By Nina J P Evans

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tarkovsky Stops the Flight of Time

The great film director Tarkovsky is not that known for his work as a photographer, until 2006 with the recent publication of his 70s Polaroid photographs, taken in both Russia and Italy between 1979 and 1984. I thought them breathtaking and inspirational, are now published into a book format titled Instant Light Tarkovsky Polaroids (Paperback). Tarkovsky’s son Giovanni Chiaramonte the renowned Italian photographer says: “These photos match the rapturous visuals and spiritual intensity of Tarkovsky's films… [they] capture eternity in a moment.”

Looking at these photographs pushes the envelope of visual language, there’s a subtleness to the subject and an openness of interpretation, covering a range of interior and exterior shots and objects within and cut out from the frame. The nuances of light and shade hide and reveal the characters into thoughtful and balanced compositions, even when no one is present the scene has been set and we’re involved within it. Tarkovsky’s book published posthumously, is described by Time Out magazine as being—one of the most beautiful books of the year.

European, American and Japanese directors inspired him especially, Japanese film scenes showing the minutiae of everyday life. I think that that's something these photos explore—conceptually they are very personable. Tarkovsky’s photography is also said to be greatly inspired by the art of Haiku poetry and its ability to create images in such a way that they mean nothing beyond themselves. These beautiful Polaroids are kind of like that, they create the illusion that stops the flight of time, causing a kind of inner reflection and thoughtfulness.

I think that these photographs taken from the perspective of a filmmaker are absolutely fascinating, as they break lots of technical rules, but in doing so… create a more naturalist dialogue between the photographer and viewer. Also, seeing these traditional film photographs is a reminder of the qualities of warmth and softness in the film medium, has perfectly captured the essence of those times; in contrast to today’s digital imagery, which is less demystified with aided sharper focusing capabilities. They are beautiful bewitching pictures and because of the Polaroid point and shot method, they lend themselves to inspire us as photographers, to reconsider how best to capture evocative images.

Ingmar Bergman said of him, “Tarkovsky for me is the greatest [director], the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.”

Shown are 15/60 Polaroid Photographs
Russian photo blog view all the pictures
Poemas del río Wang blog online
Andrei Tarkovsky Wikipedia


  1. These are beautiful images indeed. If nothing else, they only serve to remind me that I really need to catch up on my Tarkovsky. Solaris is the only film of his I've seen (though it's an amazing work).

  2. Thanks for sharing the Russian Photo Blog link above. It is incredible what Tarkovsky could capture on just a polaroid but it comes as no surprise given what he has accomplished in film. I am a long time and serious Andrei Tarkovsky admirer and am always happy to see that other people like his films! Dan Marquart