Andrei Tarkovsky's diary published in Russian for the first time
The diary Martyrolog has been published in Russian only in
February 2008, almost 20 years after its first appearance
in German in 1989. According to its editors the delay was caused
by the desire to produce a most complete, properly researched
and illustrated edition, which was not possible until the Tarkovsky
archive was catalogued and collected in Florence.
The edition was published in
Italy in the series "Stalker" edited by Andrei A. Tarkovsky
and Andrea Ulivi from
Edizioni della Meridiana. Future volumes in the series are said to include
Tarkovsky's work diaries for Mirror and Stalker.
Bibliographical information for this edition is available
It took a long time for Andrei Tarkovsky's diary
to be published in the original Russian. For almost
20 years it was only available in translations: German, Japanese, Polish,
Italian, Czech, French, English... Several reasons were given in the past,
such as the desire to produce a "definitive" and "complete"
edition which would include all the drawings and photographs.
Another reason for the delay was the funding. The fact that
the diary refers in unflattering terms to some people who are alive and well
in Russia today may have also contributed to certain caution but this is purely
our speculation (in other words, don't quote us on that).
The book is indeed beautifully made and the high quality of the
reproduced drawings and photographs is immediately noticeable.
Perhaps its only technical blemish is the presence of a loose errata sheet.
Visitors to this web site are probably aware of the various differences
between editions. In fact, the main reason for our interest
in the Russian edition was to see:
The first question can be answered quickly, at least as far as
the diary entries on this web site are concerned:
very few changes are needed. The discrepancies
mostly stem from other editions relying on typescript
copies rather than the manuscript. If any changes are made, we'll set up
a page listing them and drop a note on our News page.
- how accurate (or not) were the foreign editions?
- are we going to see the mysterious
between them resolved? Or,
if not resolved, at least commented upon in an editorial note
describing the physical state of the
The second item on the other hand leads to a certain
disappointment. The larger discrepancies between editions are neither resolved
nor explained. In fact, the shortest review of the Russian edition
of Martyrolog could read as follows:
the text is almost exactly the same as that of the French
"édition définitive" except:
There is no editorial note describing the criteria used to exclude those
fragments, however. Indeed, the "<...>" signs are not mentioned
in the book's preface at all, they just are.
In several instances we were able to find out what was "behind" them by
comparing other editions, and while some of the redacted
portions may appear sensible for a publication in Russia today from a
practical or legal point of view
(e.g. Tarkovsky's comments on someone's drug addiction or homosexuality,
etc.), most of the others seem a bit odd. More on that below.
- it does mark fragments
the editor chose not to include with the "<...>" sign,
- it omits one very long and interesting diary entry dated
13 February 1986 (only the first two sentences are in the Russian edition).
The fact that this edition is so close to the recent French one allows
us to begin the more detailed review by first referring to another
on this site in which we examined the French edition.
The points raised there remain valid for the Russian edition
except for the addition of the "<...>" sign.
Thus the absence e.g. of any notes covering
in any detail
remains very noticeable when comparing to the Polish edition.
(These entries are absent, for example:
Perhaps the editors concluded that these fragments
did not belong to the diary proper. Unfortunately, there is no description
of the physical state of the manuscript (were those fragments loose leafs
or perhaps separate sheets glued in?)
so it's difficult to judge. Compounding this little mystery
are two scenes in Michal Leszczylowski's documentary
Regi Andrej Tarkovskij in which Larissa Tarkovskaya reads,
directly from the diary, two entries:
28 June 1983
and 11 August 1983.
Neither of those entries are found in this edition. Let's hope these
fragments will be published in the forthcoming volumes
of the "Stalker" series inaugurated by Martyrolog.
At this point it's probably best to give several examples of the textual
variations. Let's begin with the entry for
28/29 January 1985 with the portion not present in the Russian edition
highlighted in yellow. An instance of text variation is also present
in this fragment which we highlight in green (Polish edition) and
the corresponding Russian substitution in blue. These variations are most likely
due to small mistakes made during preparation of typescript copies in the '90s
which were the basis of the Polish edition.
