Books by and about Andrei Tarkovsky
Andrei Tarkovsky's Martyrolog
8 March, Tuesday, Via di Monserrato
I sent two proposals to Stockholm: Hamlet and The Witch. (Anna-Lena Wibom has received the letter.)
10 March, Thursday, Rome, Via di Monserrato
I reserved for five years my rights to The Witch and Hamlet.
22 May, Via di Monserrato
[...] I signed a contract for The Witch with Anna-Lena Wibom. [...]
7 August, San Gregorio
Yesterday I met with Giovanni Grazziani, the Director of the Centro sperimentale di cinematografia di Roma. He gave me a letter with an invitation to lead a seminar on the subject "What is Cinema?" in the academic year 1983–1984. I sent a copy to Moscow, to Yermash.
They phoned from America where they are waiting for me at the Telluride Film Festival. They said we should send two pairs of photos for the visas and let them know where we would be arriving from.
At four-ten this morning Lara was awaken by the noise of a car passing by. Ten minutes later she heard steps. Then for a long time someone was determinedly trying to open our front door. The door opened and somebody went inside. Larissa walked over to the window and saw no-one, no car either. One hour after her going back to bed someone left our house. It was five-twenty in the morning. I rang Franco who had a talk with Luigi Paini* and told him everything. Franco talked to Nicolo** who thinks there is no reason to worry. Perhaps we have a listening device installed: inside the telephone or in some other place. I don't know. We are very worried...
* [The San Gregorio landlord of the Tarkovskys]
** [A private detective]
18 August, San Gregorio
[...] Anna-Lena says, regarding the new idea for The Sacrifice, that I should go to Stockholm. That's too involved, I have to telephone her and take care of everything without me being there. [...]
27 August, San Gregorio
[...] Here is the answer from Goskino to Giovanni Grazziani's letter inviting me to lead the directors' seminar at the Centro sperimentale di cinematografia in Rome.
Mr. Giovanni Grazziani
Chairman, Centro sperimentale di cinematografia
Dear Mr. Chairman,
Having read your letter dated 6 June of this year to Goskino USSR regarding director A. Tarkovsky, I should like to inform you that the film studio Mosfilm demand fulfilling an obligation A. Tarkovsky had earlier taken upon himself when he signed a contract with the said studio to write the screenplay for the film The Idiot.
It is our position in this regard that Tarkovsky should put his affairs with the studio in order in Moscow. Besides, Higher School of Screenwriting and Directing expects A. Tarkovsky to begin lectures on film directing there.
These factors force us to ask you, Mr. Chairman, to put on hold your invitation for director A. Tarkovsky to participate in the seminar at your Centre until he clears his position regarding the issues mentioned above. I hope this request will not cause any unnecessary complications in future contacts between the USSR State Committee for Cinematography and your Centre.
Moscow, 4 August 1983
22 November, San Gregorio
[...] The Sacrifice.
Think about the rhythm. Do not allow the scenes already shot to mislead. Build the film's rhythm in advance. It is rhythm that sets the dramaturgy in film, in contradistinction to literature and drama.
23 November, San Gregorio
We stayed in England for almost two months. The rehearsals took one month. My work with Claudio Abbado went well and we parted as friends. The cast members were very good. The characters of the drama fit the actors perfectly. The production manager Jeff Phillips did a wonderful job.
Stephen Lawless — the assistant — and Irina Brown were very good. It was not so good with Dvigubsky. He spent a lot of money quite unnecessarily but couldn't provide what was most important. He had promised to polish up the production and all the elements that still needed it and had been telling the theatre staff the work was almost finished. [...]
In London I became closely acquainted with André Engel to whom I spoke rather coolly in Cannes. It turns out he is a very nice man. When I asked him why he distributed my films, as they were not very profitable, he responded that I was his "holy cow." This was very nice.
England is quiet, majestic, and homely. We didn't feel like leaving at all. New acquaintances, friends, new opportunities. [...]
In London I saw Anna-Lena who is very enthusiastic and although she has faith in Hamlet, she proposes to start working on The Sacrifice. She said she would be in Rome on the 28th. [...]
24 November, Thursday, San Gregorio
I began The Sacrifice yesterday. I worked on it a bit but the result is rather mediocre. I'm overexcited. Not much has cleared up. Eternal Return as the title? I cannot at all find the story with the dwarf in Thus Spake Zarathustra. Found it.
What is artistic creation? Conviction. And if it is conviction it means it is accompanied by errors. If errors then — does this indicate falseness? No, firstly, errors do not always indicate falseness, and secondly, why avoid errors if art utilises not truth, not essence, but an image of truth, an image of essence. [...]
5 December, San Gregorio
[...] Anna-Lena Wibom was in Rome, we talked about directing. We agreed the screenplay would be ready by the end of January and I'd begin shooting in June. I told her about Sven Nykvist and Erland Josephson. [...]
9 December, San Gregorio
Larissa telephoned Moscow yesterday and is very upset: Andryusha cries after every call. God, those bastards!
Franco told us yesterday it might be worthwhile to speak with Berlinguer. The risk is small. After all, regardless of the conflict between us and Moscow, they meet all the time, they depend on each other so to speak.
I'm tired. Difficult days!!!
If Yermash does not show up in the next few days with an offer to discuss things I shall have to inform the embassy that I'm requesting political asylum, and prepare everything.
7 January, Tuesday, San Gregorio
For the dream sequence (which may be entirely rewritten). The last shot from a close-up of Alexander bundled up in something (a coat?) to a long shot: the field, the grass, an extraordinary pearly light. The far reaches of the horizon and the sky dissolving into the mist. It turns out Alexander is on a cart on which a woman is sitting (with her back turned) dressed in white and driving him away toward the horizon. Crane. A long shot. Perhaps the only colour shot in the film. First a close-up of Alexander then a pan across the ruins where objects he knew have burnt, or their remnants to be exact, then the cart, etc.
The sound of a motorcycle passing nearby (the family is sitting at the table).
11 January, San Gregorio
[...] Tyapus has sent a moving letter — a drawing of the Brancaccio castle, very much like the real thing. About Andryushka I am afraid not only to write but even to think.
Rosi telephoned yesterday, he wants to see me. I gave him my phone number. He promised to call. The work on the screenplay is advancing very slowly and with great difficulty. [...]
13 January, San Gregorio
Anna-Lena is flying in on the 21st. She said Gromyko was arriving in Stockholm and the Swedish premier would present him a note regarding myself and my work.
24 January, San Gregorio
Anna-Lena was here on the 21st. We agreed I would be still writing the screenplay in February. In order to be able to start shooting on the 1st of August. [...]
10 February, San Gregorio
Lara has just telephoned from Amsterdam. Andropov is dead. Should we prepare new letters?
14 February, San Gregorio
Chernenko became the new General Secretary. Naturally he will now also become the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet. That's how it is with us — a tsar is a tsar. I spoke to Lara. She is very nervous. She had a conversation with some Amsterdam activist who hinted it would not be so easy and so fast to get Tyapa and Anna Semyonovna out.
What to do now? Write another letter to Chernenko? Lara sent letters to the Red Cross and some other place. [...]
22 February, San Gregorio
I sent the letter to Chernenko and the screenplay to Anna-Lena in Stockholm. [...]
9 April, San Gregorio
[...] Anna-Lena arrived with Katinka Faragó, the producer, and we talked about the future film. It seems RAI will participate in the production. For now we have Swedish Film Institute and an English company, the one that produced Gandhi. That's not enough, Anna-Lena thinks we'll have to raise two and a half million dollars.
Franco takes care of the production i.e., editing, sound (English, Italian, French versions), recording sound effects, editing [sic], music, etc. He is very happy. There are some problems with Sven Nykvist who, if I understood correctly, wants to arrive only when the shooting begins. This does not suit me too well. I'm used to beginning the work with the cameraman early on. The distributors from the FRG want to talk to Anna-Lena about participating in the production of The Sacrifice and Hoffmanniana. [...]
Tamara Ogorodnikova and Demidova are planning to visit Italy. (Although not together, I think.) They want to visit us. How courageous they are, really!
Andryushka is already quite distressed, like us, perhaps even more. How is this going to end? God, help us!
18 April, San Gregorio
The contract is being talked over with Anna-Lena. I asked for 300 thousand dollars. Anna-Lena told her attorney it was too much. Of course this is a lot. Perhaps I'll have to give in a bit.
Andrea Crisanti went to South America to do location search for Rosi.
Sergio sent a special letter to Andreotti describing the whole situation. Andreotti is planning to go to Moscow.
Volodya Maximov was planning to deliver the money for Anna Semyonovna through Bulat Okudzhava whom they helped here many times in the past. Okudzhava answered our family did not need anything. That's a good one!
I hope all formalities regarding the soggiorno and travel documents will be finished after Easter. If Andreotti's trip to Moscow fails I shall have to notify the ambassador (give him two weeks) and ask Americans for political asylum (get in contact with Maximov and Rostropovich).
Olga Surkova is staying with us now. She is working on the book or rather attempting to. She cannot even use a typewriter. Olga is behaving very strangely. She is starting to talk about money (!). She's gone completely crazy. How about just thanking her for her efforts some time soon?
28 April, San Gregorio
Anna-Lena has disappeared. Later Franco said Cao got in contact with Anna-Lena and she apparently says she has to go to Cannes to secure the money as Gaumont backed out claiming The Sacrifice was a non-commercial film. Later Larissa spoke to Anna-Lena on the phone and found out there was no reason to panic. Everything will clear up if not today then tomorrow although Gaumont did indeed back out.
30 May, San Gregorio
Haven't written anything in the diary for a while, probably because nothing happened to make me happy. And I don't feel like writing about unpleasant moments, it only makes me live through them again.
I went to Stockholm. I believe the business with the film is taken care of. We'll begin shooting in one year, in the spring, we have the money. Anna-Lena went to Cannes, she spoke to the Russian officials, with some new Nikonenko. She talked about me probably.
From their side it's always the same song: I have to return to Moscow and clear up all my affairs there.
I sent two letters. First to the ambassador in Stockholm, second to the ambassador in Paris. Their delivery was volunteered by: in Paris — the French minister of culture, in Stockholm — the Swedish minister of culture. I'm still not certain if Anna-Lena was able to organise the delivery.
Anna-Lena promised to phone and find out about Nykvist: will he be our cameraman? That depends on him obtaining funds for his own film project. She hasn't called yet, we cannot reach her by phone either.
Again some problems with our house, now we don't know whether it will be possible to realise our design. Lara and I must decide to take the last step!!! Slava Rostropovich thinks we'll make the right decision. In Moscow in the meantime — reactionaries in "full bloom." Chernenko is ill, he makes no decisions. Everything is passing through the hands of the Stalinists Ustinov and Gromyko. An awful situation in Afghanistan. Sakharov is in a tragic situation. Solzhenitsyn wrote a huge article on Rublov in his journal "Vestnik."* Why at this moment? Just now, when I am in such a difficult position? The Vladimovs sent me the text. They want to respond. We shall see. I have to read it first.
There are problems with the soggiorno and the travel visa. This is an unhappy period.
Olga Surkova is in Moscow. Tamara Ogorodnikova was in Rome during my absence. She met with Lara. She believes we should come back. Larissa explained to her our situation step by step.
