There’s an old rumour on the Internet that originates from one of Andrei Tarkovsky’s diary entries that tells of a horror film he once saw at the cinema whilst shooting Nostalghia in Italy.
Supposedly the film was Lucio Fulci’s epic Zombi2 and in his journal Tarkovsky wrote:
5 September, Rome:
… We saw Zombie II – science fiction horror film.
Ghastly; replusive trash.
(Time within Time : Diaries, 1970-86 Pub: Faber and Faber)
Well who am I to argue with the great Andrei Tarkovsky really?
But as I know my Tarkovsky just as well as my Fulci, I have a hunch that something isn’t quite right in that passage of text. I have a problem with the dates, as they don’t add up...
Fulci’s Zombi 2 was released in 1979, and Tarkovsky shot Nostalghia in 1983. In 1979 Tarkovsky was shooting the masterpiece STALKER, and in 1983 Fulci was up to his neck with the sci-fi peplum Conquest.
Unless there was a very unlikely Fulci retrospective going on at the time, it probably can’t have been Zombi 2 that Tarkovsky saw. Although there is a possibility that he may have seen the movie at a private screening, after all this was Tarkovsky making a movie in Italy, and I’m sure that he got what he wanted, but why on earth a Fulci movie?
We may never know, but instead I’m holding a theory that whilst in Rome location scouting for Nostalghia a year or two before production – he was a perfectionist, he did stuff like that - Tarkovsky attended a screening of Lucio Fulci’s E tu vivrai nel terrore – L’alidà 1981, better known as THE BEYOND!
Shocked by the images he saw in THE BEYOND Tarkovsky felt the need to exorcise the terrifying insight he had just gained, that this fantastic Italian movie was using the exact same images and symbolism to tell a similar tale as his STALKER. So he trashed the film in his journals and freeing himself of the underlying fear of Fulci’s impending rivalry focused on his own movie production instead.
But what evidence do I have for this extraordinary theory and conclusion? It’s simple, I’ll show you the themes and the images, and I’ll place the dots and let you connect them, as you too will feel a tremendous rush of insight as this all comes clear...
1. SEPIA TINTED OPENING.
2. RECURRENT DRIPPING AND FLOWING WATER
10. SUDDEN STORMS & THUNDER UNDERGROUND AS CLIMAX APPROACHES