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Andrei Rublev (1966)

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Directed By: 
Details: 205 mins · Russian, Italiano, Tatar

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Honestly, I understand the historic and aesthetic significance, but I didn't enjoy the choppy narrative. Though I understand this is done with intention, to me it wasn't saying anything with intention. There was a lack of flow that I find necessary when watching a movie. Certainly interesting and certainly different.

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Cast:

Small Andrej Rubljow
Small Kirill
Small Danil Chorny
No_movie_poster Theophanes the Greek
No_movie_poster Durochka
Small Boriska
Small Großer Prinz/Sein Bruder
No_movie_poster Stephan
Small Foma
No_movie_poster Tatar Khan
Small Der Narr
Small Pater Patrikey
Small The jester
No_movie_poster Stepan
No_movie_poster Idiot girl

Crew:

Small Andrei Tarkovsky Director
No_movie_poster Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov Original Music Composer
No_movie_poster Vadim Yusov Director of Photography
No_movie_poster Lyudmila Feiginova Editor
No_movie_poster Tamara Ogorodnikova Producer
No_movie_poster Olga Shevkunenko Editor
No_movie_poster Tatyana Yegorychyova Editor
No_movie_poster Yevgeni Chernyayev Production Design
No_movie_poster Ippolit Novoderyozhkin Production Design
No_movie_poster Sergei Voronkov Production Design
No_movie_poster Maya Abar-Baranovskaya Costume Design
No_movie_poster Lidiya Novi Costume Design
No_movie_poster Inna Zelentsova Sound Designer
Small Andrei Tarkovsky Writer
No_movie_poster Andrei Konchalovsky Writer
No_movie_poster Lyudmila Feiginova Editing
No_movie_poster Olga Shevkunenko Editing
No_movie_poster Tatyana Yegorychyova Editing

Plot:

Note: The following synopsis refers to the original, 205 minute version of the film.

Andrei Rublev is divided into seven chapters and a prologue and an epilogue only loosely related to the main film. The main film charts the life of the great icon painter through several episodes of his life. The background is 15th century Russia, a turbulent period characterized by fighting between rival princes and the Tatar invasions.

The film's prologue shows the preparations for a hot air balloon ride. The balloon takes off from the roof of a church, with a man named Yefim (Nikolay Glazkov) roped beneath the balloon, at the very moment of arrival of an ignorant mob trying to thwart the flight. The man is delighted by the sight from the air, but can not prevent a crash landing. Yefim is the first of several creative characters, representing the daring escapist, whose hopes are easily crushed. After the crash, a horse is seen lolling by a pond, a symbol of life — one of many horses in the movie.

The Jester, Summer 1400: Andrei (Anatoly Solonitsyn), Danil (Nikolai Grinko) and Kirill (Ivan Lapikov) are wandering monks, looking for work. The three represent different creative characters. Andrei is the observer, a humanistic artist who searches for the good in people and wants to inspire and not frighten. Danil is withdrawn and resigned, and not as bent on creativity as on self-realization. Kirill lacks talent, yet strives to achieve prominence. He is jealous, self-righteous, very intelligent and perceptive. The three have just left the Andronikov Monastery, where they have lived many years, heading to Moscow. During a heavy rain they seek shelter in a barn, where a group of villagers is being entertained by a jester (Rolan Bykov). The jester, or skomorokh, is a bitterly sarcastic enemy of the state and the Church, who is earning a living with his scathing and obscene social commentary and by making fun of the Boyars. He ridicules the monks as they come in, and after some time Kirill leaves unnoticed. Shortly, the skomorokh is picked up by a group of soldiers, knocked out headfirst against a tree and taken away.

Theophanes the Greek, Summer-Winter-Spring-Summer 1405–1406: Kirill arrives at the Theophanes the Greek's workshop, where Theophanes the Greek (Nikolai Sergeyev), a prominent and well-recognized master, is working on another of his icons. Theophanes the Greek is portrayed as a complex character: an established artist, humanistic and God-fearing in his views yet somewhat cynical, regarding his art more as a craft and a chore in his disillusion with other people. His young apprentices have all run away to the town square, where a convicted criminal is about to be tortured and executed in public. Kirill talks to Theophanes, and the artist, impressed by his erudition, invites him to work as an apprentice on the decoration of Cathedral of the Annunciation in Moscow. Kirill refuses at first, but then accepts the offer on the only condition that Theophanes will personally come to the Andronikov Monastery and invite Kirill to work with him in view of all the fraternity and Andrei Rublev.

