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Andrei Rublev (1966)


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I might be misunderstanding the question or your reply, Doug, but the horse falling down the stairs actually is in the Criterion cut, and plays right through to the point where the animial is killed with a spear. The shot begins at 1:52:51 and concludes at 1:53:35.

Edited by Ron

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In case this is useful to anyone, here's an outline of the Criterion DVD, with chapter numbers, time codes and chapter title. (Italicized items relate to the commentary tracks)

1) 0:00:00 Opening titles and credits

2) 0:02:38 (Prologue: Flight) Introduction

3) 0:03:25 The Balloon Camera movement & choreography

4) 0:08:15 The Jester: Summer 1400

5) 0:14:31 Punishment

6) 0:21:38 Theophanes the Greek: Summer-Winter-Spring Summer 1405-1406

7) 0:33:58 The messenger

8) 0:37:16 Andrei's farewell

9) 0:40:09 Kirill's farewell

10) 0:43:37 Reluctant teacher, reluctant pupil

11) 0:48:58 The Passion as told by Andrei Rublev

12) 0:51:05 Oneiric events

13) 0:56:58 The Holiday: Spring 1408

14) 0:58:27 The sensual world

15) 1:01:40 Caught

16) 1:06:18 "Where were you?"

17) 1:09:21 Persecution

18) 1:12:26 The Last Judgment: Summer 1408

19) 1:15:59 "I don't want to terrify people"

20) 1:18:22 "

Edited by Ron

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Hmm...yes, I'm saying that scene is one that is (thankfully?) truncated in the shortened version. The Ruscico print doesn't include the latter stages of the fall or the spearing.

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Hmm...yes, I'm saying that scene is one that is (thankfully?) truncated in the shortened version.  The Ruscico print doesn't include the latter stages of the fall or the spearing.

Gotcha.

The "thankfully?" in brackets pretty much sums it up, doesn't it? Watching that sequence is almost unbearable, and cutting it short seems merciful (to the viewer, though of course it makes no difference to the horse!). Yet diminishing its power by making it more "humane" (or, at least, less inhumane) seems also wrong-headed. An unforgettable, conflicting scene.

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Well put, Ron. My friend Jan who co-moderates Nostalghia.com has always claimed that the scene seems accidental because you can actually see the camera unexpectedly jerk a bit before following the horse down the steps, and that the spearing may have been done to spare the horse's agony. Okay...but then there are the ethical questions regarding whether or not the footage should have found its way into the final cut...or whether the horse--which the producers purchased from a meat factory--suffered in any way that it wouldn't have otherwise. And those questions are so emotional and ethical that they invarialy pull me out of the film entirely.

And I find the scene no less upsetting and artistically questionable than Haneke's literal shooting of horses at point blank range in Time of the Wolf. Yet I'm not bothered by the instantaneous beheading of a chicken in Cach

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Heck, I go through these questions when I see slugs get stabbed in Mean Creek or ants get crushed in Pi. But then, I guess, just as I also do not eat horses, I don't eat those animals, either.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
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I'm glad someone resurrected this thread. I knew I was missing something in my life. I recently rewatched some of Andrei, and here are some of the new ideas that came to mind.

# 1. I love second viewings. Of anything. Period. If you don't like a film, go see it again. Unless its title is Pleasantville. grin.gif

#2. Andrei Rublev First 40 Minute Themes and Comparisons--

Man vs. Man

The people who did not want to see scientific progress in the flight of the balloon vs. the one who chooses to fly with it. I am certain a similar theme can be found in the end of the film in the building of the giant bell, and it leads to questions of what a man can build, of modernism and its attempts to replace God with technology -- of Babel. Are the ideals of modernism and communism really that far apart? Each replaces God with technology or communal progress. Each brings a father in place of the Father. Isn't The Return as well just riffing off of this theme?

Man vs. Nature

The one who flies is a man... But the man will fall when gravity pulls him back down to the earth. The balloon is a lot like the horse in this way -- it rolls on its back and does a trick for you but escapes you in the end.

