8 Nov 2012

Tarkovsky archive for sale

8:13 am on 8 November 2012

An archive of letters, photographs and recordings once belonging to one of Russia's greatest film directors, will be offered for sale at Sotheby's in London later this month.

The Andrei Tarkovsky collection covers the last 20 years of the film maker's life and includes a draft of a letter to Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in the late 1970s urging him to lift a ban on screenings of Andrei Rublyev, made in 1966.

"No significant material relating to Andrei Tarkovsky has ever before appeared at auction, and it is unlikely that such an archive will appear again," said Stephen Roe, Sotheby's head of books and manuscripts, on Wednesday.

Tarkovsky is considered one of the greatest film directors of the 20th century.

Andrei Rublyev, a medieval epic based on the life of the Russian icon painter, was not screened publicly in the Soviet Union for several years after it first appeared at the Cannes film festival in 1969 because of its themes of religion and artistic freedom.

"... For three and a half years the film has been kept away from the screen," Tarkovsky wrote.

"Andrei Rublyev was not and could not have been used for any kind of anti-Soviet propaganda ... I do not have any opportunity to exercise my creative ideas. I was told that the issue is closely related to the fate of Andrei Rublyev."

He went on to describe the difficulties he faced in making a living to support his wife and child in a country that treated his films with deep suspicion.

"I do not feel comfortable talking about that, but my situation has been unchanged for so long that I cannot keep silence any longer," he added.

The next film he directed was "Solaris", a science fiction movie also considered a masterpiece by Western critics.

Eventually Tarkovsky left his native country spent the last four years of his life in exile.

Nostalghia (Nostalgia) was made in Italy and The Sacrifice in Sweden. The latter was his last movie.

Tarkovsky was diagnosed with cancer in 1985 and died the following year in Paris aged 54.

The collection is valued at £80,000 - £100,000 pounds. The auction will be held on 28 November.