industry, despite how unknown he was to the world at large.
Born Andrei Asenyevich Tarkovsky, on April 4, 1932, to Arseny Alexandrovich Tarkovsky and Maria Ivanova Vishnyakova, the filmmaker grew up in what was the Yuryevetsky District of Ivanovo Industrial Oblast.
His father, Arseny, was a poet and translator and his mother Maria was a graduate of the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute.
While growing up in the town of Yuryevets, Tarkovsky made a lot of friends who described him as the center of attention at times, adding that he was very popular among those his age.
After his father enlisted in the military, it was a great deal of time before he, his sister, and his mother would see the patriarch of their family again. The war-torn childhood from memory is one of Tarkovsky’s biggest influences in his writing and filmmaking.
Tarkovsky became familiar with the Arabic language and other related material at Moscow’s Oriental Institute. Despite having a knack for absorbing what knowledge came his way, he turned away from Arabic studies.
Tarkovsky decided to study film while working as a prospector for the Academy of Science Institute for Non-Ferrous Metals and Gold.
Being able to produce and write one’s film is an esoteric skill that not many people can acquire easily. Upon Tarkovsky’s return from prospecting, he dove in completely, going so far as to enroll fully at the State Institute of Cinematography.
Thanks to the government officials rescinding many Stalin-era social restrictions, young directors were able to share their works in limited numbers. They came from the Soviet Union, North America, and Europe as well.
It was a seldom-granted opportunity for many in Tarkovsky’s chosen line of work. Directors such as Kenji Mizoguchi, Adrezej Wajda, and Akira Kurosawa all helped shape the way that Andrei Tarkovsky saw the world through a film lens.
Luck of the Draw
It helps to be mentored by someone who would essentially shape the future of film. Mikhail Romm, Tarkovsky’s main teacher in the subject of a film, taught other influential filmmakers such as Georgi Daneliya, Vladimir Basov, and Vasily Shukshin.
While learning at the same school under the tutelage of director Grigori Chukhrai, Tarkovsky was given the position as assistant director for Chukhrai’s film Clear Skies. It was relatively short-lived, as the young student was eager to create his own works.
Friends in Odd Places
Tarkovsky’s graduation project, The Steamroller and the Violin, was created with the help of Andrei Konchalovsky, whom he met while studying at VGIK. The film earned him both a diploma and the First Prize at the New York Student Film Festival of 1961.
The first feature Tarkovsky’s directed was Ivan’s Childhood (1962), which was actually taken when Eduard Abalov, the original director, had to leave the project to attend to other matters. One of his biographical works, Andrei Rublev (1966), existed in versions of varied length thanks to issues with authorities. Only a cut version of the film was released and shown across the Soviet Union in 1971.
During his work on The Sacrifice in 1984, Tarkovsky stated at a Milan press conference that the Soviet Union had seen the last of him.
During the same time, his son Andrei Jr was restricted from leaving the Soviet Union.
While released after his death, one scene in the movie stands out above all others. During a walk with the director Michal Leszczylowski, Tarkovsky’s character shared his perspective on death: “I am immortal and I do not fear death.”
What Came After
Late in life, Tarkovsky was diagnosed with a severe case of stage 4 lung cancer. Because of the illness, his son had to accept awards on his behalf at the Cannes Film Festival, which bestowed him with the Grand Prix Special du Jury for his work.
Some people posit that Tarkovsky’s death may have been a result of Soviet Union powers not being too happy with what they considered ‘anti-Soviet Union propaganda.’
To this day, many of Tarkovsky’s works remain unpublished.