* [Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Film o Rublove, "Vestnik Russkovo Khristyanskovo Dvizhenya", 1984 (141), pp. 137–144. This article is also available here.]
May 31, San Gregorio
I reached Anna-Lena by phone. She said everything was fine. Sven will work with us. She is now negotiating with the French regarding the delivery of my letters. (The Swedes and their ministry will do it at the same time.)
6 June, San Gregorio
One more unpleasant incident at this time: the architect who has antique buildings in Italy under his care did not approve our design. We'll have to look for ways to get around his decision. God, how complicated everything here is!
16 June, San Gregorio
Volodya Maximov came here again. We decided to prepare the press conference for 10 July. Slava Rostropovich and others will be there. We ought to persuade Fellini and Rosi (I doubt it).
Zhora Vladimov is preparing two articles about me and Rublov. The debate with Solzhenitsyn. I never expected Solzhenitsyn would turn out such a silly, malicious, jealous, and above all unreliable man.
I think I was finally able to settle the contract with Anna-Lena: 20,000 + 15,000 per day in Sweden. 3 months preparation, 5 months shooting. Total 8 months. 36 million + 5 (music) + 15 (editing). One has to deduct the taxes and 6 percent for Cao.
Paolo has promised to help us with the design of the house. And there is also a certain Don Sergio (from Mrs. Alberti) who told us he would come to see us, take a look, and later help.
3 July, San Gregorio
We are in terrible times now. There is the press conference in Milan on the 10th during which we'll make the announcement that we request political asylum in the USA. For now we don't know how Americans will react to my not being able to live in America since, I think, I'll be working more often in Europe. Problems with Anna-Lena's contract. I shall probably have to pay huge taxes even as a foreigner. Cao is looking for a solution.
Carlo Baumgartner telephoned from Frankfurt, he liked very much the screenplays he had been translating: Hoffmanniana and Light Wind. He wants to talk to German TV. He has read the very weak and primitive article about Rublov by Solzhenitsyn. I am really worried Olga may get into big trouble as soon as our press conference is over.
4 July, San Gregorio
Lara is very nervous although she tries not to give a sign of anything. She doesn't sleep at night. Watching this is very painful. Somehow I am not well adapted to this kind of life: for me it is full of pain. If that was the only thing: my dear ones who love me and whom I love, they are also suffering. It's as if the bonds between them and me were forcing them to suffer. What misery the awareness of this is!
Irina Alberti rang telling us everything was going well with the Americans. They agree to propose several possible ways to bend the rules. The press conference in Milan is scheduled for the 10th, at the Circolazione della Stampa.
I have to find out from Volodya Maximov who will be at that conference.
8 August, San Gregorio
Somehow I had no energy and no inclination to write. And how much has happened since! We celebrated Andryusha's birthday yesterday. We had guests. We talked with Moscow, calming them down as much as we could, kindling their hopes for quick arrival. I feel such a burden upon my soul I sometimes literally don't know what to do with myself.
On the 10th Movimento Popolare and Liberal Party organised the press conference in Milan for me and Lara. The organiser was Roberto Formigoni, a monk and — as it turned out — a nice man. Among those at the conference: Slava Rostropovich, Volodya Maximov, Irina Alberti, Yura Lubimov. Yura was stripped of his Russian citizenship. For the next two days newspapers in Europe, and in America to an extent, were writing about our difficulties and about the press conference. Lara and I are extremely tired.
I agreed with Repetti to change the publisher of the book. Then we went back to San Gregorio and on the 18th, I think, we left for London. There were two meetings: at St. James' Church and at the Riverside Studios. It was a great success. Particularly important for me was the talk at the cathedral devoted to the problem of the Apocalypse. We stayed with Tim and Ira Brown. We visited many people. A Committee was created to fight for our family rights.
Marina Vaykhovskaya is very active, she was herself in a similar, even more complicated situation with her son. She is a psychiatrist from Leningrad — refused to "treat" dissidents.
Franco Terilli said some Italian newspapers had stressed our main reason to refuse to return to USSR had been the desire to earn some money. Idiots! How simple everything is for them!
Now, in August, I absolutely have to sign the contract with Anna-Lena, go to Washington for a few days to take care of the documents, then return the passports to the Soviet consulate. I met the American ambassador to Italy. An odd impression, there is something of a Soviet man in him. But he was very pleasant.
We also have to submit a petition, through Italian Foreign Ministry — per our place of residence — demanding letting out Andryushka and Anna Semyonovna. The response is expected after 21 days. Then, if the answer is in the negative or if we obtain no answer at all, we'll have to act through Marina Vaykhovskaya and the London Committee. It would also be important to set something up in America, Italy, France, and Germany.
Problems with the design of our house. Meli does not want to sign it for anything. "Sindaco" and Don Sergio promised to help and fight to resolve the matter.
Krzysztof Zanussi telephoned, sent us greetings from Wajda.
9 August, San Gregorio
It looks like we can't send official invitation to Moscow during holidays which end around the 16th. The attorney [female] is waiting to see me tomorrow.
Anna-Lena has sent the contract and something is wrong with it again. She is haggling like a Gypsy, bordering on impropriety, and annoys me to no end.
3 September, Stockholm
I arrived in Stockholm on the 1st. The attorney and Anna-Lena have apparently come to an understanding. Only the daily rate has not yet been decided upon (50 or 70 dollars).
Christiana has arrived in San Gregorio, I met her husband Mario. They own a flat in Rome, at a good spot, but for the last four-five years some friends of theirs have been living there. Christiana promised to think how to evict them as they don't even want to hear about leaving. If she manages that, they would let us use the flat and we could (if we liked it) purchase it from Mario and Christiana. We decided to sell the house in San Gregorio and buy a flat in Rome. One has to begin in Rome. When Andryusha arrives he will have to go to school, i.e. to live, in Rome. A country home is second priority. One can find a better place, by the sea, with a house we could move in right away.
The Italian foreign minister's letter hasn't been sent yet. They are still deciding how best to formulate it. Due to my work starting I must postpone until mid-October the trip to America for the documents.
The French sent a letter informing about their desire to publish Sculpting in Time.
Lara is staying in Italy for the time being, to send the invitation for Tyapa to Moscow and, perhaps, also an official invitation through the consulate. Then we shall have to clear and pack all our belongings to vacate the rooms in San Gregorio and stop paying 250 thousand lira per month. In winter we are going to Berlin, to the Academy. But Andryushka and Anna Semyonovna come first. And the film, naturally.
I met with Sven Nykvist yesterday and today. A very good effective conversation about the film. I've been ill for three days now but today I'm beginning to get over this cold or 'flu. The day after tomorrow we are leaving for Gotland to select the locations. The photographs are very good, Sven will like them. From what I hear the main set — Alexander's house plus the surroundings — is ready.
9 September, Stockholm
I've been in Stockholm for several days now. The contract hasn't been signed yet, Anna-Lena has no inclination to pay higher rate than 50 dollars per day. I think I shall have to accept it.
Sven Nykvist made a very nice impression on me. We've visited Gotland already and viewed the previously selected location with enthusiasm. The only problem is opposition from ornitologists who are afraid we'll chase the birds away.
I haven't decided yet how and where to shoot the dream sequences. I only know I don't want to shoot any crowds. We haven't found Maria's home yet. I'm looking for a wooden unpainted house, a backyard with an abandoned agricultural machine overgrown with nettle in the middle, and towering above it all a blossoming bird's cherry tree. We have to find a house like this near Stockholm.
I was at Anna-Lena's summer home today. A gorgeous place and a humble wooden house. A surprisingly beautiful spot, near the bay. Silence and there is almost no-one around. An hour's drive from the city.
13 September, Stockholm
I've been trying to send money to Moscow all this time.
Watched The Mirror with Nykvist. A horrible print! Simply unbelievably hideous. I felt really ashamed.
The actress who will play Maria has flown in from Iceland. A very good face. Freckled and with good eyes.
Every day I write letters to Tyapa and Ola. For four days straight I've been sending them postcards with views of Stockholm and Sweden.
I thought of a solution to the fire scene so that all characters could be included in a single take.
I talked to Lara over telephone. Franco told me she was feeling very bad, completely lost her humour, and had been only drinking water for four days. She wants to slim and look better. She is suffering from insomnia.
15 September, Stockholm
I saw Bergman for the first time in person today. He had a meeting with young people at the Filminstitutet where he was presenting the documentary about the making of Fanny and Alexander, and providing a running commentary. Then he answered questions. He made an odd impression on me. Self-centred, cold, superficial, both toward the children and the audience.
19 September, Stockholm
Went to Gotland with Sven Nykvist. He made several tests to check the lab work. Before departure we watched Nostalghia. The cameraman's work impressed Nykvist deeply. It's true, Beppe Lanci did a magnificent job on this film. The Swedish print was better than the one in Cannes, and that was our answer print!
Nature on Gotland is magnificent. Only the weather was not right: wind all the time and a romantic sky covered with clouds.
On Monday in a dream I heard a voice as if Lara's: "We have not enough time, Andrei!" Very strange. I contacted Jill Clayburgh regarding the role of Adelaide.
21 September, Stockholm
We had supper with Katinka. It was very pleasant. I got the impression Sven was very lonely, he is still deeply influenced, I think, by that horrible tragedy when his sixteen-year old son cut his wrists and died. Sven is very lonely, he has no friends. I would love to have a friend like him.
22 September, Stockholm
Yesterday Anna-Lena informed me that the Japanese will not be participating in the production. Supposedly they got scared of my staying in the West and their company is doing some business with Soviet Union. Just what we needed!
I asked Anna-Lena: "So are we going to do this film or not?" She answered: "Of course." I wonder if that story with the Japanese is true or perhaps she is stalling on purpose, having something else on her mind...
6 October, Stockholm
Nostalghia is not being shown in Stockholm yet. For the time being the distributor hasn't found a good cinema for the opening and the shows. In France Nostalghia is not being shown (to this day!) because Gaumont did not fulfil their obligation toward RAI. Perhaps I'll be able to supplement my earnings at the Boris Godunov rehearsals in London. Early next week there will be an answer when and for how long I should go there (if they are interested) and information concerning the expenses.
For now we don't know about Gotland, whether they will allow us to work there. It all began with birds — there is a bird sanctuary there. If they won't allow it we shall have to start the search anew. But I doubt we'll be able to find anything better than this sanctuary. The actress who was to play Julia is pregnant. She is having her baby in May.
The money for Moscow has not been sent yet. Through Anna-Lena's friends it would be too expensive and it would be delivered only after three weeks. 10,000 roubles will cost 4½ thousand dollars. Very expensive.
Andryusha Yablonsky promised to get it done within a week (?) and much cheaper. That would be much better, of course, even if it meant paying 3330 dollars for 10,000 roubles.
Sven Nykvist and Anna-Lena are going tonight to a supper with the director of Centre National du Cinema in Paris, Pierre Viot. The supper is at the residence of the French cultural attaché. They want to discuss the possibility of France's participation in production of the film. The Japanese have pulled out for good. This Frenchman is an aid to the French minister of culture. It is possible we shall have to take a French actor. He also wants to talk about our future and about the citizenship problem.
