DVD Cover
Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
Written by Tonino Guerra
Andrei Tarkovsky
Starring Oleg Yankovsky
Erland Josephson
Domiziana Giordano
Cinematography Giuseppe Lanci
Release date(s) France:
May 1983
Running time 125 minutes
Country Soviet Union
Language Russian / Italian

Nostalghia (Russian: Ностальгия) is a 1983 Soviet film, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky and starring Oleg Yankovsky, Domiziana Giordano and Erland Josephson.

The plot of the film centers around the meaning of the term nostalgia, which describes a longing for the past, often in idealized form.



The opening scene is a single shot showing a family and their dog descending a hill, a large tree in the foreground, the distant countryside vanishing into the rolling fog. The camera pushes in imperceptibly, but continuously from the beginning. On the soundtrack, possibly diegetic, a sole woman sings. Meanwhile, the film credits scroll up, superimposed over the scene. The family and dog, upon reaching the area in front of a hut, stop moving. Verdi's Messa da Requiem fades in, overlapping for a brief moment with the woman singing. Once the foreground tree fully disappears, the scene freezes; the credits continue until the title appears, and the scene fades to black. The Requiem continues an audible transition to the second scene.

The Russian writer Andrei Gorchakov (Oleg Yankovsky) travels to Italy to research the life of 18th-century Russian composer Pavel Sosnovsky, who lived there and committed suicide after his return to Russia. He and his comely interpreter travel to a convent in the middle of the Tuscan countryside where they look at frescoes by Piero della Francesca. Back at their hotel Andrei feels displaced and longs to go back to Russia, but unnamed circumstances seem to get in the way. The interpreter is smitten with Andrei and is offended that he will not sleep with her, claiming that she has a better boyfriend waiting for her.

Andrei meets and befriends a strange mad man, who is famous in the village for his insistence in trying to walk across a drained mineral spring pool with a lit candle. He claims that when finally achieving it, he will save the world. They both share a feeling of alienation from their surroundings. The madman says, while playing Beethoven's 9th Symphony, that mathematics are wrong, that 1+1 does not equal 2 but a bigger 1, and illustrates it with two drops of olive oil. Andrei later learns that this man used to live in a lunatic asylum until the post-fascist state closed them and now lives in the street. He also learns that this man had a family and was obsessed in keeping them inside his house to save them from the end of times until they were freed by the police.

During an abstract dream-like sequence, Andrei sees himself as the madman and has visions of his wife, the interpreter and the Madonna as being all one and the same. Andrei seems to cut his research short and plans to leave for Russia, until he gets a call from his interpreter who wishes to say goodbye and tell him that she met the madman in Rome by chance and that he wanted Andrei to walk across the pool himself. The interpreter is with her boyfriend, but he seems equally uninterested in her and appears to be involved in dubious business affairs. Andrei goes to the drained pool. His attempt to walk from one side of the pool to the other proves more difficult than he imagines. It remains unclear if the fumes, his poor heart condition or both impede him from achieving his task. Meanwhile, the madman is giving a speech in the city about the need of mankind of being true brothers and sisters and to stop polluting the water. He plays Beethoven's 9th Symphony and sets himself on fire. During this time Andrei has been unsuccessful in crossing over the pond. When he finally achieves it, he dies.

The closing sequence is a close up of Andrei sitting with his dog in the countryside of the opening scene. As the camera slowly pulls out, the hut and his family are shown to be inside the ruins of an Italian church.



This was Andrei Tarkovsky's first film directed outside of the USSR. It was supposed to be filmed in Italy with the support of Mosfilm, with most of the dialogue in Italian. When Mosfilm support was withdrawn, Tarkovsky used part of the budget provided by Italian State Television and French film company Gaumont to complete the film in Italy and cut some Russian scenes from the screenplay, while recreating Russian locations for other scenes in Italy.


The film won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, the prize for best director and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival.[1] Tarkovsky also shared a special prize called Grand Prix du cinéma de creation with Robert Bresson. Soviet authorities prevented the film from winning the Palme d'Or,[2] a fact that hardened Tarkovsky's resolve to never work in the Soviet Union again.


The film features music by Claude Debussy, Richard Wagner, Ludwig van Beethoven, Giuseppe Verdi as well as Russian folk songs. Beethoven's ninth symphony features most prominently.


External links

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