Ingmar Bergman once called Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky the greatest director ever, but because much of his work was banned in the USSR, he has not reached the widespread acclaim many think he deserved. That’s why a recently unearthed archive of photographs, recordings, and thousands of manuscripts offers a rare view into Tarkovsky’s personal and professional life. The trove is being offered at Sotheby’s London on November 28 as part of its “Music, Continental and Russian Books and Manuscripts” sale.
“The importance of this archive cannot be overstated,” said Stephen Roe, Sotheby’s head of books and manuscripts commented, in a statement. “No significant material relating to Andrei Tarkovsky has ever before appeared at auction, and it is unlikely that such an archive will appear again.” The material, which contains material dating from 1967-1986, illuminates “the private story of a director who helped revolutionize the history of cinema and was lauded by many of the world’s greatest filmmakers.”
The archive includes the play-by-play director’s books for the films “Solaris,” “White, White Day,” and “Stalker” — thought to be the only copies in existence. There’s also a letter from Tarkovsky to then president Leonid Brezhnev defending his right to work in the USSR and to have the ban on his films lifted. Unfortunately, he died in 1986 before ever returning to his homeland.
— Rachel Corbett