The Religious vs. The Jesters

The religious cover themselves and come in from the rain, taking shelter from the crashing storm. The jesters go shirtless, trying to prove themselves against the elements. The fellow in the early scene reminded me of Forest Gump's Lt. Dan.

Interesting to note that the monk says, "God sent priests, but the Devil sent Jesters," yet more joy was present in the folly of the jester's show. Religion in the form of solemn priests shows up on the scene and silences the party. Religion is seen as travelling onward, something that stops for a moment to get warm to, and then? -- Religion watches passively as Authority takes the laughter (jester) away.

I remember someone once saying that the ultimate foundations of any political state are violence and authority.

I wonder how much of this solemnity plays into the auteur's understanding of communist "religious" rule.

-s.

Edited by stef

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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I love second viewings.  Of anything.  Period.  If you don't like a film, go see it again.  Unless its title is Pleasantville. grin.gif

In which case fifteenth and sixteenth viewings are definitely in order.

duel.gif

The people who did not want to see scientific progress in the flight of the balloon vs. the one who chooses to fly with it.  I am certain a similar theme can be found in the end of the film in the building of the giant bell, and it leads to questions of what a man can build, of modernism and its attempts to replace God with technology -- of Babel. ... replaces God with technology or communal progress.  Each brings a father in place of the Father. 

I guess I don't see the balloonist as a technologist seeking to replace God with something of his own making / striving, but rather as a holy figure, yearning for transcendence, and in fact risking all to rise above the barbarism of life below and be closer to God. "To touch the face of God," isn't there a poem like that, about an aviator or something. I totally buy your comparison with the bell-maker, but again I see him as a character whose courageous risk-taking brings transcendence, glory to God, benefit to the community, all that. Not a Babel image, but an image more in line with a mystic or almost prophet.

I think that's in line with the exalted position of poets in Russian society: worship them or banish them because of their power, Russians really do glorify the artist, and Tarkovsky seems to have been very much of that mindset. Artist as demiurge / prophet / holy explorer.

Of course, in RUBLEV, there's great cost to these enterprises: the balloon man crashes to earth, the bell-maker collapses in utter emotional and physical exhaustion, quite broken.

(Which in turn completes a restorative work in Andrei: the redemptive power of suffering, sacrifice, etc.)

The Religious vs. The Jesters

The religious cover themselves and come in from the rain, taking shelter from the crashing storm.  The jesters go shirtless, trying to prove themselves against the elements.  The fellow in the early scene reminded me of Forest Gump's Lt. Dan.

Nice observations. There's something very earthy, elemental about the jester, and the image of him half-naked in the rain is a potent contrast to the berobed monks sheltering in the hut. Still, I also think there's something fundamentally good about the jester: perhaps he's not so much working against God / the elements as he is at one with them, another kind of holy fool? He works hard, he brings relief or at least distraction to people whose lot in life is very low, and we recoil at his punishment at the hands of the authorities. I perceive the jester as another one of Tarkovsky's artist figures, oppressed / silenced by a repressive authority.

Interesting to note that the monk says, "God sent priests, but the Devil sent Jesters," yet more joy was present in the folly of the jester's show.  Religion in the form of solemn priests shows up on the scene and silences the party.  ... Religion watches passively as Authority takes the laughter (jester) away.

Absolutely! Even more, we learn in the bell-making section that

one of the monks is responsible for the authorities being called to clamp down on the jester - an action for which he seems to express remorse, almost 20 years later, after he himself has been humbled by suffering.

I wonder how much of this solemnity plays into the auteur's understanding of communist "religious" rule.

Oh, how interesting! That Tarkovsky has portrayed the atheistic Soviet authorities in the guise of monks! A very deft - and readily deniable - sleight of hand, symbolically.

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Thanks for your comments, Ron. I really love your balloon-sequence interpretation more than my own. You made me want to watch it from beginning to end again soon.

-s.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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You made me want to watch it from beginning to end again soon.

Makes a nice double feature with PLEASANTVILLE...

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  • 7 months later...

