Still life

The great Russian film-maker Andrei Tarkovsky left behind a legacy of extraordinary visual poetry in his relatively short life. He was an auteur with a predilection for long, lingering takes, and his films are defined by an abundance of gently unfolding, fluid scenes that mesmerise with their ability to represent the emotional depth of any moment. Tarkovsky would have been 75 this year, had he not died of cancer in 1986, aged just 54. The commemorative Tarkovsky Festival reaches one apex this week with the re-release of his final film, The Sacrifice, but equally interesting is the surfacing of a collection of previously unseen Polaroid photographs, which prove his ability as a documentary photographer of extraordinary deftness. Shot in Russia and Italy, the photographs depict misty, sensual moments of Tarkovsky’s family life. The landscapes and characters he seeks are steeped in pastoral, romantic qualities, and the subsequent aesthetic resembles fine art painting. Photographer Stephen Gill, who made the selection for this book and exhibition, Bright, Bright Day, says that, ‘Going through the images for the selection in this book made me reflect yet again on a photograph’s extraordinary capacity to convey emotion and not just to depict. The images seem to dance between the reality, the very being of their subject and the photographer’s feeling for them.’ It’s a book of unusual visual resonance and photographic insight; a powerful inquiry into feeling.

Bright, Bright Day the book is available from, while the exhibition is at White Space Gallery, St Peter’s Church, Vere Street, London W1 until 20 January 2008. Tarkovsky’s film The Sacrifice is on limited re-release from 7 December

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