Tarkovsky’s Polaroids

Andrei Tarkovsky is one of the most well-known and admired Russian filmmakers, especially in the west. Three of his films—Ivan’s Childhood, Andrei Rublev and Solaris—are part of the Criterion Collection, and another, Stalker, is considered a masterpiece of art house science fiction. Tarkovsky’s films have a reputation for spirituality and slowness, a difficulty that rewards careful viewing.


The Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni reportedly gave his friend and colleague Andrei Tarkovsky a Polaroid camera in 1977.

That’s the first sentence of an article by Gawan Fagard about Tarkovsky’s subsequent use of polaroids between 1979 and 1983, three years before his death.

Since 1986, the polaroids have been put on display and edited into a book called Instant Light: Tarkovsky Polaroids. However, as Fagard points out:

…it should be noted that Tarkovsky never seemed to have had the intention to include his Polaroid snapshots in his work as an artist and filmmaker—even though the repeated artbook publications and exhibitions (which all happened posthumously) might suggest otherwise. Nevertheless, regardless of their purpose, they were crafted cautiously by their author. As the the framing and lighting reflect the eye of an experienced cinematographer, so the composition was staged with an obvious painterly flamboyance. Thus they reveal a lot about Tarkovsky’s aesthetic sensibility beyond documentary meaning.

You can see the polaroids here.


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