I wonder how much of this solemnity plays into the auteur's understanding of communist "religious" rule.

Oh, how interesting! That Tarkovsky has portrayed the atheistic Soviet authorities in the guise of monks! A very deft - and readily deniable - sleight of hand, symbolically.

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Guest MamayKhan

good day everybody, what do you think about the raid scene and the role of the Tatars in the movie? How do you interprete it?

:spoilers: :spoilers: :spoilers: :spoilers:

Is the topic solely a backwards-nationalistic chauvinist one, about Russians killing Russians? it is explicitly stated in the "Hey, we're both Russians"-"Shut up, Vladimirian hound." dialogue and in the brother-vs.-brother theme. The Tatars themselves aren't shown as characters, but rather as an occurance, they torture, rape, kill random people - later they take the fool for a ride, once again expressing nothing, but drunk laughter. Aside from that the Khan's the one who has learned (stereotypically broken <_< ) Russian; There is no interpreter which him places below the duke - not regarding that Tatars are actually the overlords. OK, sure Tatars did pillage and kill, but they, as well had their wives and kids who were not treated greatly during wars. ::pinch:: So why the hell didn't he make a film on the massacres to near-extinction of the Tatars in the following century for ex.... cuse me, for I went off-rails ::blush:: What do you think about the (spiritual?) role of Tatars in the film?

:spoilers: :spoilers: :spoilers: :spoilers:

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Hi Mamay;

This is an interesting topic you post... No, it's not nationalistic, but a historical reality. Look at Aleksandr Nevsky, for instance. In this film, there is a rather degrading scene where the Tatar prince tries to get Nevsky's services, and there seems to be a polite refusal. In real life, Nevsky was a vassal to the Tatar Horde, but his main enemy at the time were the Teutonic Knights, who were encroaching into Russian soil.

To be fair, the Tatar was not exactly known for his chivalry and grace. He fought, and fought ugly. He had to in order to keep the larger Russian populace in line. If the Tatars want a better depiction, perhaps some aspiring Tatar director could make a film from his point of view. I've not seen anything that relates in this way, but as I don't read Tatar or Turkish very well, perhaps I missed something. These Rublev and Eisenstein stories are for Russians. They shouldn't have kow-towed to our sense of political correctness, and that idea, anyway, would have been laughed off.

good day everybody, what do you think about the raid scene and the role of the Tatars in the movie? How do you interprete it?

:spoilers: :spoilers: :spoilers: :spoilers:

Is the topic solely a backwards-nationalistic chauvinist one, about Russians killing Russians? it is explicitly stated in the "Hey, we're both Russians"-"Shut up, Vladimirian hound." dialogue and in the brother-vs.-brother theme. The Tatars themselves aren't shown as characters, but rather as an occurance, they torture, rape, kill random people - later they take the fool for a ride, once again expressing nothing, but drunk laughter. Aside from that the Khan's the one who has learned (stereotypically broken <_< ) Russian; There is no interpreter which him places below the duke - not regarding that Tatars are actually the overlords. OK, sure Tatars did pillage and kill, but they, as well had their wives and kids who were not treated greatly during wars. ::pinch:: So why the hell didn't he make a film on the massacres to near-extinction of the Tatars in the following century for ex.... cuse me, for I went off-rails ::blush:: What do you think about the (spiritual?) role of Tatars in the film?

:spoilers: :spoilers: :spoilers: :spoilers:

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I've been meaning to dig this thread out ever since I finally finished the film. Inspired by the "It's OK to sleep through great movies" thread, I used to watch this when stricken with insomnia. Worked every time, at least until the film ran out. Problem is I can't remember much of it, though the scene when the bell sounds at the end was incredible.

Matt

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  • 1 year later...

In 2007, St Vladimir's Seminary Press (Crestwood, NY) published the following book: The Rublev Trinity: the Icon of the Trinity by the Monk-painter Andrei Rublev. Its author is Father Gabriel Bunge, a Benedictine monk in Switzerland. The book was originally published in the German language, in 1994; this is the first English translation of it (it has been translated into several other languages as well). The book is 120 pages long and has 23 color plates.

