Nostalghia (1983)

Brief Intro

🕊️ Nostalghia is a visually stunning, deeply philosophical film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1983. The movie follows Andrei Gorchakov, a Russian poet, who travels to Italy to research the life of an 18th-century composer. As he traverses the beautiful, melancholic Italian countryside, he grapples with existential questions, cultural displacement, and profound nostalgia.

Literary Devices Used in Nostalghia


Movie SceneDevice Example
Candle lighting ritual in the tunnelThe candle represents faith and perseverance.
The abandoned pool sceneThe pool symbolizes spiritual and emotional cleansing.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Andrei carrying the candle across the poolThe journey symbolizes life’s struggles and hope.
The dilapidated buildingsRepresent the decay of spiritual and cultural values.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Domenico’s speech to the crowdRepresents humanity’s collective plight and yearning for change.
Andrei’s vision of his family in RussiaAn allegory for the emotional distance and longing for home.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Andrei’s search for meaning in ItalyIronically, he finds more confusion and despair.
Domenico’s madness contrasted with wisdomDomenico is perceived as mad, yet he speaks profound truths.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Repeated water imageryWater as a motif for purification and renewal.
Recurring presence of ruinsMotif of decay and the passage of time.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Rural Italian landscape vs. urban decayHighlights the contrast between nature and human influence.
Andrei’s visions vs. realityJuxtaposes internal and external struggles.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Domenico’s warnings about the end of the worldForeshadows the impending personal and existential crises.
Andrei’s recurring dreamsHint at his eventual fate and enlightenment.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Opening scene in the misty countrysideEvokes a sense of mystery and isolation.
Andrei’s dream sequencesRich, surreal imagery that conveys his inner turmoil.

Symbolic Colors

Movie SceneDevice Example
Use of grey and muted tonesSymbolize desolation and nostalgia.
Red hues in Domenico’s scenesIndicate passion and madness.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Andrei’s memories of his familyFlashbacks reveal his emotional backstory.
Visions of the Russian countrysideIllustrate his longing and cultural dislocation.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Character Studies

Andrei Gorchakov

SymbolismAndrei’s candle lighting ritual symbolizes his search for meaning and spiritual illumination.
FlashbackFlashbacks to his family in Russia reveal his deep-seated nostalgia and emotional burden.


IronyDomenico is seen as mad, but his actions and words carry profound wisdom and truth.
AllegoryHis character serves as an allegory for the misunderstood visionary, fighting against societal norms.


JuxtapositionHer modern, pragmatic outlook contrasts with Andrei’s introspective and nostalgic nature, highlighting their different worldviews.
MetaphorHer relationship with Andrei can be seen as a metaphor for the clash between modernity and tradition, rationality and emotion.

Character Dynamics

Andrei and Domenico

  • Irony: Their interactions reveal the irony of wisdom in madness and sanity in perceived insanity. Their relationship drives the narrative, emphasizing themes of existential search and spiritual awakening.
  • Juxtaposition: The contrasting backgrounds and philosophies of Andrei and Domenico underscore the film’s exploration of intellectual and spiritual dilemmas.

Andrei and Eugenia

  • Juxtaposition: Their dynamic explores the tension between the intellectual/spiritual and the practical/earthly, deepening the thematic content of the film.
  • Metaphor: Their interactions metaphorically represent the struggle between different aspects of Andrei’s identity and values.

Thematic Analysis

Cultural Dislocation

SymbolismThe recurring imagery of ruins symbolizes Andrei’s sense of cultural and spiritual decay away from home.
FlashbackAndrei’s flashbacks to Russia highlight his sense of dislocation and yearning for his homeland.

Existential Search

MetaphorAndrei’s journey with the candle is a metaphor for his existential quest and struggle.
AllegoryDomenico’s character represents the universal search for meaning in a seemingly indifferent world.


ImageryThe film’s persistent use of desolate landscapes and empty spaces visually conveys a sense of isolation.
Symbolic ColorsThe use of grey and muted tones throughout the film enhances the feeling of emotional and physical isolation.

Faith and Perseverance

SymbolismThe candle in the tunnel scene symbolizes unwavering faith and the struggle to keep it alive despite adversities.
ForeshadowingDomenico’s warnings and actions foreshadow the need for faith and perseverance in the face of existential despair.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
SymbolismVisual symbolismThe recurring candle imagery is enhanced by the careful framing and lighting in key scenes.
ImageryCinematographyUse of long takes and natural light to create powerful, haunting visual images.
MetaphorSound designThe subtle use of sound contrasts (silence vs. noise) to underscore metaphorical elements.
AllegorySet designThe decayed, historical settings enhance the allegorical elements of cultural decay.
IronyJuxtaposition of scenesEditing choices that juxtapose Andrei’s serene dreams with his troubled waking moments.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene 1: Candle Lighting in the Tunnel

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  • Literary Device: Symbolism
  • Cinematic Techniques: Long take, natural light, close-ups
  • Explanation: This scene encapsulates Andrei’s struggle and determination. The long take immerses the viewer in his arduous journey, while the natural light accentuates the fragility and significance of the candle.

Scene 2: Domenico’s Speech

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  • Literary Device: Allegory
  • Cinematic Techniques: Dramatic monologue, crowd scenes, intense close-ups
  • Explanation: Domenico’s speech serves as a powerful allegory for humanity’s existential plight. The close-ups convey his passion and urgency, while the crowd scenes amplify the universality of his message.

Scene 3: Andrei’s Dream of Russia

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  • Literary Device: Flashback
  • Cinematic Techniques: Surreal imagery, soft focus, evocative soundscape
  • Explanation: The dream sequences use surreal imagery and evocative soundscapes to create a poignant contrast between Andrei’s past and present, highlighting his deep-seated nostalgia and cultural dislocation.


Interactive Multiple Choice Quiz

  1. What does the candle symbolize in Nostalghia?
    • A) Love
    • B) Faith and perseverance
    • C) Fear
  2. Which character serves as an allegory for the misunderstood visionary?
    • A) Andrei Gorchakov
    • B) Domenico
    • C) Eugenia
  3. What is the main theme explored through Andrei’s journey?
    • A) Wealth
    • B) Existential search
    • C) Adventure
  4. How is irony depicted in Domenico’s character?
    • A) Through his humorous dialogues
    • B) His madness contrasts with his profound wisdom
    • C) His wealth versus his lifestyle
  5. Which cinematic technique is used to enhance the symbolism of the candle?
    • A) Dramatic music
    • B) Long take and natural light
    • C) Fast cuts and bright colors