I got the impression the Russians are afraid of my new film. Aksyonov, the director of "Lenfilm" who was in Stockholm, was inquiring of Anna-Lena about it. I was thinking of sending a request to Soviet Union through the Soviet ambassador for Oleg Yankovsky's participation in the film, and in this fashion — if they were willing to discuss this possibility — let them have the screenplay in English. Obviously they won't give us Yankovsky, but then who knows? I'm thinking of casting Roger Rees as the doctor.
I have to urgently see an international law expert regarding Andryusha.
7 October, Stockholm
We went with Anna-Lena to the supper at the French embassy cultural attaché's, also present was the director of Centre National du Cinema in France — a government organisation which finances both French films and foreign coproductions. They want to participate in the production of The Sacrifice. The cultural attaché has informed me officially that the French government is ready to help me and my family.
Anna-Lena is flying out to Paris today to sign appropriate documents with the French. Before leaving she mentioned a disgusting newspaper article informing the public it was I who personally set the cow on fire in Rublov and therefore I can be expected to be up to no good if I'm allowed to work in the bird sanctuary. We have to prepare an urgent denial. Nevertheless Moscow's hand is plainly visible here. Very plainly. Even here they won't leave me in peace.
12 October, Stockholm
I'm flying to London tomorrow. Selecting actors and the Boris rehearsals. John Tooley is proposing 1000 pounds, i.e. 2300 dollars, 4 million lira. I would like to increase the amount as it seems insufficient.
Larissa said Italian government had received the answer from Moscow which said we were Soviet citizens and our family problems were "internal affairs of the Soviet state." And thus our personal problems have become matters of state. The Italian ambassador in Moscow was informed that the children and Anna Semyonovna did not want to travel anywhere because no forms had been filed regarding uniting the family and travel. Andreotti is supposedly presenting this problem at the Italian parliament.
24 October 1984
To Andrei Andreievich Tarkovsky
My dear boy!
It's late autumn here as well and it rains all the time. In London where I staged Boris Godunov and looked for actors for my new film it was much warmer.
I hear Bondarchuk is making a film in Moscow based on Pushkin's Boris Godunov. It will probably be a very amusing film.
What's new with you, my dear? Were you able to find the books I was telling you about? How is Grandma? What's with Dakus? I'm afraid he'll start gaining weight again if he is not walked enough. And he shouldn't be overfed. A shepherd should be fed only once a day, in the evening. That's enough. How did you celebrate your common birthdays? After all, Dakus knows you both celebrate this holiday.
Any news about our country home? Has Olga managed to strengthen the foundations? It would be a good thing if she did that. Write me in your next letter, son, how you all live, what you do, whom you meet. About all new things in general, the ones I don't know about yet.
Have you seen Sergei Paradzhanov's film yet? If not, see it at the earliest opportunity.
Andrei Konchalovsky's film is in cinemas now (in Italy, not in Sweden). I haven't seen it yet but people who saw it say it's an ordinary American film. I am sorry for Konchalovsky. Hollywood would devour anyone. This is a commercial production and no-one who wants to remain an artist should have anything to do with Hollywood, should not change himself.
It is said Otar Ioseliani has made a good film in Paris. I haven't seen it yet but I'm definitely going to see it.
My hugs to you, my dear, and best wishes for everyone. Kiss Grandma and Olga. And Dakus of course.
26 October, Stockholm
I was in London. I haven't found any actors among those presented by the producers although there were lots of them. I couldn't meet with them because I had to go back for the press conference on 23 October. Anna-Lena changed it without telling me anything. I came back and so the money to pay for the trip was practically thrown down the drain. Just two more days and I would have finished everything. I didn't expect this sort of thing from Anna-Lena!
Still no documents relating to the contract. Franco said they would arrive any day now. Lara is very busy concerning Andryushka. Andrei Yablonsky and his wife are helping her. The Milan press conference has been moved to 23 November. Movimento Popolare is helping Larissa organise it. Larissa says Andryusha Yablonsky assured her our family would be let out before the New Year.
The actors at the Film Institute here are very good and the people are very friendly and nice. Without delay I have to send the request for Yankovsky to the ambassador. So they know at least what I'm up to. Of course they won't give us Yankovsky but they will be very surprised.
Stockholm, 26 October 1984
To Andrei Andreievich Tarkovsky
My Beloved Tyapa!
I'm sending you one more photo. This is also England, the home of Tim Brown. His mother lives here. She is ill and she lives in the country.
A writer also lives there, Nobel Prize laureate — William Golding. There is a Russian translation of his book Lord of the Flies. Read it, it's very interesting.
Son, give my regards to everyone and do not forget to write, all right? Kiss Grandma, Ola, Tosya, and Dakus.
Your Dad A. who loves you all very much, who misses you, and lovingly thinks about you all the time. Don't lose your spirits, everything will be fine!
My beloved boy,
I'm sending you one more photograph.
How are you doing, my dear? Are you in good health?
So far no changes with me here: I'm working, searching for the actors. I should have the entire cast before the 15th of November.
Nothing new happened here. We keep in touch with Mum by telephone. I hope we shall meet very soon.
Have you been reading much? I have just seen Gleb Panfilov's Vassa on TV. Have you seen this film? I was struck by the weak acting. All of them — no exception — are fake and unnatural! I felt almost confused — I always thought Gleb Panfilov was able to explain to actors what to do and how to do it.
I would love you to watch Paradzhanov's film and to write me about it. All right? Promise?
Be courageous, son. I love you very much, many hugs. Please — do not get sick.
Kiss Grandma and Ola. And Dakus. How is he? Write me about it as well.
29 October, Stockholm
A happy soul, as opposed to a leaden and gloomy soul, is already halfway toward salvation.
30 October, Stockholm
I bought at an auction a shawl for Lara. Very old and beautiful.
Anna-Lena made an appointment for tomorrow at the Swedish foreign ministry regarding our family. I asked Anna-Lena (after a conversation with Rome) to phone the attorney. She did not. She is playing a double game of some sort. The contract which she promised immediately to forward for the director's signature has arrived but I'm sure it hasn't been signed.
I intend to have a serious talk with her and the director. This is all so unreliable. I've been waiting for a year, have been working for two months, and still without a contract. This cannot continue.
31 October, Stockholm
Anna-Lena told Cao today we'd find out about the Japanese today or tomorrow, they should give a definite answer. Then the agreement will be signed. And if not? If the Japanese refuse? Too frightful to contemplate.
I went to the Swedish foreign ministry today. They want to help us as well and to present a declaration in Moscow concerning my family.
6 November, Stockholm
I asked Anna-Lena directly about the contract yesterday. She said due to the resignation of the Japanese company (they conduct some business with the USSR and are afraid to work with me after our decision to stay in the West), and Gaumont (it appears they have gone completely bankrupt) the position of the film is very difficult. I'm going to the Institute's director to talk about this.
I spoke to Lara. We have to put some pressure on the director of Channel Four in England (his wife is a member of the Committee for reunion of the Tarkovsky family). Perhaps he'd give more money. Apart from that, after the director of Centre National du Cinema in Paris has been dismissed there is no hope for their participation in the production. Despite all this Lara has found an access there as well. We have to contact the French culture minister who may resurrect the idea with the new director. Half a million dollars is missing. Anna-Lena went to London, then she is flying to Paris and Rome.
My beloved boy!
I'm sending you one more photo. We are location scouting with the cameraman Sven Nykvist. Now he is in Canada, he is making some American film there. Oh yes, I almost forgot. I saw Andrei Konchalovsky's Maria's Lovers. I have no words to describe how bad it is.
Konchalovsky has transplanted onto American life Platonov's story River Potudan which is a work of genius. In Konchalovsky's version the story has lost all of its poetry, force, and charm. A very, very weak film. Sasha Sokurov made a deeply affecting picture based on the story.
See it whenever you have an opportunity. And as for the story itself — read it and ask Ola or Seryozha for any explanations.
Andrei Konchalovsky is consistent. He always wanted to be liked by everybody. First by snobs — and he made A Nest of Gentlefolk. Then by so-called young people — he made A Lovers' Romance (not only for young people, also for the authorities), and finally, while still in Moscow, he made Siberiad through which he really wanted to win favours with the authorities. Now he wants to win favours with Americans and he made Maria's Lovers. I pity him very very much.
You know, son, when I heard your voice on the phone yesterday at last I understood how much you've grown.
Give my love to everyone! Everyone! Especially for Seryozha, Alosha, Volodya (both of them), Sasha Sokurov, Yura, Seryozha Paradzhanov, Araik, Dakus.
Many kisses to you
Your Dad A.
8 November, Stockholm
I'm off to notarise the signature on the invitation for our family to come to Sweden, as agreed with the Swedish foreign minister. Naturally this won't be a legal document for the Russians but it's important for the Ministry to have such document in order for them to legally, on a government level, request the release of our family. (If the answer to my request is negative.)
I phoned Lara who is now being very active there. She telephoned London and prepared Anna-Lena's appearance on TV. And I had a conversation with the director of Channel Four. Lara has also spoken to Andi Engel in London and contacted the foreign minister in Paris who promised his help in financing the film. There are results already. Channel Four are giving not 2 million but 2.9 million krona, that means 1 million more than previously set up. Anna-Lena rang this morning and told us the French negotiations turned out very well. Also the minister of culture wants to meet me in order to help with reuniting the family.
Oh yes, before all those panicky phone conversations I went to see Olofsson (the director of the Film Institute) and seriously talked to him about our problems and the lack of contract. Incidentally — I got the impression Anna-Lena did not perform her duties well and did not keep the director up-to-date.
David Gothard has helped us in London a lot. I have to go to Paris. The culture minister wants to see me: this is an absolute necessity because of the film and the family matters. So: on the 14th — testing the children, on the 16th — pack the suitcases and fly to Paris, from there to Milan (on the 22nd) where I have a meeting with journalists on the 23rd. I'll be meeting Lara only then. We shall return to Rome together to wait for the TV programme about Nostalghia, then — to Berlin where — perhaps — I'll make a short film about Rudolf Steiner with Alexander Kluge and write the shooting script for Hoffmanniana. We shall also begin the search for funding Hamlet. I have to write the screenplay and find some time for America. I need the documents! And perhaps make a film about St. Anthony? Before I begin collecting materials and work on the screenplay I have to sign the contract. Then, assuming everything goes well with The Sacrifice, I'll be in Stockholm from March to July. In August — Rome again. (By that time the problem with the house will have to be resolved.) Before the end of 1985 — editing and finishing the film. February — March 1986 (one month, if I feel like it) — The Flying Dutchman in London. Beginning January 1986 shoot Hoffmanniana with the Germans.
I had a very sad dream today. Again I saw a lake somewhere in northern Russia, the sun rising over the far shore, two Russian Orthodox monasteries with churches and frescos of rare beauty.
I felt so sad! Such pain!
Stockholm, 8 November 1984
To Andrei Andreievich Tarkovsky
My beloved Son!
Here is one more photo for you. Location scouting once again. From the left: Kaj – the administrator; Anna Asp (Asp means "aspen" in Swedish) – the production designer; Sven Nykvist. As you can see we are all feeling a bit depressed as the place we were looking at turned out not to be very interesting.