28/29 January, night, Berlin
An entry for 28 September 1985 (marked with "<...>" in the Russian):
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
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 They are
going there tomorrow to file the application. If this works out then
Dakus will be brought here by Maximilian, he suggested it himself.
28 September, Switzerland, on the way from Sweden to Florence
And another example, 10 November 1985:
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
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'm tired. I cannot go on like this without Andryusha
any more. I have no will to live.
One just doesn't want to keep going.
10 November, Stockholm
There are more examples of similar differences in cases where Tarkovsky
makes positive comments about his wife. It's a bit mysterious to us why
they are omitted. The following examples are typical:
I had a wonderful horrible 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.
Larissa was busy furnishing the home. She was tired but very excited.
And I couldn't even help her with anything because of the lack of time.
The furniture she bought is simply magnificent.
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
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.
— the opera critic I mentioned
In Florence I've made the acquaintance of
a friend of Franco Terilli's — Benedetto Benedetti — an opera
critic who is truly out of his mind. He wants to buy Godunov
from the Covent Garden — the costumes, the sets, and the services
of Stephen [Lawless], the assistant, and move the opera to Italy.
15 May 
One omitted portion written in Paris contains this important remark:
I'm feeling better.
They keep calling us from Cannes all the time. We had a supper
tonight with Léon and Marina.
Anna-Lena telephoned again
and talked to him (Léon) about my trip to Cannes in case of a
prize. He was unyielding.
Yesterday after supper
I felt very tired.
Lara is also tired, has difficulty falling
asleep, thousands of problems and complications. She is upset, mostly on
my account. We have to get our lives in order somehow, send Andryusha
to school, get Olga out. Anna Semyonovna is strong but she also feels
unwell. Of course the biggest problem is that I'm in a very bad shape.
16 May, Friday
One must admit Larissa
can create a cosy, warm home atmosphere. She's been doing it for over
twenty years now with hardly enough means. I have no idea where she gets
her energy and stamina. I cannot imagine her being any different.
I feel sorry for her. Of course she got so exhausted, poor thing, and
what's really terrible — it's not only the physical exhaustion
but an emotional as well with all the helath consequences. My dear
poor one! I could not manage without her, especially now when I'm so ill.
Without her everything would have been over already.
They couldn't get the
blood transfusion right today: they pricked both hands in vain:
it could be done just once —
it was a defective drip. Bravo, nurse!
It was Larissa who noticed this.
The film is getting
very good reviews.
Yesterday Larissa was in a state of hysteria.
Again. Mum, Tosya, the problems. Anna Semyonovna doesn't even look at me.
Larissa did everything she could to turn her against me.
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.
This comes from the entry dated
13 April 1986.
In the Russian edition this entry contains only the opening remarks:
"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."
Needless to say, there are numerous examples in reverse: portions present
in the Russian (and French) edition which are absent in other editions.
Here we point again to our previous
comparison for more
details, including a list of differences keyed by dates.
To sum it up, our impression is that anyone interested in a
proper critical edition of the diaries must wait a little longer.
The editors limited their role
mostly to careful rereading of the manuscript and making decisions
regarding the omitted portions. The lack of index makes it harder
to follow the text sometimes.
We still highly recommend this edition. Not only does it present Tarkovsky's
thoughts in his own voice so to speak but it also includes all the
drawings from the diaries. It should be noted that the careful presentation of the original text
allowed this reviewer to quickly find a couple of intriguing items not
apparent in the translated versions:
All in all, despite certain scholarly shortcomings,
an impressive way to open the new "Stalker" series which
we hope will soon continue with Tarkovsky's work diaries from his film
and stage productions.
- The mysterious phrase (in Polish and French editions) from
5 April 1986:
set the night on the pause, introduce the sound of a passing motorcycle,
...reads in the Russian as follows:
put on the pause (Night) the sound of a passing motorcycle,
We wonder if Tarkovsky refers here to Antonioni's Notte? Watching both
films again could be interesting.
- 20 April 1980 contains a reference to Two Saw the Fox which was
one of the titles originally
considered for what eventually became The Sacrifice.
In the Russian this reference is phrased as:
Two (Both) Saw the Fox.