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

Nostalghia[1] is a 1983 Soviet/Italian film, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky and starring Oleg Yankovsky, Domiziana Giordano and Erland Josephson. Tarkovsky co-wrote the screenplay with Tonino Guerra.


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 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 (modeled on Ukrainian composer Maksym Berezovsky). He and his comely interpreter Eugenia 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. Eugenia 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 man named Domenico, who is famous in the village for trying to cross through the waters of a mineral 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. Domenico says, while playing Beethoven's Ninth 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. (This is a reference to one of Guerra's collaborations with Michelangelo Antonioni, Red Desert.) Andrei later learns that Domenico used to live in a lunatic asylum until the post-fascistic state closed them and now lives in the street. He also learns that Domenico had a family and was obsessed in keeping them inside his house in order to save them from the end of the world, until they were freed by the local police. Before leaving, Domenico gives Andrei his candle and asks him if he will cross the waters for him with the flame.

During a dream-like sequence, Andrei sees himself as Domenico and has visions of his wife, Eugenia 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 Eugenia, who wishes to say goodbye and tell him that she met Domenico in Rome by chance and that he asked if Andrei has walked across the pool himself as he promised. Andrei says he has, although that is not true. Eugenia is with her boyfriend, but he seems disinterested in her and appears to be involved in dubious business affairs. Later, Domenico delivers a speech in the city about the need of mankind of being true brothers and sisters and to return to a simpler way of life. Finally, he plays the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth and immolates himself. Meanwhile, Andrei returns to the mineral pool to fulfill his promise, only to find that the pool has been drained. He enters the empty pool and repeatedly attempts to walk from one end to the other without letting the candle extinguish. As he finally achieves his goal, he dies.

The closing image begins as a medium shot of Andrei sitting with his dog in the Russian countryside of the opening scene. As the camera slowly pulls out, the hut and his family are shown to be within the ruins of an enormous Italian church.



This was Andrei Tarkovsky's first film directed outside of the U.S.S.R. It was 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 script, 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.[2] 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,[3] a fact that hardened Tarkovsky's resolve to never work in the Soviet Union again.


The film features music by Ludwig van Beethoven and Giuseppe Verdi (Requiem), as well as Russian folk songs. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony features most prominently.


  1. ^ Nostalghia is an Italian transcription of the Russian word Ностальгия [nəstɐlʲˈɡʲijə], rather than the Italian nostalgia [nostalˈdʒiːa].
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Nostalghia". Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  3. ^ Wagstaff, Peter (2004). Border crossings: mapping identities in modern Europe. Peter Lang. p. 169. ISBN 978-3-03910-279-2. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 

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