"Promising Russian Movie Director is Kurosawa's Biggest Fan"
The following brief interview appeared in the 15 September 1963 issue of the Japanese
Weekly Sunday Mainichi. In this interview we are given some insight into which movie
directors the 31-year old Tarkovsky admired at the time. It is presented here, for
the first time in English, with the kind permission of the interviewer, YAMADA Kazuo.
It was translated for Nostalghia.com by SATO Kimitoshi, Japan.
The Art Theater chain recently screened Ivan's Childhood and
attracted the largest audience since its opening. The Art Theater
movement, which was stagnant for a while, has suddenly come
alive. This Soviet Russian movie was directed by the 31-year-old
director Andrei Tarkovsky. Mr. Kazuo YAMADA, movie critic, attended
the Moscow Movie Festival held from July 7 to 21, and there conducted
an intimate interview with Andrei Tarkovsky. He found the director as
new and intelligent as the movie itself, and Tarkovsky proved to be
the biggest fan of Kurosawa, our own great master director.
Please give me your biographical outline.
I was born at a village near the Volga, in April 1932. My father is a
poet. Finishing school, I idled away for four years, painting and
practicing the piano, and for a while I was dreaming of becoming an
orchestra conductor. Not knowing where I should go in life, I even
studied Arabic language, and took part in an academic expedition with
a group of Geographers [should be "Geologists". -Nostalghia.com].
And then a friend advised me to enter VGIK.
When did you decide to be a movie director?
It was when I joined Mihail Romm's class and saw Ivan the
Terrible by Eisenstein for the first time. I was truly
overwhelmed by the artistic power of the cinema.
What urged you to direct Ivan's Childhood?
I created The Steamroller and the Violin as my graduation
movie of the VGIK in 1960. Soon after graduating, I entered the
production group led by Grigory Alexandorov at the Mosfilm studio, and
a group people who had seen The Steamroller, recommended that
I should pick up the original book of Ivan's Childhood. I was
attracted by the story and finished the film in six months.
What is your message in this movie?
The terror and fear of war is not only the destruction and devastation
of houses and lands, nor loss of many human lives, but war also robs
children of their childhood. This is it. That is why I strived to
express tragedy by describing the inner world of a young boy. [To
my surprise, it was Tarkovsky who changed the theme, and
began to talk about Japanese cinema, and praise Kurosawa in
deep respect and heated enthusiasm. -Yamada] I was truly fascinated when I saw
Kurosawa's movies: The Idiot, Seven Samurai, Rashomon.
Kurosawa gave me a joyful surprise by showing his wonderful
comprehension of the characters of Ragojin and Muishukin in The
Idiot, and I found Seven Samurai very impressive because
it was a truly beautiful "people's movie," by making full use of
Japanese people's traditions. Because the most important problem for
the cinema artist is to create a "people's movie." [At this point, he
was the one who started questioning. He was quite inquisitive about
what Kurosawa was doing now, and after gathering information from me,
he even beseeched that I should give Kurosawa his heartfelt love and
Give me the names of the movie directors you respect outside
Soviet Russia, besides Kurosawa.
Luis Buñuel, Ingmar Bergman, Andrzej Munk. I
regret most of the French directors have lost French national
tradition, and I consider François Truffaut the best now.
Among my favorite directors are Luchino Visconti who directed
The Earth Will Tremble and Rocco And His Brothers,
John Ford who made Grapes of Wrath, and Orson Welles
who created Citizen Kane. But as for Grapes of
Wrath, I appreciate the original book better.
I hear that your next movie will be about The Passion of
Andrei which is to depict Rublov the 15th century painter.
Yes. I want to create it to shed light on the inner world of the
genius artist, and to investigate how deeply the creation of a great
artist is related to his time and people's life.