In it, Father Bunge expounds masterfully on the more than thousand-year-old iconographic tradition behind the icon of the Holy Trinity, and he gives the contemporary believer a deeper appreciation of the icon's timeless message. The fact that the author of the book is from the Western, rather than the Eastern, tradition is noted by the writer of the book's Foreword, Sergei S. Averintsev, who writes:

"Should I regret that despite so many attempts from the Russian perspectives of art history, intellectual history, and even theology, nothing equal to this work has appeared? Or, quite the contrary, give rein to pure joy that the icon, which for every Russian believer expresses the palladium, the sign and meaning of Holy Russia, has been so well understood by a Western Benedictine monk, so perfectly explained? Certainly, the latter."

I recommend this book, without reservation, to anyone who is a devotee of Tarkovsky's film, Andrei Rublev. In particular, it must inevitably enhance one's appreciation for the concluding (color) sequence of Rublev's icons in the film, of which the portrayal of the icon of the Holy Trinity is the centerpiece. In the penultimate chapter of his book, titled "The Johannine Pentecost," Bunge writes that the Trinity icon depicts "this mystery of the grace of the Holy Spirit. From this milieu sprang an icon of the Holy Trinity with attributes never seen before, influenced by the theology of the Pentecostal feast. The attributes that Rublev used to make visible his inspiration are the postures and gestures of the three angels, to which we now want to turn."

Here, it may be well to state that the standard interpretation of the three angels, and the one that Bunge follows, takes them to represent Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, from left to right. Bunge writes:

"Let us now look at the posture and gesture of the three angels. The Son bows towards the Father and looks at him. His right hand seems to point at the chalice; yet, at the same time, beyond it towards the Spirit. It is evident that this is part of the design of the painter because the right hand of the Son was originally closed and only the index finger pointed over the chalice to the Spirit, which became clear in the restoration of the icon. This peculiar position of the finger must have seemed incomprehensible to the first copyists of the fifteenth century because they added the middle finger to the index finger. In this sense, even the original has been touched up. Sadly, the restorers at the beginning of the twentieth century did not undo this early retouching and significantly changed the sense of the gesture by making it one of blessing instead of referring.

"This apparently trifling detail -- the Son's gesture of pointing to the Spirit -- makes clear that the attention of the painter is directed at the Spirit, in contrast to the pattern of composition that shows the Son, traditionally, as the focal point. The Father's posture and gesture confirm this, for the Father, apparently, returns neither the gaze not the gesture of the Son, but looks at the Spirit, to whom his right hand, raised in blessing, is directed. The Spirit, finally, bows his head humbly before the Father, and his right hand, lowered towards the table, seems to want to underline this movement."

What we see, writes Bunge, is "a movement... a wordless conversation between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," and what we have is "a depiction in colour and shape of the Johannine account of Jesus' Farewell Discourse, which is completely shot through with the mystery, now being revealed, of the Triune God." Bunge writes:

"In an infinitely tender way, Andrei Rublev understood how to make this Johannine Pentecost manifest. The movement between the three divine persons, the intra-Trinitarian conversation, proceeds from the Son: With entreaty he looks at the Father, while his right hand points to the chalice of his Passion and beyond that to the Spirit. This look and this gesture intimate the request for the sending of the Paraclete, which only becomes possible through the self-sacrifice of the Son. The Father, who always hears the Son (Jn 11.42), fulfils this request: His gaze is directed to the Spirit, who is enthroned with him behind the altar table, and his right hand bestows on him the blessing for this completion of the saving work of the Son. The Holy Spirit, however, bows his head in humble assent, which is shown by his lowered right hand. Behind the Paraclete, the rock -- probably represented as cracked by Rublev -- suggests in a symbol that the life-giving streams of the Holy Spirit pour forth from the opened side of the mystical rock, that is, Christ.

"...