The three monks are back at the Andronikov Monastery. Theophanes the Greek sends a messenger to Andrei to ask him for his assistance in decorating Cathedral of the Annunciation. Both Danil and Kirill are agitated by the recognition Andrei experiences. Danil refuses to accompany Andrei and reproaches him for accepting Theophanes's offer without considering his fellows, but soon repents of his temper and wishes Andrei well. Kirill is jealous and in great anger, and he leaves the monastery for the secular world, throwing the accusations of greed in the face of the monks. Andrei leaves for Moscow with his young apprentice Foma (Mikhail Kononov). Foma is another creative character, representing the light-hearted and practical-minded commercial artist. Still he seems to be contemplative enough to get along with Andrei.

The Passion According to Andrei, 1406: While walking in the woods, Andrei and Foma have a conversation about Foma's faults, especially lying. While Foma has talent as an artist, he is less concerned with the deeper meaning of his work and more concerned with practical aspects of the job, like perfecting his azure, a colour which in painting was often considered unstable to mix. They encounter Theophanes in the forest, and the old master sends Foma away. As he leaves, the apprentice finds a dead bird and pokes it. We cut to a conversation between Andrei and Theophanes, this time set on a stream bank. Theophanes argues that the ignorance of the Russian people is due to stupidity, while Andrei says that he doesn't understand how he can be a painter and maintain such views. "I'd have taken vows of schema long ago and settled down in a cave for good." This section contains a reenactment of Christ's Crucifixion, which plays as Andrei recounts the story and expresses his faith.

The Feast, 1408: During a nightly walk Andrei encounters a group of naked pagans, whose celebration implies sensuality and lust. Andrei feels attracted by the rituals he witnesses. He is caught by the pagans and tied to a cross, and threatened to be drowned in the morning. A woman named Marfa (Nelly Snegina), only dressed with a mantle approaches Andrei. She drops her mantle, kisses and then frees him. The next morning as Andrei leaves a group of soldiers arrives and rounds up the pagans. Marfa escapes by running into the river and swimming past Andrei’s boat. He and his fellow monks look away in shame.

The Last Judgment, Summer 1408: Andrei and Danil are working on the decoration of a church in Vladimir. Over months, work is not progressing, as Andrei is doubting himself. He confides to Danil that his task disgusts him and that he is unable to paint a subject such as the Last Judgement, as he doesn’t want to terrify people. He comes to the conclusion that he has lost the ease of mind that an artist needs for his work. Foma, impatient and ambitious, quits to collect on an offer to paint a church of his own. Stone carvers working on the church are offered work on the Grand Prince's mansion. On the path to the new job, the Grand Prince's jealous brother sends soldiers to accost the artisans and gouge their eyes out, so that they cannot replicate their work. Back in the church Durochka (Irma Raush), a holy fool or Yurodivy, wanders inside. Her feeble-mindedness and innocence leads Andrei to the idea to paint a feast.

The Raid, Autumn 1408: While the Grand Prince is away in Lithuania, the Grand Prince’s brother and a group of Tatars raid Vladimir. The invasion and the resulting carnage is shown in great detail. One famous scene shows a horse falling from a flight of stairs and being stabbed by a spear. Another famous scene shows a cow set on fire. The tatars enter the church. Andrei prevents the rape of Durochka by a Russian by slaying the perpetrator. Shaken by this event Andrei falls into self-doubt and decides to give up painting and takes a vow of silence.

The Silence, Winter 1412: Andrei is once again at the Andronikov Monastery. He neither paints nor speaks and keeps Durochka with him. After several years of absence, Kirill shows up at the monastery and asks to be taken in. The father superior allows him to return, but requires him to copy the scriptures fifteen times. One day, Tatars stop at the monastery while traveling through. One of the Tatars takes Durochka away as his eighth wife.

