Filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky’s sublime polaroid diary offers a personal glimpse into his cinematic vision

“Some sort of pressure must exist; the artist exists because the world is not perfect. Art would be useless if the world were perfect, as man wouldn’t look for harmony but would simply live in it. Art is born out of an ill-designed world.” ― Andrei Tarkovsky

Andrei Tarkovsky, the Russian auteur who is widely considered by many as one of the most artistic filmmakers in cinematic history, kept a diary of Polaroid photographs depicting parts of his life.

Tarkovsky, a writer, film editor, film theorist, opera director as well as a filmmaker, built his legacy on expansive and poetic themes to his films. His use of dramatically takes, sparse and longing structure labelled him a pioneer of slow cinema.

The Russian had many idols, one of them being Ingmar Bergman who later said of the artist: “Tarkovsky for me is the greatest, the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream,” when asked about cinema’s most significant figures.

Tarkovsky was active up until his death in 1986, completing seven acclaimed feature films and three shorts. 20 years after his passing, in 2006, a book of 60 photos, Instant Light, Tarkovsky Polaroids, taken by the man himself in Russia and Italy between 1979 and 1984 was published.

“In 1977, on my wedding ceremony in Moscow, Tarkovsky appeared with a Polaroid camera,” Italian poet, writer and screenwriter Antonio ‘Tonino’ Guerra, once said. “He had just shortly discovered this instrument and used it with great pleasure among us. Tarkovsky thought a lot about the ‘flight’ of time and wanted to do only one thing: to stop it — even if only for a moment, on the pictures of the Polaroid camera,” he continued.

Writing in the introduction for the book, Guerra, added: “Tarkovsky often reflected on the way that time flies and wanted to stop it, even with these quick Polaroid shots. The melancholy of seeing things for the last time is the highly mysterious and poetic essence that these images leave with us. It is as though Andrei wanted to transmit his own enjoyment quickly to others. And they feel like a fond farewell.”

The result of the Polaroid book came as a collection which was selected by Italian photographer Giovanni Chiaramonte and Tarkovsky’s son Andrey A. Tarkovsky.

Here is a selection of his work:

Subscribe to our newsletter
Delivering curated content