I'm working until the 15th. The first stage of the preparations is ending soon, it took two and a half months. Then I'm returning for a short while to Italy to take care of certain important matters with Mum.
How are Grandma and Olga? Write me about it because they always hide their health problems from me and then I begin to worry even more and imagine who knows what.
Write as often as you can and let me know what is happening. What do you read, what do you think of it? Do you like what you read? Why do you like or do not like it? For me this is all very interesting and important.
What's most important is that you should not be afraid to express your thoughts. Then they become more precise and clear-cut.
Ask the translator of my screenplay to tell all of you about it in detail. But you have certainly done so already.
How is Dakus? I beg you, do not let him turn into a fat sausage!
Give my regards to everyone. Zhenya and Svetlana, Masha and Volodya, Araik and Seryozha Paradzhanov. I don't need to mention Tosya, Alosha and Seryozha. First of all kiss Grandma from me.
10 November, Stockholm
Anna-Lena phoned from Paris yesterday. She said everything was in order. She is now going to let Olofsson know that the contract can be signed. I hope this means first priority is signing the contract with me.
I am falling behind with my work on the book for Christiana Bertoncini. Olga Surkova has just put it together in a slapdash manner. She simply transcribed the work material recorded on tape. A pure pot-boiler. It became obvious to me that in Moscow her father must have been writing everything for her, there is no other explanation.
All letters have been prepared: to Thatcher, to Reagan, to Schultz, and to Mitterand. Italian government is waiting for an answer to the official request submitted to Soviet government. If there is no answer or there is denial, all the Committees will begin their activities together. Jure Lina promised to organise Committees in Sweden, Finland, and Norway.
Jure Lina telephoned (it is midnight already). He said he was beginning to act now. And he has the Committee almost organised. He's got thousands of ideas and is coming to see me tomorrow together with a very important woman, very experienced in these matters. He is so active and so enthusiastic about the Committee idea that I think his Committee will be the best in the world and he its most active member.
8 January, Berlin
I haven't been writing God knows for how long. So much has happened since. I went back to Italy, straight to Milan. I saw Lara there. [...]
Next — Florence. There was an audience meeting there (Movimento Popolare again). An incredibly beautiful room. There was an enormous mass of people, very enthusiastic and sympathetic. The meeting was a huge success. Toward the end the audience members asked questions. One of them (from a very nice young man) concerned my thoughts on the Italian concepts of socialism (opposing the Soviet ones). I answered that I agreed completely with the government of the USSR which maintained there could exist no other socialism or communism.
I spent several magnificent days in Florence with Lara. We went to the Uffizi Gallery at the time no public was there. The Adoration of the Kings is overwhelming. [...]
We went to Ansedonia. Larissa showed me Roccalbegna, an astonishingly beautiful place, where we could buy a house (more like ruins, one could construct a new house) and the land — 12 hectares. For 23 million lira. I think we should absolutely do it. [...]
Lara and I are in Berlin now on an invitation from the Art Academy. Yakovlev has already made telephone calls to Gambarov (Sovexportfilm) and to the KGB, obviously, and said he "saw me." [...]
11 January, Berlin
[...] Regarding Kluge, I'm curious whether we'll be able to do something for television within our time frame here. Carlo mentioned TV expressed interest in Hoffmanniana, but it has to be decided without delay whether I should do Hoffmanniana immediately following The Sacrifice. I should agree to do it and start looking for the money.
Volodya Maximov contacted us with (so far by telephone only — tomorrow we are going to her for dinner) Irina Pabst — a very influential Russian friend of Springer's. She had already helped us resolve the conflict with Ullstein publishers over the losses related to publishing the book. [...]
18 January, Berlin
Already for two days I had terrible dreams again. The lake with the monastery again, Sizov who signed my leave application. Russia, Orthodox churches, Kostin... But the details don't matter — everything is ambiguous in general.
23 January, Berlin
Carlo came from Frankfurt to see me yesterday. They want to know my conditions regarding the money for the screenplay and for directing in order to decide if they can go ahead with the film. I have to work some more on the screenplay to estimate the cost of Hoffmanniana. We discussed the translator. I haven't enough time. On the 2nd I'm going to Stockholm, then to Paris to finish discussions with the French actress who plays Julia.
A few days ago Anna-Lena telephoned and said she was going to Japan regarding the Sacrifice funding. I don't understand this at all, everything was agreed upon. Is it possible they are still unable to find the money?
28/29 January, night, Berlin
In Moscow it turned out the recommendation for Andryusha was unnecessary because he ought to apply for permanent stay and Anna Semyonovna only for half a year. Olga does not qualify. We want to arrange a fictitious marriage for her. It would be better for her to finish university in Moscow. At any rate, we decided not to include her on the application for permit to leave.
Ola and Andryusha are in Suzdal now, visiting Maximilian Schell. I'm so happy they can be with him. They are delighted. I'm very indebted to him for his kindness. After all, my "friends" are so scared they not only avoid telephone calls to our home, they even pretend not to notice our children's greetings. They cross the street if they meet them by chance.
Max even found out how to make phone calls from Suzdal to Berlin and we could talk to Ola and Andryusha.
I asked Andryusha to talk to Maximilian and tell him all about our problems with the passport office. I'm going there tomorrow to file the application. If this works out then Dakus will be brought here by Maximilian, he suggested it himself.
1 February, Berlin
The whole thing, of course, didn't work out. They did not accept the documents at the office. The invitation wasn't formulated properly. A new one has to be sent:
1. addressed to Director, not to the Office;
2. if it is for permanent stay, a proof of my right to live in Italy ought to be attached;
3. it has to be certified by the Soviet Consul.
27 February, Berlin
[...] Saw Carlo Baumgartner — we prepared an estimate (they are paying 10,000 marks for it). Carlo says the attorney asked for too much money. 150,000 dollars for the screenplay [Hoffmanniana]; 350,000 dollars for directing, plus daily wages, telephone, flat, heating, etc.
8 March, Stockholm
[...] For the time being we have no performer for the little boy (in The Sacrifice). Or rather — not yet. I'm really worried.
12 March, Stockholm
Larissa telephoned from Berlin yesterday and said Chernenko was dead. His place was taken by Gorbachov. If Gorbachov — it means for a long time, and if he's got some scoundrelly plans — we are done for!
27 March, Stockholm
[...] We visited Iceland with Lara. I left early, Larissa is staying a bit longer.
Swedes are beautiful — and dumb.
6 May, Gotland
Today is the first shooting day, here on Gotland. Instead of filming two scenes as planned we did two takes, not the night ones as we wanted but the morning ones. Had we departed quarter after three rather than quarter after five everything would have turned out differently. Katinka Faragó was right from the start in her insistence on a morning departure. And I changed it: it had been cloudy the day before. Although the mercury had been rising steadily. But I had no faith in barometer.
The Swedes are passive, lazy, not interested in anything. They are sticklers for formalities: one ought to work 8 hours a day and not one minute longer. On location! Certainly it must be the only country in the world where working in film is treated like office work, according to clock and it does not occur to them that film is created. Where there is creation there is no room for rules and regulations, and vice-versa! They work badly, really badly.
Lara often feels ill (she is in Berlin) and I am really worried about her. As for Andryusha, Springer has raised our hopes — he attaches great importance to Reagan's meeting with Gorbachov this August. So do the Icelanders and their Committee. Each sent a letter to Gorbachov and they prevailed upon the Soviet ambassador to obtain a response from Gorbachov as soon as possible. The ambassador first promised an answer within two weeks, then after the May holidays. We are expecting it any day now.
Because of the upcoming elections in Italy Formigoni is quibbling over our citizenship and the documents. To this day we haven't received the documents Italians have promised us.
There is panic in Rome: they are afraid Communists will be in power. This would mean troubles ahead for Larissa and me.
Lara is treated by a Chinese doctor, has made dentist appointments, and is learning English — well done! I am really concerned about her health. She worries herself sick — over our situation and Andryusha.
News from Sasha Sokurov: he says when I talk about him here in the West he feels relieved. They do not harass him as much. Still the film is shelved — as "ellitist." Oh God!
Rumours are floating Yermash filed a memo which stated we had no need for any auteur films, only "for the masses." And afterwards, so they say, somebody from the Central Committee [of the Communist Party], from the culture department, wrote just the opposite memo: that we needed not only films for the masses but auteur films as well. And that it was wrong our misguided policy resulted in losing good directors. I don't know how much truth is in it.
Sven Nykvist and I do not understand one another at all yet. This is an exceptionally important matter. He is already beginning to understand what I want, however.
How crazy this life is: me — here, Lara — in Berlin. She must come here and be with me. I feel bad without her.
28 July, Stockholm, Sibyllegatan 77
I haven't written anything all this time. I haven't even brought this diary with me for my second Gotland trip. I was terribly busy but — above all — it was impossible to tear away from the film. Never before has the work on a film been so difficult as it is now with The Sacrifice.
First of all it was difficult with Sven Nykvist. He is not as young and as absorbing of new ideas as for example Sasha Kniazhinsky or Beppe Lanci are. Before he understood what it was about half of the film was gone. And before I caught on to what was going on and began to compose framing and camera movements, etc., myself, which by the way I had done on all my earlier films, again some time was lost. Many (almost all) takes from the first trip to Gotland did not come out and I was forced to reject them. Nevertheless entire material was shot on time (55 days).
We also reshot the fire scene which did not work out first time around. Firstly, halfway through the scene the camera broke down. It was Sven's fault: he shouldn't have used a camera which had jammed several times before. The camera belongs to the Film Institute, which means to nobody, and it's always like this with any public, government, or communal property. Secondly, the English special effects expert bungled the fire completely. He was able neither to control the fire (something he had promised), nor to set the car and the tree on fire at a specific moment. Everything was torn, the cables burnt, etc. The Englishman got a load of money and happily departed, leaving his obligation unfulfilled. His contract was prepared (by Anna-Lena?) completely unprofessionally. Any person taken right from the street could — with such a contract — act as an expert. His obligations had been communicated to him just verbally.
At first Anna-Lena panicked and said the scene was very bad (because it wasn't filmed in a single take) and that she did not know what to do. Then she thought it over and discusssed it with our monster "Katyenka" (what kind of name is that!) and came to the conclusion that it was good enough. And I said it wasn't good enough. She dragged it on (losing 2 days) and together with "Katyenka" she found the arguments: the new set would cost 60,000 dollars (!), nowhere to hire the construction workers from (!), the burnt set was built over a four month period — and now there is no time. I telephoned Larissa asking her to come here immediately to help me straighten out this whole mess. Lara calmed me down and we decided our course of action.
Anna-Lena told Larissa I had agreed to edit the scene out of existing material. Then she disappeared. Larissa found her again and told her the film had no ending and that I'd be forced to explain to the producers (and to Anatole Dauman especially) why the production wasn't working. And he was just about to come to Gotland. Anna-Lena laughed derisively but she got frightened and having secured the Institute director's permission (although as she said she probably didn't need his permission) she immediately found the workers and the set got built in one week or even less. And it obviously didn't cost 60,000 dollars. I shot the scene for the second time on the last, fifty-fifth, shooting day.
