The phenomenon of the Russian / Soviet dacha and the image of the izba in Andrei Tarkovsky’s movie "Mirror"

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Polina Pavlikova


The meaning of dacha developed, and even radically changed over time, in the Russian Empire, then in the Soviet Union, and continues to evolve in contemporary Russia, as well as in the post-Soviet countries and other parts of Eastern Europe. The first dachas appeared at the time of Peter I, who presented lands to his nobles. In the Soviet Union, dachas were used mainly as vegetable gardens and became an essential resource for survival. During World War II, dachas, or country houses, were used for evacuations. In this article, the phenomenon of the Russian dacha with its recreational and salvatory functions is explored in the light of Michele Foucault’s heterotopia theory and Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of chronotope. The analysis of the dacha space as an ambivalent site of leisure, and a necessity for survival is supported by the example of Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Mirror. In this autobiographical movie, the director shows how Alexei (his hero and alter-ego) and his family escaped to the countryside during the war and used the izba, a traditional Slavic house, as a shelter. However, physical salvation turns into spiritual trial. The powerful opposition between mind and body, emptiness (starvation) and fullness (wellbeing) is explicated in the poem “Eurydice” by Arseny Tarkovsky, which the director artistically appropriates in the movie to reinforce the semantic message of the visual text.

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How to Cite
Pavlikova, P. (2022). The phenomenon of the Russian / Soviet dacha and the image of the izba in Andrei Tarkovsky’s movie "Mirror". Imaginaires, (24), 184-198.
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Author Biography

Polina Pavlikova, Université du Luxembourg

Polina Pavlikova is currently working on a PhD thesis entitled A Twin Texts Phenomenon: The Act of Self-correction at the University of Luxembourg. She holds a BA and an MA in Philology from Saint-Petersburg State University, and specialises in the poetry of prose-writers such as Andrei Bitov and Vladimir Nabokov; the relationship between the verbal and the visual in Andrei Tarkovsky’s films; and the problems of post-colonialism in the context of the post-Soviet space.