Andrei Tarkovsky

Active - 1958 - 2007  |   Born - Apr 4, 1932   |   Died - Dec 29, 1986   |   Genres - Drama, War, Historical Film

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Biography by AllMovie

Considered one of Russia's most distinguished contemporary directors, the late Andrei Tarkovsky is known for highly personalized and poetic films. The son of poet Arseni Tarkovsky, he studied Arabic and first worked as a geologist before attending the State Film School in Moscow under Mikhail Romm. While there he made a pair of short films, "There Will Be No Leave Today" (1959) and the acclaimed Katok i Skripka/The Steamroller and the Violin (his diploma film). Following graduation in 1960, Tarkovsky went to work for Mosfilm and made his feature-film directorial debut in 1962 with Ivanovo Detstvo/Ivan's Childhood. The film earned him top honors at that year's Venice Film Festival. His sophomore film, Andrei Rublev, is Tarkovsky's most renowned work. Ostensibly a portrait of a 15th century Russian painter, the film is actually a metaphorical drama mirroring the plight of Russian artists. Some have expanded the film's parable to reflect the dramatic effects of war and chaos upon humanity. Many critics consider this film Tarkovsky's masterpiece, but though it was made in 1966, problems with Soviet censors deferred its release until 1971. The film won a FIPRESCI award at Cannes and brought Tarkovsky to the forefront of international cinema. His 1976 film Zerkalo/The Mirror, with its open-ended narrative and interesting camera techniques, was very popular among Russian intellectuals. An intimate, multi-layered autobiographical story in which the time frames fluidly move forward and backwards, it reflects Tarkovsky's dreams and his experiences growing up in an artist's community under Stalin's rule. It is considered by many a subjective companion piece to Ivanovo Detstvo, which looked objectively at a boy's experience growing up during the WWII era. In the early '80s, Tarkovsky started making films outside of Soviet Russia. But though he would make films in Italy, Sweden, and London, they would remain uniquely Russian in subject and tone. In 1984, Tarkovsky was unable to get formal permission to remain abroad and learned that should he return to Moscow that he would no longer be allowed to make films, so he defected to Western Europe. In 1986, he made his final film, Offret/The Sacrifice. The film won a Special Jury Prize at Cannes. Later that year, Tarkovsky died in Paris of lung cancer.

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