Russian poet Andrei Gorchakov (Yankovsky) travels around Italy with his attractive interpreter Eugenia (Giordano), researching the life of an obscure 18th century composer. They visit churches and observe religious rituals but Andrei is distant, haunted by dreamlike images of his homeland and family. In a spa town, they meet Domenico (Josephson), an outsider who has lost his entire family. Andrei senses a kinship with this lonely man, and the two form a spiritual bond that we sense could end in tragedy.
Tarkovsky’s first film directed outside of the Soviet Union is also his first in a language other than Russian and he collaborated with “L’Avventura” screenwriter Tonino Guerra on the lyrical script. Plumbing deeply personal themes of alienation and longing for home, “Nostalghia” stands as one of Tarkovsky’s most autobiographical works, with the reflective Yankovsky standing in for the director. Cinematographer Giuseppe Lanci depicts Italy and her ruins with a stark beauty, the sepia tones of the present contrasting with the black and white of Andrei’s memories. Winner of three prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, Tarkovsky’s painterly, elegiac images coalesce into an indelible work of cinematic art.