The Bell, Spring-Summer-Winter-Spring 1423–1424: Andrei's life turns around when he witnesses the casting of a bell for the Grand Prince. As the bellmaker has died, his son Boriska (Nikolai Burlyayev) tells the Prince's men that he is the only one who possesses his father's secret of casting a bell. Boriska is another creative character. He is aware of his own importance and the difficult task at hand. He is able to create through a combination of natural skill and pure faith. Boriska supervises the digging of the pit, the selection of the clay, the building of the mold, the firing of the furnaces and the hoisting of the bell. During the process the bell-making endeavor grows into a large, costly effort with many workers and Boriska makes several risky decisions, guided by his instinct. At one point, he privately asks God for help.

Halfway through the sequence the skomorokh from the first sequence makes a reappearance and threatens to kill Andrei, whom he mistakes for the man who denounced him years earlier. Kirill steps in and intervenes on behalf of the silent Andrei. Later Kirill confesses privately to Andrei that his sinful envy of Andrei's talent dissipated once he heard Andrei had abandoned painting and that it was he (Kirill) who denounced the skomorokh. Kirill then takes Andrei to task for allowing his God-given talent for painting to go fallow and pleads with Andrei to resume his artistry.

As the bell-making proceeds toward its end Boriska's decisive confidence slowly transforms into a stunned, detached disbelief that he's succeeded at the task. The work crew takes over as Boriska makes repeated, nervous attempts to fade into the background of the activity. Once the bell has been hoisted into its bell tower the Grand Prince and his entourage arrive for the inaugural ceremony. As the bell is prepared to be rung the royal entourage is overhead discussing its doubts that the bell will ring. It's revealed that Boriska and the work crew know if the bell fails to ring the Grand Prince will have them all beheaded. (We also overhear that the Grand Prince had his brother, who raided Vladimir in The Raid sequence, beheaded.) There is a quiet, agonizing tension as the foreman slowly coaxes the bell's clapper back and forth, nudging it closer to the lip of the bell with each swing. We pan across the assembly and see Durochka, robed in white leading a horse (preceded by a boy, presumably her son) as she walks through the crowd. At the critical moment the bell rings perfectly and she smiles. After the ceremony Andrei finds Boriska collapsed on the ground, sobbing as he admits his father never told him the secret of casting a bell. Andrei comforts him, breaking his vow of silence and telling the boy that they should go together. "You’ll cast bells. I’ll paint icons." Andrei sees Durochka, the boy and the horse walk off across a muddy field in the distance.

The epilogue is the only part of the film in color and shows details of several of Andrei Rublev's icons. The icons are shown in the following order: Enthroned Christ, Twelve Apostles, The Annunciation, Twelve Apostles, Jesus entering Jerusalem, Birth of Christ, Enthroned Christ, Transfiguration of Jesus, Resurrection of Lazarus, The Annunciation, Resurrection of Lazarus, Birth of Christ, Trinity, Archangel Michael, Paul the Apostle, The Redeemer. The final scene crossfades from the icons and shows four horses at a river during rain.

Release Dates:

Theatrical : Soviet Union

Theatrical : 1971-12-24 : Soviet Union

Theatrical : 1972-12-15 : Finland

Theatrical : United Kingdom

Theatrical : 1973-04-05 : Hungary

Theatrical : 1973-05-09 : Sweden

Theatrical : 1973-10-04 : Denmark

Theatrical : 1974-12-21 : Japan

Theatrical : 1978-06-07 : Spain

Theatrical : 1983-01-21 : Portugal

Theatrical : 1985-07-25 : Netherlands

Theatrical : 1991-07-19 : United Kingdom

Theatrical : 2004-07-02 : United Kingdom

Theatrical : 2004-10-16 : Hong Kong

Theatrical : 2008-11-27 : Russia

Theatrical : 2009-07-02 : Greece

Television : 1973-08-13 : West Germany

2009-04-07 : Turkey

2012-06-23 : Russia

2012-07-09 : Armenia