In Tarkovsky’s first film made outside the USSR, Russian expatriate Andrei (Oleg Yankovsky, THE MIRROR), wanders wintry Italian landscapes while returning in memory to his homeland. He becomes obsessed with the Botticelli-like beauty of his translator Eugenia (Domiziana Giordano), as well as with the apocalyptic ramblings of a self-destructive wanderer named Domenico (Erland Josephson, THE SACRIFICE). In one of cinema’s most agonizingly suspenseful sequences, the fate of the world is found hanging on a candle’s flight across a dry pool, culminating in an overwhelming final shot.
Written with Tonino Guerra, frequent collaborator of Michelangelo Antonioni (on every film from L’AVVENTURA through BLOW-UP), Federico Fellini (AMARCORD), and Francesco Rosi (ILLUSTRIOUS CORPSES, CHRIST STOPPED AT EBOLI), NOSTALGHIA is a mystical and mysterious collision of East and West, shot with the tactile beauty that only Tarkovsky could provide.
NOSTALGHIA won the Grand Prix du cinéma de creation prize for Best Director (shared with Robert Bresson for L’ARGENT) and the international film critics prize at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival. Soviet authorities prevented the film from winning the Palme d’Or, which hardened Tarkovsky’s resolve to never work in the Soviet Union again.