"When he fell in love with Lora he fell in love with Russia" - these are the words of Soviet/Russian poet Bella Akhmadulina about a cult Italian poet, writer and screenwriter, who has collaborated with some of the most prominent film directors of the world - Tonino Guerra and his Russian wife Eleonora Yablochkina.
They met in Moscow in summer 1975 during Moscow Film festival where Tonino Guerra was invited with Italian film director Michelangelo Antonioni.
In the interview with Lora Guerra she recalls moment they met: Eleonora was living in Moscow and working as an editor at Mosfilm (oldest Russian film studio) then. She was recently a widowed then grieving for her husband Alexander Yablochkin, a director at Mosfilm. Once a friend of hers who was married to Russian neurosurgeon Alexander Konovalov invited Lora to the reception at their home. The reception was in honor of Guerra and Antonioni. Lora could not miss the change to see the live legends - Antonioni's The Red Desert, Blowup and Eclipse had already become box-office hits. The scripts were all written by Guerra.
There first meeting was short - in a short talk Tonino asked her if she had ever been to Italy and if she would like to come. one of them spoke the language of the other. So all the communication was possible through the interpreter only. A month later Guerra sent Lora an invitation to come visit him in Italy as his bride as it seemed to the only way for her to go aboard. The possibilities to leave the country were very limited in the Soviet Union those days. Lora did not go to Italy, but anyway lost her editorial job at Mosfilm because of this invitation. The friends stood up for her and she finally got a minor post with the smallest pay.
Half a year later Guerra came to Moscow again at the invitation of Soviet film director Sergei Bondarchuk. Their relationship started in Moscow, continued in Italy and no one could hinder them - neither the KGB officials that were spying at them nor some of Guerra's friends who were opposed Lora.
Lora Guerra says she received a call from Moscow in 2003 informing her that all the peppers of an earlier closed KGB department in Goskino (State Agency on Culture and Cinematography) were just thrown away in the street. There were lots of denunciation letters about Lora and Tonino describing where they went and what they did in Moscow.
Eleonora Yablochkina and Tonino Guerra finally got married. Antonioni and Andrew Tarkovsky were witnesses to the ceremony. And thus Guerra's "Russian period" began. Tonino always made extraordinary gifts to his wife. After the marriage he presented her with a bird's cage, filling it with little notes in Italian. One of Guerra's famous saying later appeared in Tarkovsky's film Nostalgia: "Air is so light that it gets to whirl around your head when you smile."
Another present to his beloved read-haired wife was a house in Italian province Pennabilli, where they lived till 2012 when Guerra died. They were together for almost 35 years and Guerra liked to say he was Russian by his marital status. An Italian poet and his muse worked and travelled together. Lora was his interpreter: Guerra's books were published in Russian with her translation.
This was she who introduced Guerra and Tarkovsky to each other. Their friendship and common work gave the world Tarkovsky's immortal film "Nostalgia" (1983) - Guerra and Tarkovsky co-scripted for the film
A Russian journalist once asked Tonino about Russian women. Italian genius compared Russian wives with full of feelings meteorites. But then they start to dominate and guide the husband's creative work. Guerra said: "This comes from her strong motherly spirit and kindness. A Russian wife becomes a mother, a guide and a nanny for her man, which limits the artist's liberty. I am not speaking about greater liberties. But when it comes to what soup to eat and what shirt to wear, then a Russia wife become really firm."
Lora Guerra speaks of herself as of a very happy person. She admits was blessed with luck and was attempting to be worthy of this choice all her life. "After 35 years together we have the same blood flow" - she says in the interview - "I am the bridge from Russia to Italy. This is my job'.
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