Andrei Tarkovsky Creates a List of His 10 Favorite Films (1972)


If you, as a film­go­er, have any­thing in com­mon with me — and if you hap­pen to live in Los Ange­les as well — you’ve spent the past few weeks excit­ed about the Andrei Tarkovsky dou­ble-bill com­ing up at the Quentin Taran­ti­no-owned New Bev­er­ly Cin­e­ma. We’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured the famous­ly (and extreme­ly) cinephilic Taran­ti­no’s lists of favorite films, but what about Tarkovsky? What movies did the man who made The Mir­ror and Nos­tal­ghia — to name only two of his most strik­ing­ly per­son­al films, not to men­tion the same ones com­ing up at the New Bev­er­ly  look to for inspi­ra­tion? has one set of answers in the form of a list Tarkovsky once gave film crit­ic Leonid Kozlov. “I remem­ber that wet, grey day in April 1972 very well,” writes Kozlov in a Sight and Sound arti­cle re-post­ed there. “We were sit­ting by an open win­dow and talk­ing about var­i­ous things when the con­ver­sa­tion turned to Otar Ioselian­i’s film Once Upon a Time There Lived a Singing Black­bird.”

Tarkovsky strug­gled toward an assess­ment of that pic­ture, even­tu­al­ly deem­ing it “a very good film.” Kozlov then asked the film­mak­er to draw up a list of his favorites. “He took my propo­si­tion very seri­ous­ly and for a few min­utes sat deep in thought with his head bent over a piece of paper,” the crit­ic recalls. “Then he began to write down a list of direc­tors’ names — Buñuel, Mizoguchi, Bergman, Bres­son, Kuro­sawa, Anto­nioni, Vigo. One more, Drey­er, fol­lowed after a pause. Next he made a list of films and put them care­ful­ly in a num­bered order. The list, it seemed, was ready, but sud­den­ly and unex­pect­ed­ly Tarkovsky added anoth­er title — City Lights.” The fruit of his inter­nal delib­er­a­tions reads as fol­lows:

  1. Diary of a Coun­try Priest (Robert Bres­son, 1951)
  2. Win­ter Light (Ing­mar Bergman, 1963)
  3. Nazarin (Luis Buñuel, 1959)
  4. Wild Straw­ber­ries (Ing­mar Bergman, 1957)
  5. City Lights (Char­lie Chap­lin, 1931)
  6. Uget­su Mono­gatari (Ken­ji Mizoguchi, 1953)
  7. Sev­en Samu­rai (Aki­ra Kuro­sawa, 1954)
  8. Per­sona (Ing­mar Bergman, 1966)
  9. Mouchette (Robert Bres­son, 1967)
  10. Woman of the Dunes (Hiroshi Teshi­ga­hara, 1964)

Among respect­ed direc­tors’ great­est-films lists, Tarkovsky’s must rank as, while cer­tain­ly one of the most con­sid­ered, also one of the least diverse. “With the excep­tion of City Lights,” Kozlov notes, “it does not con­tain a sin­gle silent film or any from the 30s or 40s. The rea­son for this is sim­ply that Tarkovsky saw the cin­e­ma’s first 50 years as a pre­lude to what he con­sid­ered to be real film-mak­ing.” And the lack of Sovi­et films “is per­haps indica­tive of the fact that he saw real film-mak­ing as some­thing that went on else­where.” Over­all, we have here “not only a list of Tarkovsky’s favorite films, but equal­ly one of his favorite direc­tors,” espe­cial­ly Ing­mar Bergman, who places no few­er than three times. The esteem went both ways; you may remem­ber how Bergman once described Tarkovsky as “the great­est of them all.” Still, as cin­e­mat­ic mutu­al appre­ci­a­tion soci­eties go, I sup­pose you could­n’t ask for two more qual­i­fied mem­bers.

If you can’t make it to the New Bev­er­ly Cin­e­ma, you can watch many of Tarkovsky’s major films (and ear­ly stu­dent films) online here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Ing­mar Bergman Eval­u­ates His Fel­low Film­mak­ers — The “Affect­ed” Godard, “Infan­tile” Hitch­cock & Sub­lime Tarkovsky

Quentin Taran­ti­no Lists the 12 Great­est Films of All Time: From Taxi Dri­ver to The Bad News Bears

Quentin Taran­ti­no Lists His Favorite Films Since 1992

Woody Allen Lists the Great­est Films of All Time: Includes Clas­sics by Bergman, Truf­faut & Felli­ni

Mar­tin Scors­ese Reveals His 12 Favorite Movies (and Writes a New Essay on Film Preser­va­tion)

Stan­ley Kubrick’s List of Top 10 Films (The First and Only List He Ever Cre­at­ed)

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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