Anatole Dauman and Chris Marker (who shot a video on the set) have arrived. Also Gilles Alexandre, a journalist from "Telerama." Before leaving they viewed the material and they loved it. I really don't know what they found in it.
Lara arrived on Gotland with Christiana Bertoncini and Andryusha Nekrasov with whom she is learning English. Next week she is going to Berlin for her driving licence exam (she bought an Opel in Berlin), she is seeing the Chinese doctor and buying furniture in Florence. The flat over there is ready. On 15 September I'd like to begin editing in Florence or rather to continue it. Gaetano has already bought building materials in Roccalbegna and today he met with the architect. They went to see everything on the spot in order to prepare the building plans.
The Germans in Frankfurt are ready to sign with me the contract for Hoffmanniana in September. I mentioned a proposal from Anna-Lena who wanted me to make a film about Kierkegaard with a budget of one million dollars. She told me she had already arranged production with Zanussi. If she hadn't then perhaps I would do it. We shall see.
For now I must come to an agreement with Anna-Lena so we could stay here with Lara until mid-September. Naturally there will be problems — home, daily rates. We shall see.
A lot has been done in Tyapa's case: Larissa met with Mitterand who promised to help. As did Willy Brandt. Also the foreign minister of Iceland. And Andreotti. But so far nothing new, Gorbachov is behaving just like Andropov, faithfully following in his footsteps. It is rumoured they will be letting Jews out again. Perhaps it's only yet another KGB disinformation? Hard to say.
I'm editing the film with Michal Leszczylowski, a Pole living in Stockholm.
I long for Tyapus terribly and — surprise — for Italy. The film ought to be edited here — because of the language. But I promised Franco Terilli this job and I must keep my word.
Oleg Vidov phoned from Rome today. He married fictitiously a Yugoslav, he worked there, acted in film, then escaped to Italy through Austria and in Rome asked Americans for political asylum.
I spent a fortnight on Gotland with Lara. Anna-Lena helped us by renting for that period a house right on the seashore, a very nice one (Sven Nykvist and Erland Josephson stayed here during the filming). The weather was astonishing. Sunny and warm. Every day we would go walking for hours, picking wild strawberries and there were oodles of them. Nature here resembles our Baltic coast countries. A combination of forest, pines, and northern sea with astonishingly beautiful rocky shore where hundreds of birds live. Lara and I even thought of buying some tiny house here which we could stay in for several weeks a year when Italy is sweltering hot.
We spent several happy, peaceful days. We didn't feel like leaving. The happier one is, the faster time flies. We rested a bit. Only this longing for Tyapus!
The happiest way of life is one that offers us most opportunities of gaining self-respect.
Happiness cannot be achieved through self-observation. It is experienced only when it reflects off another person.
3 August, Stockholm
We arrived in Stockholm. We are editing at the Film Institute, there is a very good editing table here. Lara is preparing to go to Berlin. This is caused by the necessity to finish off the house in Florence. Sadness.
Ernst Neizvestny telephoned: he is in Sweden, he has a museum and an atelier here. He says he comes to Sweden every summer. I intend to see him.
Carlo Baumgartner asked to postpone the signing of the Hoffmanniana contract until 15 September. While on Gotland I met with Tommasi — the set designer with whom I intend to work on the Flying Dutchman in Covent Garden.
To do: Gospel (Steiner), Steppenwolf (Hesse), Poor Joan or Inquisitor, St. Anthony. Jan (Joan)-na.
8 August, Stockholm
A lot has been happenning. I began editing the film and I'm preparing the third variant already. The first was simply the whole material put together. The second was 2 hours 36 minutes long.
Went to Italy with Lara, we were given Italian documents. The passport similar to the Nansen one. Confusion and disarray accompanied it all. Under the 30 degree heat it was all exceptionally tiring. Yet everything turned out well in the end. We have a right to obtain Italian citizenship after five years. As proscribed by law we were now offered political asylum in Italy.
Personally I don't care when it happens. Italians promised to settle this much earlier. Now we have a meeting with a lawyer from Milan, Andreotti's friend, whose fees Movimento Popolare want to cover. We are going to see him when Lara and I are back in Florence. This is scheduled sometime after 20 September. I'll be finishing the editing for a month over there. Franco Terilli is setting everything up. I think the film is a success.
We met with the deputy mayor of Florence who confirmed we were given a flat at our disposal (120 m² in the centre, with a balcony). Larissa intends to secure from them another room — gallery on the top floor and to convert it into a study for me. For now they are letting us keep an editing table and work there.
Larissa is in Berlin where she is buying furniture and other necessities. She wants to furnish the Florence flat before 20 September. This is no easy task. Natan Fyodorovsky and Christiana are helping her.
28 September, Switzerland, on the way from Sweden to Florence
Larissa is in Florence already and is furnishing the flat. She bought lots of antiques in Berlin: plates, kitchen furniture, carpets, gorgeous old chandeliers and lamps, mirrors, candle holders. One could not even list it all. Also the audio equipment, the VCR, and a stereo TV — for me and my work. It's all necessary for a nice and homely place. And it was all relatively cheap considering she was buying only antiques, except for kitchen furniture naturally. Natan was very helpful. It was he who named prices to the shopkeepers and they agreed! Simply unbelievable! Larissa speaks of them all as her friends. As a result two houses were furnished at the same time if one includes our (future) country home. Lara thinks the money spent on antiques is not wasted as the antiques will appreciate in time. I think so too. All this required two large trucks which Natan also helped to hire (much below the official rate, through his connections). I'm forever indebted to him for everything. Thanks to him and Christiana Lara was not so lonely in Berlin.
But after arrival in Florence all sorts of problems arose. All this furniture had to be carried up to the sixth floor (no lift, spiral staircase), carefully so nothing would break. She took a knock (as always), poor thing. Scary to think how much. Franco Terilli who was in Florence at the time did not help her at all. I was really surprised and saddened by this. Perhaps he was afraid of difficulties and responsibility? Larissa managed by herself. She was helped by the young people from Movimento Popolare. Nevertheless, she had to do most of the work. Her talent, energy, stamina, and patience never cease to amaze me. What would I do without her. I hope now, after five years of life of misery we are going to have OUR OWN home.
Lara is convinced (so am I) that since we have a home, Andryusha and Anna Semyonovna will come. Not too much money is left in the bank. Considering the future contracts I think this can be fixed. Signing new contracts is most important.
I'm on my way to edit Sacrificio. On the 2nd or 3rd I have to fly to Paris to see Lang and I think Mitterand, and to be at the press conference for Andryusha.
I believe the film is a success although I think I no longer possess the ability to understand, to evaluate my work. I don't like the work of others. It seems I completely lost my admiration for Bergman and Nykvist with his photography. But the photography he did for the film was very good.
I must quickly exchange the remaining dollars in a Roman bank. The dollar is falling like a rock.
I briefly met with a lawyer in Zurich. A gloomy conversation about the taxes. Without fail I shall have to find in Florence a lawyer who could take care of my taxes. It's so hard. I have no energy left. I cannot go on like this without Andryusha any more. I have no will to live.
10 November, Stockholm
I had a wonderful month in Florence editing the film. Lara and I stayed with Benedetto Benedetti. He is a very pleasant, very good man, completely immersed in opera. His hospitality made me feel at home. He would frequently cook and prepare magnificent, elaborate suppers for us. I edited every day from 9am to 7pm. [...]
Florence has made the nicest impression on me. A fairy-tale, magical city, bringing hope and faith in better future. There are problems with the flat here. The block where the flat is hasn't been quite finished yet. There is no lift, gas, etc... Gaetano came here from Roccalbegna and helped us put it in order. Inside — cardboard walls and ceilings. Larissa wants to secure the room on the higher floor for my study. Unending bureaucratic and administrative problems. If I had a choice I would thank for the hospitality, snap my fingers at them and leave.
I have edited the film. Henri Colpi arrived, saw it and said the film could not be shortened. There will be a row anyway. The French producer (Dauman) and the Swedish distributor will insist on 2 hr. 10 min., as in the contract, but I cannot make the film shorter than 2 hr. 30 min. I talked to Klas Olofsson, the Film Institute director, who said the film could not be shorter and asked to convene an art council regarding the matter. He also asked to set up a show for Bergman. I'm waiting for soundtrack tests. [...]
Krzysztof Zanussi telephoned. He was very nice and offered us his small Paris flat should we ever need it.
I spoke to Jure Lina: he arranged a meeting with "the witch." She wants to see me.
11 November, Stockholm
I met with Olof Palme today. He said there were two approaches. The first: a request through the foreign ministry to allow my son to come to Sweden officially. In legal sense this is almost impossible. The second: he will personally send a letter to the government of the USSR asking that Tarkovsky's son be let out to the West (doesn't matter where to). And he'll deliver this letter through his ambassador in the USSR. This solution would be, obviously, much better.
13 November, Stockholm
The voice tests have not been prepared to this day. This is simply incredible. As a result we are losing time as we have no variants prepared with other actors.
18 November, Stockholm
I'm ill. Bronchitis, some nonsense with the occiput and muscles pressing on the nerves. Because of that I feel pain in my neck and arms. I'm coughing and have a running nose. And we should be working on the soundtrack now. We are losing time.
19 November, Stockholm
[...] I talked to Moscow. And what news can I tell them!
Without me the work at the Film Institute grinds to a halt.
23/24 November, Stockholm
I am rather seriously ill.
I had an awful clash with Anna-Lena over the 2 hours and 10 minutes.
Marina Loupan has left Andryusha Yablonsky. Andryusha is in a lot of pain.
Lucy arrived from Warsaw and is in our home in Florence. Thank God, Larissa won't be alone anymore! I phone her twice a day every day but she is very upset because of my illness and she insists on a general medical examination which she thinks I absolutely must do.
The talks between Gorbachov and Reagan are over. There is hope for next year.
30 November, Stockholm
[...] Anna-Lena cannot and does not want to work at all. Her only concern is saving money. An awful argument because of film length.
I'm ill. I should have had blood tests and a chest X-ray done. I have no results yet. Lara telephoned. She is very worried. What can I tell her?
6 December, Stockholm
I'm ill. [...]
The X-ray results are in. There is a dark spot on the left lung. Either pneumonia or something worse. The doctor sent the X-rays off for consultation. Yesterday I was coughing blood. Also today but not as much. I miss Larissa so much, particularly when I don't feel well.
10 December, Stockholm
[...] Anna-Lena sent a telegram to Cao saying that if I do not shorten the film she will not pay me the remaining 55 thousand dollars. For now this is only blackmail. I have received a sharply worded letter from the Film Institute director and I answered it very dryly to the effect that I was surprised by his position: either he wants a film by Tarkovsky or some random commercial film 130 minutes long (the length is written down in the contract). Then I was on the phone with Anna-Lena for almost an hour. Then she had a talk with the director and said my letter contained valid arguments. [...]
11 December, Stockholm
[...] Forman's Amadeus got 8 Oscars. It's worthless anyway. In every respect. Maybe one Salieri isn't too bad except the concept of the character is terrible. Not so much terrible as not too human. [...]
