Iskusstvo Kino

Letters to the Zone

This 1990 article published in Iskusstvo Kino contains two letters written to Sergei Paradjanov when he was in prison. One letter is from Tarkovsky and the other one is from Vasily Katanyan. The Editor, Svetlana Shcherbatyuk, writes:

[This correspondence to Paradjanov] deserves to be published in full. Those of the letters which were particularly dear to him, Sergei would send to me asking me to save them. Amongst them there are wonderful letters from Lili Brik and Vasily Katanyan, Vasily Shukshin, Andrei Tarkovsky, Yuri Lubimov, Kira Muratova, Emil Lotyanu. [...] Together with [Iskusstvo Kino] we are preparing them for publication. In the meantime — two friendly messages to Sergei in the Zone.

A scan of the article is found below. We have translated the letter from Andrei Tarkovsky into English. References and acknowledgements: Iskusstvo Kino, no. 12, 1990. Thanks to Vlad Shamailov for his kind assistance. See also [ Tarkovsky visits Parajanov ].

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Photo: Sergei Paradjanov and Lilya Brik. Photo credit: V. Plotnikov.

18 October 1974

        Dear Seryozha!
        You are right — Vasya's death [Footnote: Vasily Shukshin died 2 October 1974 -Ed.] — it's a link in the chain which ties us all together. We all really miss you here, love you very much and, naturally, we are waiting.
        How is your health?
        Are you able to receive books?
        Write me (when you have a chance) if there is anything I could do for you now.
        Here in Moscow it's same old thing: my Mirror was not being approved for half a year. But now I hope they approve it, either today or tomorrow. I am extremely tired of this absurd bureaucratic pushing around. I am leaving to spend this winter in the countryside by the Oka [river].
        You understand — everyone in Moscow is stunned by your epic experience. It's strange how before we allow ourselves to take care of and love one another, we so typically wait for untold cataclysms to occur first. And here, in truth, "no prophet is accepted in his own country."
        The only thing I'm sure of is your heroism which is your salvation. After all, you are a very talented man (and that's not saying enough!) And talented people are strong.
        Let all that's best stay within your soul and lend you strength now.
        I am embracing you, dear friend!
        Larissa sends you her greetings and Gala Shibanova presents her compliments.

Your friend Andrei Tarkovsky

[Paradjanov's note to Ms. Shcherbatyuk on the reverse: 'I'm sending the letters and the photo I received. Save them. Please.']

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