Layla Alexander-Garrett on Tarkovsky, Nathan Dunne (ed.), Black Dog Publishing, 2008

Handle with Care!

We have received a few letters to newsdesk pointing out a number of technical inaccuracies in the otherwise wonderful Tarkovsky, Nathan Dunne (ed.), Black Dog Publishing (ISBN 9781906155-04-9). We reproduce one of these letters below, as it summarizes some of the main concerns brought forth. (As for the Flaubert comment, it may be argued that Nathan actually says what Layla says: that Tarkovsky used Christian sources and then went to the novel — combining both for his idea of Saint Anthony. -Ed.)

The recent book Tarkovsky, edited by Nathan Dunne (Black Dog Publishing), with its beautifully produced collection of illuminating essays, is unfortunately teaming with easily avoidable mistakes.

All Tarkovsky's films made in the Soviet Union had only one producer — Goskino, which he repeatedly mentions in all his talks and interviews. For some reason Mr. Dunne assigns the role of producer to people who had completely different functions.

Here is a list of just some of the mistakes which cry out for correction:

Page 8: in a paragraph, where KGB agents "had followed Tarkovsky and Tonono Guerra while they were making Tempo di viaggio, in case the director professed any dissenting remarks about president Konstantin Chernenko," it is important to remind both the KGB agents and Mr. Dunne that the documentary was made in 1983 and Chernenko came to power in April 1984.

Page 12: The Steamroller and the Violin.
Camera — Vadim Yusov! (not B Pluzhnikov and V Sevostyanov as Mr. Dunne writes)

Page 12: Ivan's Childhood.
Script — M Papava and V Bogomolov (not E Smirnov as Mr. Dunne claims)

Page 18: Solaris.
Camera — Vadim Yusov! (not E Shvedov)

Page 20: Mirror.
Camera — Georgy Rerberg! (not A Nikolaev and I Shtanko)

Page 22: Stalker.
Camera — Aleksandr Knyazhinsky! (not N Fudim and S Naugolnikh)

Page 26: Nostalgia.
Camera — Giuseppe Lanci! (not Giuseppe De Biasi)

Page 28: The Sacrifice.
Camera — Sven Nykvist! (Lars Karlsson and Dan Myhrman — they were his assistants)
Sound — Owe Svensson and Bosse Persson (the rest — assistants)
Producer — Anna-Lena Wibom (not Katinka Farago and Goran Lindberg)
I worked on Tarkovsky's last film and can confirm it.

Page 265: a still from The Sacrifice reads as "a close-up of Julia...". The name of the character is not Julia, but Marta.

Page 232: in the paragraph Tarkovsky and Flaubert: The Sacrifice and Saint Anthony, Mr. Dunne writes: "... one of the possible reasons Tarkovsky did not pursue the project (the director's desire to make a film on St Anthony - author) was due to the fact that aspects of the novel were already embedded within The Sacrifice. Firstly, Tarkovsky was studying the old Christian sources on St Anthony, not Flaubert's novel. Secondly Tarkovsky became fatally ill after filming The Sacrifice and couldn't have pursued any project at all!

Tarkovsky cannot answer for himself but there are his relatives, like Marina Tarkovskaya, who generously provides information about her brother, as she did for this book. There are also his colleagues in Moscow, Italy, Sweden, England, who can share light on his work and life. I appeal to all writers to be more attentive to these important details. The danger of such "little mistakes" is that they, like a virus, will be duplicated.

Meanwhile I hope that the book can be corrected.

                                                                                              Layla Alexander-Garrett
                                                                                              London, 2008-05-12  end block

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