13 December, Stockholm
This is a true black Friday. I went to see a doctor at the [Karolinska?] clinic. They were very precise. Even too precise! [...] They took another X-ray (or several X-rays). There is something in the left lung. The doctor said it's either an inflammation (doubtful because the dark patch didn't go away despite the antibiotics I had been taking) or TB or a tumour. [...]
15 December, Stockholm
[...] But Lara comes first. How am I going to tell her? How can I inflict, with my own hands, such a terrible blow on her?!
21 December, Stockholm
I'm flying to Italy on the 23rd. Taking everything with me. I want to see Michal Leszczylowski to tell him how he should touch up the film if I'm unable to go to Stockholm to do it. [...]
How is Larissa going to take it all? How should she behave toward Andryusha and her mother? We still must insist on their arrival here. Andryusha needs freedom. One cannot live in prison. We are on this road and we must walk it to the end.
I arrived home yesterday. Franco Terilli was waiting for me in Rome and drove me to Florence in his car. The journey was tolerable (although I frequently took the medicine prescribed by the Swedish professor — ordinary painkillers, of course). For now I haven't told Franco anything.
A radiant Larissa has greeted me. She didn't suspect anything and full of joy she was showing me the rooms which stunned me. Everything is beautifully furnished, in good taste. I have no idea how she has managed it, in such a short time, slightly over a month, from all this chaos and all those imperfections of the flat itself to create such a thing. Everything is already done, even the fireplace — bricks and everything needed for it. Larissa alone with Lucy's help has brought all this upstairs. No-one (even for a fee) would want to carry such a heavy load up to the sixth floor. Gaetano has a backache, that's why he couldn't help. Bent double he tried to finish the fireplace before my arrival because there is no heating in the block yet. Lara bought gas heaters but they are not sufficient.
A surprisingly nice and comfortable kitchen, living room. The other room is darker with very beautiful wooden wardrobes and she turned it into an excellent place to keep clothes. Andryushka's room is furnished with English antiques. A splendid room for Anna Semyonovna. But of all this I liked our bedroom most, with comfortable old-fashioned beds, an iconostas of good early icons which Lara and Natan bought in Berlin, in the shop "Russian Icons."
Generally speaking, everything is ready for living. Larisa wants to organise New Year's party to celebrate the new flat, she is convinced our family will soon be here. With all this commotion I forgot about the most important — how to tell her? When I saw Lara I understood how dear she was to me and how much I needed her in these terrible times.
Andryusha Yablonsky arrived a bit later the same evening. Mariana has left him, he is completely broken. [...] I had a long conversation with him although I was lying down, feeling tired. We drank the great village wine and we ate pecorini Lara had brought from Roccalbegna. He knows the extent of my illness and tries to persuade me to undergo treatment. But I know the character of the tumour cells and I am convinced treatment would only mean prolongation and increase of the suffering — and why suffer so much?
I decided until New Year's Day not to tell Larissa anything. [...]
We greeted New Year, did not invite anyone. I am not feeling well. The only guests by the big festive table were Andrei Yablonsky, Gaetano, and Lucy. I tried to keep a stiff upper lip and not ruin the holiday. There were toasts to my health, to the reunion with Tyapa and Anna Semyonovna this year, to realisation of my creative plans. I barely held out. We received a multitude of greeting cards and telephone calls. We phoned Moscow, talked to our dears there. Lord, strengthen my will! Life is so difficult, simply unbearable.
Larissa worries about my health a lot, she insists that I should call a doctor and she looks at me somehow anxiously and searchingly as if she suspected something. I keep putting off that horrible moment of telling her. I'm afraid. The pain increases with every passing day. I have to get a new prescription at once. My head feels heavy — it's difficult even to read. Only one thought: what will happen to Lara and the children.
Everything went as I predicted. This was what I had feared most. Larissa on her own had guessed and asked Yablonsky directly about it. And he — instead of preparing her, finding the right words — told her honestly that I had (if I was not treated) between four and six weeks to live, and that I downright refused to be treated, I could not be persuaded. Larissa went into shock, was unconscious for several hours, the doctors with great difficulty managed to revive her. She was lying all day and night unaware of her surroundings, numb, not crying and not talking to anybody as if life had left her and only the body was there with wide open unmoving eyes. I truly felt so horrible I forgot the main reason for this accident. [...]
Larissa has recovered. She contacted oncologists. She telephoned Sweden, talked to the professor who had examined me and given his opinion about the tumour, then she phoned Léon Schwartzenberg in Paris who is thought to be the best oncologist in Europe. He told her we should come immediately after Christmas, after the holidays, i.e., on 8 January. Every day counts. Lara has proved to me I have to undergo treatment. [...]
Larissa and Yablonsky are making preparations for the trip. Krzysztof Zanussi is letting us use his flat in Paris. But I'm worried how I'll manage during the flight. At home, in Moscow, we haven't told anyone anything. I'm afraid rumours will reach them. Lara told Ola on the phone that if they hear anything about my illness it is a trick to help Tyapus and Anna Semyonovna to come here. The poor thing believed it, of course.
Carlo Baumgartner has arrived — the producer from Berlin to sign the Hoffmanniana contract. Neither Lara nor — obviously — I were in a condition to meet him. He talked to Yablonsky. He is afraid and very worried about me. We phoned Irina Brown in London to warn Tooley the work on the Flying Dutchman would be impossible. Things look pretty bad.
10 January, Friday, Paris, hospital
[...] Marina Vlady has just telephoned, she is helping us together with Léon Schwartzenberg who is my doctor. She phoned and said ambassador Vorontsov told her Andryusha would be let out literally within days. Did we really need a mortal illness in order to be together! Now, Andrei, one must live! The night nurse and Ali came to give me and Lara their greetings. Ali is also a night nurse.
11 January, Paris, hospital
Yes, I forgot about something important yesterday: Marina gave me two cheques for sixteen and five thousand francs to cover the treatment. Otherwise there would be no money to pay for the scanner. She is simply an angel.
We (now including Lara) are staying at Zanussi's. Everyone is helping us. France wants to give us very quickly passports, a flat, and cover the treatment to the end — sounds so gloomy.
Lucy is in Florence, in the empty flat full of expensive furniture and electronic equipment. I don't think it's safe. [...]
Just a moment ago two people from the Soviet embassy were here. The cultural attaché Victor Sokovich (I met him once at Kondrashov's) and Aristov, the first secretary. They brought a letter from the ambassador. Andryusha and Anna Semyonovna can go, they will tell us when.
12 January, Sunday, at Marina's
Today we moved and have already slept in Marina Vlady's home. I didn't feel too good during the night. [...] I telephoned Moscow but Andrei wasn't home. I talked to Ola. She is very sad, poor thing. I was calming her down as much as I could: I told her that Mum and I would do what we can to have her come here as soon as possible. In Moscow they know already our family is going to Paris, somebody visited them and mentioned they would be departing on Saturday. It is necessary to resume the activities regarding their arrival and to take care of the train connection. Because of the search at the Sheremetyevo airport they will not be able to take everything they need. This is so strange — neither Anna Semyonovna nor Andriushka ever flew on an airplane, until now. I can't believe in the possibility of their arrival at all, nor in Tyapus being content here.
16 January, at Marina's
[...] Late in the evening we talked with Andryusha, Anna Semyonovna, and Ola. Andryusha and Anna Semyonovna know nothing about my illness.
18 January, Saturday, at Marina's
[...] I talked with Moscow. I think I'm staying home, I'm not going to the airport, I feel too weak. It could be too depressing. [...]
19 January, Sunday, at Marina's
Andryusha and Anna Semyonovna have arrived! Anna Semyonovna hasn't changed one bit, she was only feeling tired and weak which is understandable with all the travelling and new experiences. I wouldn't recognise Andryusha in the street, he grew much taller, 1 m. 80 cm., 15 years old at that! A good, loving boy with a great smile. This is all like a miracle!
Léon wrote a letter to Mitterand, who in turn wrote a petition to Gorbachov. Gorbachov ordered their immediate release. Only last Saturday I was writing the letter to the ambassador (the decision had probably been made already) and within exactly one week they are already here. Unbelievable!
Chris Marker greeted and filmed them at the airport and in Marina's flat. I couldn't get out of bed and go to the airport. Naturally, they were harassed at the Sheremetyevo airport. They delayed their departure because of some supposedly incorrectly processed visa formalities. And then at the last moment they cleared them for departure. As a result they lost their luggage.
21 January, at Marina's
Must try to move to the city today, she is leaving on the 24th. Max Shostakovich phoned, asked if he could help, he wants to see us. [...]
22 January, rue Claude-Terrasse
We moved from Marina's home to temporary lodgings in Paris. 42/71 rue Claude-Terrasse. I had a bath and felt really bad, the pain again. Léon was here this evening, on Sunday I'm going to the clinic again. [...]
Michal arrived from Stockholm in the evening.
Tyapus hasn't seen Paris yet. Larissa is so busy, she has no time to spare, she is bustling about feverishly, all the domestic matters and taking care of me are on her shoulders. There is no money to hire anyone to help. The treatment is very expensive, so is the flat, and living in Paris isn't cheap either. I am really worried if she has enough strength left. [...]
24 January, Paris
Everybody showed up today: Anna-Lena, Sven Nykvist, Michal, and Layla. I have prepared the screenplay for publication and worked on the monologues. Then I shortened two scenes: Alexander's first monologue (with the boy) — 1 minute 40 seconds, and Otto's monologue with the quote from Montaigne — 40 seconds.
Léon was here, bringing good news on the blood analysis results, he said I should go to the clinic as soon as possible. Right this Sunday while the treatment works well and remains active.
In the evening we had tea in the family circle, we reminisced a lot, it was a good conversation, very pleasant. To this day I can't believe Andryusha and Anna Semyonovna are here, I fear I'm going to wake up.
Layla made Andryusha and Anna Semyonovna somewhat uneasy with her extravagance, not to mention Larissa who cannot stand her. For her lack of manners and unreasonable ambition. Not without reason, of course. But I cannot, having done the entire film with her, let her go before the job is finished just to avoid having her visit our home. It is difficult to find a translator in Paris with good working knowledge of both Swedish and Russian.
25 January, Paris
I had a dream. I sort of landed in the middle of a nest of vipers and when I finally managed to get out, for a long time I couldn't free myself from the already dead harmless vipers which clung to my body.
I worked with Michal.
Bruno Reikhlin, the architect, arrived and showed us a terrible design for our house: 270 m. Totally unacceptable.
This is what one ought to be: like water. It knows no obstacles: it flows, a dam stops it, it breaks the dam and it flows again, it is rectangular in a rectangular vessel, round in a round one; water is stronger and more necessary than everything else. St. Basil the Great
31 January, Paris, hospital
[...] What to do if I live: Apocalypse or St. John? Hamlet, St. Anthony, Golgotha?Hamlet — that's too well-known and derivative. St. Anthony — intimate, again a journey into the deep. Gospel according to Steiner? Is it mine? And if it were mine? Would I manage? And what if not Gospel, only one episode from the Gospel? Is this too narrow? The only obvious thing is that if — God willing — I shall make another film, it would have to be as important as I could handle. I have made a promise to myself: no Hoffmanniana, perhaps St. Anthony. [...]
