The Russian poet Andrei Gorchakov, accompanied by guide and translator Eugenia, is traveling through Italy researching the life of an 18th-century Russian composer. In an ancient spa town, he meets the lunatic Domenico, who years earlier had imprisoned his own family in his house for seven years to save them from the evils of the world.
Seeing some deep truth in Domenico’s act, Andrei becomes drawn to him. In a series of dreams, the poet’s nostalgia for his homeland and his longing for his wife, his ambivalent feelings for Eugenia and Italy, and his sense of kinship with Domenico become intertwined.
Nostalghia (UK: Nostalgia) is a 1983 Soviet / Italian film, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky and starring Oleg Yankovskiy, Erland Josephson, Domiziana Giordano, Patrizia Terreno, Laura De Marchi, Delia Boccardo, Milena Vukotic, Raffaele Di Mario and Elena Magoia. Tarkovsky co-wrote the screenplay with Tonino Guerra.
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 When Mosfilm support was withdrawn, Tarkovsky used part of the budget provided by Italian State Television and French film company Gaumont to complete the film in Italy and cut some Russian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.
Several scenes of the film were set in the countryside of Tuscany and northern Lazio; as the Abbey of San Galgano, the spas of Bagno Vignoni, the Orcia Valley, in the Province of Siena, the mysterious crypt of Abbadia San Salvatore on the Mount Amiata and the drowned church of Santa Maria in San Vittorino of Cittaducale, in the Province of Rieti.
About the Story
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. He and his comely interpreter Eugenia travel to a convent in the Tuscan countryside, to look at frescoes by Piero della Francesca. Andrei decides at the last minute that he does not want to enter.
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 (Erland Josephson), 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. 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 after seven years. 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 uninterested 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 collapses.
Directed by: Andrei Tarkovsky
Starring: Oleg Yankovskiy, Erland Josephson, Domiziana Giordano, Patrizia Terreno, Laura De Marchi, Delia Boccardo, Milena Vukotic, Raffaele Di Mario, Elena Magoia
Screenplay by: Andrei Tarkovsky, Tonino Guerra
Production Design by: Andrea Crisanti
Cinematography by: Giuseppe Lanci
Film Editing by: Erminia Marani, Amedeo Salfa
Costume Design by: Lina Nerli Taviani
Set Decoration by: Mauro Passi
Distributed by: Grange Communications Inc.
Release Date: May 11, 1983