03 February 2011

It is a bright, bright day

»An image is not some idea as expressed by the director, but an entire world reflected in a drop of water. In a single drop of water!«
(Andrej Arsenjevic Tarkovskij)

Andrej Arsenjevic Tarkovskij received his polaroid camera in the 1970s from Antonioni: another master of moving image and stills. From that moment on, Tarkovskij began documenting his intimate life set in his family dacha. What came out of it is a trove of frozen time-gems collected for his son (Andrej), who would only many decades later be able to take leave from the stills by allowing them published in 'Instant Light: Tarkovsky Polaroids' and in 'Bright, bright day'.
»It is not easy for me to talk dispassionately about the photographs in this book,« wrote Tarkovskij's son, »let alone discuss their historical or artistic merit. Each time I look at them, I feel these pictures have an amazing, unique, inner energy; I am drawn as by a magnet back into my past, into the forgotten, distant world of my childhood, which all of a sudden springs up vividly all around me.«

The father - Tarkovskij the filmmaker - kept a little trove of his own time-gems in 'a cardboard box that once held tins of food'.
»I go into the house,« he wrote, »this house where I used to live and which I grew out of like a teenager growing out of his clothes, the house in the road next to Arsenev Road, and I am convinced that it’s called by that name in honour of my father who lives two blocks away from Arsenev Road. Anyhow there’s no other explanation for the name, and I’m sure that if it weren’t for my father the road would be nameless.
Mother is not here, and I wait for her in the cramped rooms of my childhood, which will never be repeated and can only fade in my memory like embers in a dying fire. The house and its two rooms barely reach to my elbows and knees, the air is stuffy and there isn’t enough, there is very little left after those fifteen years of use.
I wait for Mother and soon she arrives. She has had a short holiday and is slightly tanned, and I am glad, because I want to see her young, even though I have never in my life done anything about it and have merely dreamed like an idiot of some miracle that might make my Mother young.
We open a cardboard box that once held tins of food, and I freeze over it, as if on the edge of a precipice: in it are time, my childhood, my Mother’s and Father’s youth. The box contains photographs.«

The father – the father of the filmmaker - was the famous Russian poet Arsenij Aleksandrovic Tarkovskij. Longing for his own childhood days, this is how he sculpted into words a particularly dear image from his own past:

By the jasmine lies a stone,
Beneath the stone lies treasure.
On the path stands father.
It is a bright, bright day.


  1. Beautiful post, photos and poem.

  2. Thank you: albeit I can't really take the credit for the photos and the poem...