7 February, Paris, hospital
[...] In the evening Chris Marker brought the 16mm film from the welcoming of Andryushka and Anna Semyonovna. I look terrible, unnaturally suppressing emotion and for some unknown reason repeating over and over again: "But no, wait, where is the luggage?" Obviously I wasn't thinking about any luggage lost by Aeroflot. To think I behaved this way! Larissa was not much better either. She made speeches that sounded like toasts although nobody asked her. She laughed and she cried. But this was already at home. One cannot watch calmly the welcoming at the airport when Tyapa and Anna Semyonovna appear. This whole pain, suffering, despair, and fear that accummulated over six years was visible in her eyes. This could not be conveyed even by the greatest actress. This is the power of documentary cinema. Recording time of an action, like on a photograph.
On screen Andryushka looks so much like an adult, a beautiful youth — very calm and loving. Anna Semyonovna is splendid as always. She is composed and dignified, as if she never felt the presence of the camera. How much our appearances must have frightened them! For several long years we dreamt about meeting them and we couldn't even imagine it would all happen the way it did. I'm welcoming them ill, in bed, in a strange house. I'm indebted to Chris for making for us a film about perhaps the most important moment of my life. There are good bits in it. I think I could use them later in the documentary about me that we want to do with Franco Terilli.
Chris said Anatole Dauman had for us a three-roomed flat.
Without faith man is ready at any time to renounce everything in the name of which he lived and begin living in the name of everything he cursed.
14 February, Paris
Today is our dear Anna Semyonovna's birthday. Living with her one cannot but marvel at her patience, kindness, wisdom; she exudes peace and warmth of home. And like all good people she is completely undemanding. But then the art of being wise is to know what does not deserve our attention. [...] Many people came today with the congratulations. Alain Malraux was here as well. He said he had received an inquiry from Chirac regarding a home for us. How many family members, etc. ... That's a good sign.
15 February, Paris
Chris Marker was here this evening. He brought a gift from Dauman — a Walkman to listen to music. Chris says Dauman constantly inquires after my health, our sad situation, he is genuinely sympathetic and wants to help. And yet we know each other very little, we only kept contact regarding the film of which he is the distributor. Anna-Lena said he could be ruthless. But he allowed Chris Marker to set up a studio at his production company and provided him the means. Chris is a talented, interesting human being. I don't know how close he is to Dauman but there is something more exceptional, subtle, and extraordinary than talent. It is the ability to feel and appreciate talent. Not everybody possesses this ability after all.
I listened to Bach's St. Matthew Passion. Truly, music is the best solace for man in distress.
Krzysztof Zanussi arrived and Andryusha went with him to see the exhibit "Paris – Vienna" and a Fellini film.
16 February, Paris
We telephoned Moscow. I talked to Ola for a long time. She completely fell apart. She longs for us terribly. I was trying to console her as much as I could. I told her we were doing everything in our power to have her join us as soon as possible. Dakus also "spoke" and sang his favourite "forgotten – abandoned." God, when are we going to free ourselves from this prison at last! We have to diligently and immediately devote all our energies to free Ola. Everyone in Moscow knows about my illness already but still nobody telephones except two–three people, and nobody comes to visit. It's even better that way, I have thrown them out of my memory long ago. Strange, I have no feeling of loss and I feel no regret.
19 February, Paris
Léon was here. On Sunday I am probably going back to the clinic. Robert Bresson and Charles [H. de Brantes?] came to us for a visit, we had bliny. Bresson was charming, we had a very pleasant conversation. He promised to visit us again sometime. I was thinking of his brilliant films. I don't even know which one is the best: Balthazar, Mouchette, Diary of a Country Priest, Trial of Joan of Arc. In my opinion Journal d'un curé de campagne makes the greatest impression. Everything in his films happens out of itself, they have nothing to do with the kind of cinema termed "film production." His films from the forties and fifities are all the same, there are no differences between them. How magnificent Trial of Joan of Arc is — it's simply amazing! Joan comes out of the cellar, the camera pans — she walks, sits at the table, across sits a priest, the examining magistrate. A shot of her — a shot of him, a shot of her — a shot of him, she says something — he says something, next the interrogation is finished, she stands up and leaves. The end. The episode is over. The second one is the same. Episodes three and four are the same. Minimum tools and no extra meanings from juxtapositions of shots. These various little tricks are our invention. To make something look like a candy. Cinema's existence is not enough for them. They have to make something bigger out of it, something full of expression. Cinema is like poetry. They have to make superpoetry out of poetry. Pushkin is not enough, something different and new is required...
Bresson is a genius. Here I can state it plainly — he is a genius. If he occupies the first place, the next director occupies the tenth. This distance is very depressing.
No, a man who lacks culture will never create good cinema, never.
Sadness. I have a headache. Volodya Maximov telephoned. He claims Marina Vlady and Okudzhava cooperate with the KGB. He could be right. She knew the content of the letter from Lubimov's son, the letter confiscated at the border. Lubimov says he did not expect such a letter from his son, that his son is not like this. What does this mean? Before the control she read somebody else's letter. Or maybe there was no letter but there was a directive?
Michal telephoned. He is worried the work on the soundtrack is progressing too slowly. It is necessary to phone Dauman to let him know that if he wants to have the film in Cannes he should press Anna-Lena who does nothing to make sure we finish on time.
I haven't written anything lately. I'm at home, I'm feeling bad. The day before yesterday Sven and someone else from the lab proposed to review half of the film at our home. I refused, didn't feel well.
Andryusha drags Lara — a victim of overprotective upbringing — to a science-fiction film festival in Paris. They watch a whole load of this rubbish.
Saint Anthony was born on the 17th of January.
Maxim Shostakovich announced his visit yesterday but he didn't show up. Today we went for a walk around Paris for the first time. We ate breakfast on the terrace of some restaurant. It was a very nice spring day. I felt so warm in the sun as if it was summer already. We were in a holiday mood. It warmed the cockles of my heart. Perhaps it's my return to living? We walked for three long hours. I got tired — after all I haven't done any walking for two months.
Bruno is back — the architect — to propose his new plan to us. Not a good one — as usual. I gave him mine to work on. I worked with Christiana on the last chapter of the book. It should be published before the Cannes festival where The Sacrifice will be presented.
I viewed the edited version today. We have to change a lot. The cuts are terrible. I watched the print with Sven Nykvist. The print looks bad!
At home. Worked with Owe Svensson and Michal Leszczylowski on the edit plan. What kind of weather will they have? We had dinner with Krzysztof Zanussi and his wife.
Titles for a film: Stigmata, Martyrolog.
[...] Anna-Lena wants to take me to Cannes but I don't feel like it. I guess I'm not going. [...]
It's getting worse. More and more difficult to move around. Léon was here. On Monday I'm going back to the clinic for the last cycle of chemo- and radiotherapy. Afterwards it will be only chemistry which is a little easier to endure.
Anna-Lena keeps talking about Cannes. She has already rented a room for three, a bedroom and a living room.
I have finished reading Flaubert's The Temptation of St. Anthony. It's an exceptionally intellectual work, not very original, pompous. Seryozha Paradzhanov could make a great adaptation out of it. [...]
Akira Kurosawa who was here on his way to Los Angeles has sent a letter and flowers.
3 April, Paris, still at home
I feel unwell all the time. The Cannes festival is approaching and I don't know what to do. Viviane said Konchalovsky's film Runaway Train would be on the festival. Larissa wants to meet with Gilles Jacob and clear up everything: what films are being presented, who is on the jury, etc. ... This will help me make up my mind.
He who knows his death will not destroy him, is eternal.
5 April, at home, Paris
I viewed the latest print with Sven and listened to the edited sound. The sound is bad. Owe, the sound operator, is good for nothing and Michal is not that great either. I made some changes to improve the whole thing at least a little. If Michal rings up I must tell him:
1. deliver 300 krona to Sophia for the medicine,
2. take the passport photo,
3. set the night on the pause, introduce the sound of a passing motorcycle,
4. ask Sophia or Jure Lina how many times a day to drink the medicine.
6 April, Sarcelles
I'm going to the hospital today.
13 April, 17/10 rue Puvis-de-Chavannes
I moved from the hospital to Dauman's apartment. We can stay here until we receive the flat from Chirac. But even here it's cosy. That's thanks to Larissa. For the first time since our arrival in Paris I feel at peace. What's very important is that Anna Semyonovna and Andryushka do not feel like guests anymore, after so many years of waiting and pain at last they feel at home. God, was this the welcoming Lara and I were dreaming about? But what's most important is that we are together — this alone borders on miracle already. I also know that God won't allow anything bad to happen, I can feel a force inside me that helps me fight for my life.
How often I am at fault by not objectively judging people around me! My lack of patience towards them, or on the other hand too much trust, often lead to disappointments or unexpected "discoveries". Those whom I considered my close friends turned out to be a bunch of pitiful mediocrities. Instead of showing support for poor Anna Semyonovna — who was left alone with the children, bearing responsibility for Andryushka and the home, and who was left completely without any money (they had after all even taken away from us all means of sending money to our family thus condemning them practically to poverty) — they would run away in fear from Olga or Andryushka like from lepers whenever they bumped into them in the street. Only two–three people would telephone them from time to time or paid a visit. Had it not been for the help and effort of those met here, in the West, I don't know what would have happened to them. I can't stand and I don't understand those people, we talked to many of them so often after all, they knew that in my situation I had no choice. But they all couldn't care less that I had remained unemployed for seventeen years, with everything this situation implied, and that I had no means of realising my projects. There were also those who swore their friendship and later were happy to participate in campaigns organised against me. All those dinner table debates about the freedom of the individual, creativity, etc. ... All those clean dishonest clichés which are so characteristic of Russian nature, this lack of responsibility. It's impossible to describe it better than Dostoyevsky in Demons. A prophetic novel of genius. Perhaps it's even more relevant today than in Dostoyevsky's times. No man recognising his own worth would allow this kind of treatment forever. I have never regretted my decision. Not even the smallest shadow of a doubt has ever crossed my mind. I understood that according to my notion of what friendship is I had no friends, and there can be no friendship where there is no freedom. If anyone suffered because of my decision it was Lara and I, our family and our children. Together with the arrival of Andryushka and Anna Semyonovna the feeling one usually calls "nostalgia" has left me completely. It was probably caused by my longing for those dearest to me.
I think those who scream the loudest about freedom do not tolerate it too well themselves. Freedom means responsibility — that's why so many are afraid of it.
I knew neither Volodya Maximov nor Slava Rostropovich in Moscow. Yet as soon as they heard of our dreadful situation they immediately contacted us and offered their help. Volodya organised our press conference and came to Milan with Slava. They offered me a lot of support during that difficult period of my life, let alone all their help later. Volodya kept sending money against all difficulties to Moscow to Anna Semyonovna and this at the time was the most important thing. To this day I'm surrounded by their good will and true friendship and it helps me feel less lonely knowing there are people ready to extend a friendly hand at any time. In our current situation that's a lot.
Were there at least one letter, one telephone from my former friends. I don't expect anything from them, by the way. Romadin appeared here once, he telephoned. He had an exhibit in Paris. What could he be thinking, after he and Vita came to us, to our Moscow home (Gordon brought them — I asked Anna Semyonovna not to contact him) and he demanded one painting of his which he'd given me as a present fifteen years ago — for an exhibit, supposedly. But then he hasn't returned it. The painting's title was The Gift. Like I am going to meet him! I feel ashamed for him. I remember Misha when he was completely different but that was a long time ago. Afterwards he changed completely, he lost his stature somehow. Too bad! God be with them all! What's most important is living at peace with one's conscience.
14 April, rue Puvis-de-Chavannes
My chest has been hurting terribly for two days after the treatment at the hospital. Without delay I have to see Franco Terilli regarding my work. Or several projects to be exact. The first — a film "about myself" (I feel so ashamed), the second — a documentary on "life after life," the third — Hoffmanniana. Immediately!
Everything humanity has ever invented is selfish except works of art. Perhaps the meaning of human existence lies in creating works of art, in creative act, purposeless and unselfish one. It's possible us being created in God's image manifests itself through this act.
News. Bondarchuk is going to Cannes with Boris Godunov. He knows I'm also going to compete but is not afraid as if he already knew he'd get the prize. One simply doesn't know what to do.
Today at daybreak I heard a voice: "Andrei!" I answered "What?" — and woke up. Nobody was there. Lara bought a thermometer. At 4pm today I had a 39 degrees temperature, then half an hour later 39.5.
I'm staying in bed all the time. It looks like they are sending me to Bâle before the festival — a convalescent sanatorium in Switzerland — to rest and recover (if it's possible). How much does this cost? Lara's opinion is I must go regardless of the cost.
At 6pm, 34 rue [de] Pontoise — showing the film, I can invite eight (important) persons. Lara and I went to the show with Yablonsky who fell asleep surprising everyone somewhat. The film which she hadn't seen before in its final version made a deep impression on Lara. For a long time she couldn't calm down and she didn't sleep all night.
The film was shown to some advisors of Dauman's and to journalists. Supposedly everybody was simply delighted. Léon was there with Marina. The print isn't too good. I recorded some remarks for Michal on the dictaphone.
I was coughing all day today. Together with Léon and Lara I decided that if I go to Bâle, it will be after Cannes. Léon cried all day after the film. He decided to put me on the mend with chemotherapy before Cannes (injections).
30 April, rue Puvis-de-Chavannes
Cough. Larissa went with Tyapa to Florence. It is empty and sad around here now. A crazed Natan Fyodorovsky telephoned: he was robbed and then he was barely able to find our phone number in his notebook. Yesterday or the day before yesterday the news came out of a catastrophe at the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl in Ukraine. The reactor core is melting and the graphite is on fire. An evacuation of the whole region 70 kilometres north of Kiev. An enormous contaminated cloud moved north and yesterday passed over Norway and Sweden. The USSR has asked the FRG and Sweden for help. Andrei Yablonsky has just brought the news he heard on the BBC: near the first nuclear power plant another Soviet one is on fire. Dnepr is now completely contaminated.
2 May, at Dauman's home
[...] Lara and Andryushka telephoned. I miss them very much. Andryushka likes Florence a lot. He doesn't feel (as he put it) like leaving the home which made an unusually strong impression on him. [...] Florence and Italy in general feel close to his heart. I am very happy about that. Paris hasn't impressed him as much. [...] I was convinced Italy would impress him as it impressed me. It's amazing, his inner world is the same as mine. Six horrible years have not destroyed our spiritual bond; I have always felt it. [...]
[...] Léon and Marina came to supper today. I decided not to go to Cannes. Not only I'm in bad form, I feel very bad. I would just create a most undesirable impression.
Andryusha and Lara came back from Florence this morning. Andryusha is full of new impressions and he loves Roccalbegna. He would have been delighted to stay in Italy and not return to Paris. Lara has for the time being set aside the problems of the Florence home and everything else. Lucy is to go to Warsaw for one week. We have to immediately find someone who could live there during her absence. Under no circumstances can we leave the flat empty.
I cough all the time. I feel horrid. A conflict with Anna-Lena regarding the conditions for departure to Cannes. The state I'm in right now means I'm not going to the festival. Michal phoned in the morning. There was a great [TV?] programme yesterday in Stockholm about the film. The première is on the ninth.
I am in a bad way. I force myself to do some walking. I am not going to Cannes so as not to shock the journalists. Perhaps my appearance would be good for the film but my future work — if there is any — could suffer from it. [...]
Léon was here. He talked to Anna-Lena. On Tuesday we begin treatment again (at home this time — chemotherapy). Lara told me she had paid off all the bills and debts from the money she had in Florence and for the remaining sum she bought small gifts for Tyapus. He is very pleased.
Sven telephoned with congratulations about the Stockholm première. The film has been received very well, the press was also very good. Articles about prophecies on account of the nuclear catastrophe. Sven was indignant to learn the Film Institute did not send me congratulations after the première.
Today is the première of The Sacrifice in Cannes. Michal telephoned in the morning. He said at the show for film critics many audience members cried. As it turns out, Anna-Lena to this day has not paid a single penny of the outstanding sum.This is so mean!
Victor telephoned from Cannes and he also said the film was received well. What's important are the showings for general audience and for the jury, at 10pm. Michal will telephone tomorrow. Anne-Lena phoned but I did not tell her anything about the money. I was in no condition for it. I feel very weak, I'm to have a blood transfusion.
[...] Thirteen film critics from various countries have voted. Ten gave three stars, three gave two stars each. The maximum is three stars.
I'm waiting for Michal's phone call. I want to know how the general audience received the film yesterday evening.
I feel a little better. Telephones from Cannes all day long. Léon and Marina came to supper today. Anna-Lena phoned again and talked to him about me going to Cannes if there is a prize. He was unyielding.
Yesterday after supper I was very tired. Lara is also tired, she doesn't sleep well, thousands of things to do, problems. She is worried mostly on my account. We have to shape our lives somehow, send Andryusha to school, get Olga out. Although she is strong, Anna Semyonovna also frequently feels unwell. Naturally the biggest problem is that I feel very bad.
16 May, Friday
[...] My film is getting great reviews.
18 May, Sunday
Today Andryushka has flown off to Cannes with Mariana. If the film gets a prize he will receive it in my name. Larissa didn't agree, she didn't want to leave me alone. I think he was very nervous although he was trying not to show it. I told him that if I receive the prize he will have to speak in public and give interviews. He responded: "Dad, if you trust me I hope you won't have to feel ashamed." He didn't really feel like flying there — I heard him talking to Larissa. These are his first steps into adulthood, a terrible responsibility. We'll see...
19 May, Monday
Anna-Lena telephoned. Jury was not inclined too positively: four votes for our film, four against, three abstaining. The film has already received the FIPRESCI prize, the international journalists' prize, and the Ecumenical Jury prize.
It's evening, ten past six. The results will be announced after seven o'clock. For now we don't know anything. During the morning telephone call Anna-Lena sounded optimistic. Then I talked to her at about two. She said no decision was made yet.
So, no Palm, but a Special Jury Prize. They say the journalists and the critics are upset and are preparing a protest. We watched the giving away of the prizes on television. Andryushka received my prize, gave an interview, he looked very beautiful and dignified, he was applauded for a long time. He was not at all embarrassed. He behaved as if receiving prizes in Cannes was an everyday occurrence. Truly I did not expect such resourcefulness from him. My Tyapus has grown up. Today for the first time he appeared to me an independent, mature young man. [...]
Lots of newspaper articles. Everyone is upset with the Cannes jury decisions. Mitterand on TV has criticised the festival harshly. [...]
23 May, at home
Anatole Dauman paid us a visit on account of the Cannes prizes. He was — that was my impression — very saddened by the unjust, in his opinion, jury decision regarding The Sacrifice. They say the film which received the Golden Palm [The Mission, dir. Roland Joffé], made by a British director for American money, was not completely finished. How certain must one be of success to bring to a festival an unfinished film! Thus it was already known beforehand that the main prize — regardless of the circumstances — will go to this film. For me those who want to give their attention to my films are the greatest prize. Yes. Americans because of their money are gradually pulling the audiences away from auteur cinema.
We talked with Anatole Dauman about the problems of contemporary cinema. He is one of the few producers with a definite talent for understanding, feeling, and correct evaluation of the nature of cinema as such. It's no accident he worked with Bresson, Godard, Wenders, Colpi. Unfortunately not too many producers try to support auteur cinema nowadays. The majority perceives film not as art but as a chance to make money through transformation of the celluloid film into ordinary merchandise.
I was moved by him. I have come to know him well. He appears curt and cold but is in reality extraordinarily delicate, a little sentimental, sometimes even naive, and certainly a good man. Goodness is an inborn trait, one cannot acquire it. Either you have it or you don't. I am indebted to Anatole for his attitude and his help. His home, where we live right now, is in a house which previously belonged to his parents. With tenderness he told us about them and about his family history, he was very pleasant. [...]
7 September [Ansedonia]
[...] Franco Terilli came for a visit. We talked about dubbing The Sacrifice in Italian. He wants to come here with Ricardo Cuccuolla to select the voices for the overdubs. Ricardo will himself dub Erland. He is a wonderful actor and a fascinating human being. I can be assured of the quality of the Italian version. Franco is great. [...]
30 November [back in Paris]
Franco Terilli and Ricardo Cuccuolla have come to see me in Paris. They brought the Italian version of The Sacrifice. Chris Marker helped to set up the viewing, he brought the video equipment. The dub is magnificent, I am very happy with it. The voices are overlaid absolutely perfectly. Everything was done very professionally. Ricardo brought Italian gifts for us: a huge loaf of bread which he had specially ordered somewhere and a village basket filled with fruits. It all looked very rustic and so Italian. I was sorry to see them leave.
3 December, Paris
Anna-Lena telephoned today (!! ??). She said:
1. that she had set up a fund to help with Andryusha's education, which means that the USA, England, and Sweden are assuming all expenses;
2. USSR want to buy The Sacrifice and I have the rights. Now we have to decide the details of the transaction because the Soviets should not find out I own the rights.
This is simply unbelievable news. She will phone me again tomorrow. This is exactly Anna-Lena. [...]
6 December, Paris
For Pio (urgently): Joan of Arc. Phone Andryusha in Florence.
2. The last portion of Sculpting in Time. Urgent.
3. The letter to Japan. (Theses.) With Yablonsky.
4. The letter to Bill Pence and Stella.
5. Thank for the roses. Larissa.
6. As soon as possible find out for what amount my films are being sold (from Dauman?). Find out what it means to sell a print without original materials. Is it cheaper?
7. Franco. The fireplace in Florence.
8. Urgently the interior in San Gregorio and begin the construction.
9. Dry trees and firewood.
10. Anya's telephone bill.
11. Put the Opel in the garage.
12. Andryusha should obtain a driving licence.
13. Resolve the water problem in San Gregorio (the pool).
14. Letters of thanks: to Antonioni, Werner, Anna-Lena, Michal, Tommasi.
15. Prepare a document with attorneys to forbid publication of my manuscripts and fragments anywhere without an official permit. Perhaps we should stop the texts for "Figaro"?
16. Do not lose Carlo Tommasi (Austria). A very respectable man and of course a master.
17. Prepare exercises in film theory and theory of literature for Andryusha.