"Rublev's brilliant achievement, therefore, consists in having created an icon, which for the first time not only depicts the three divine hypostases, but also manifests each of them in their unchangeable uniqueness as persons, that is, in their relationship to the other persons, insofar as this is known in their individual activity in the history of salvation: going out from the Father, through the Son in the Holy Spirit -- and again in the Spirit returning to the Father through the Son.

"...

"... the priest and martyr Pavel Florensky was right when he ventured this unusual 'proof of the existence of God': 'There exists the icon of the Trinity by St Andrei Rublev; therefore, God exists.'"

Mike McIntyre

Edited by tenpenny

For the Word of God and God wills always and in all things to accomplish the mystery of his embodiment. – Maximus the Confessor

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  • 1 year later...

Same here. It is funny how a good review can stir up longings for something that has been collecting dust for a few years.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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I just watched this for the first time. It is, after all, moving its way up in our Top 100 list. At this point, I've got nothing - no words to really try and explain something that I obviously didn't understand.

For now, all I can do is appreciate Ron Reed's review and give this some time -

Andrei Tarkovsky was himself a Christian, and it is easy to read the film as the testimony (protest?) of an artist believer under the repressive Soviet regime of the early 1960s. Its subtitle suggests his personal identification with the travails of the great Russian iconographer, and may explain why the film was shown only briefly in Moscow in 1966 before being shelved for three years. A single covert out-of-competition screening at the Cannes Festival introduced this austere, obscure masterpiece to the world, and its mystique grew until bemused London audiences were finally able to view a 140 minute cut in 1973. They assumed that this elliptical pageant, moving almost at random through a quarter century of medieval Russian history in a series of barely connected scenarios of brutal violence and obscure theologizing, interrupted by sudden and unannounced fantasy sequences, must have been rendered unintelligible by Soviet censors.

Such challenges did not originate with the bureaucrats. Far more complete versions screened in the ensuing three and a half decades, each successive release only adding to the film’s narrative and thematic challenges. Tarkovsky’s subsequent films all confirm the artist’s lack of interest in conventional narrative and his unwillingness to diminish the mysterious complexities of the images he places on screen. Indeed it might be said that his central preoccupation is Mystery, that he fiercely resists any steps toward simplification or clarity that might diminish his ability to evoke that quality on film. In his aesthetic manifesto Sculpting In Time, Tarkovsky himself writes that his masterpiece “strikes me as disjointed and incoherent”: he calls it “a complete mystery, the riddle of my life.”

It was only during my second viewing that I started even to appreciate this daunting, opaque film. It took a third time through (with two friends who had never met, each of whom counted this their uncontested favorite film) to begin actually to like it. But it was only after working my way through the film scene-by-scene, followed a fifth complete viewing, that the power ofAndrei Rublev truly took hold of me, and I came to share my friends’ enthusiasm. I can’t understand why the film didn’t speak to me when first I encountered it, it lives so close to the central concerns of my life. In all its mystery and concreteness, Tarkovsky’s masterpiece has become essential to my faith, speaking as no other film does to my understanding of the place of my art in the world, and in the kingdom of God.

And also, for other newcomers to the film, SDG's review.

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*Imagines Up as a Tarkovsky movie*

See, I was thinking Andrei Rublev as a Pixar movie....

Brilliant, all.

du Garbandier, I've replicated your original post on one of my blogs. And while I'm at it, duG - "Dull in a new way," beneath that avatar image? Perfection.

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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  • 2 months later...

It just struck me over at the Exploring the List 2011 thread that, just on that thread alone, there are 4-5 A&F'ers who have never seen Andrei Rublev. What with it having made the Top 100 list at #2 this time, well, it rose up there for a reason. So if you haven't seen it yet, and there's a single film on the Top 100 that you make a little bit of an effort to see this year, see this one. I am currently in love with this film. Just saw it a second time this last weekend. It was more spellbinding on a second viewing than it was on the first.

I'm now organizing a group of unsuspecting friends from church to see this soon just so I can watch it a third time with company.

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I also saw this for the first time just a couple months ago. As one who loves short stories, I am very struck by the way this film is a giant of a historical epic that is nevertheless constructed from numerous short films or short stories that come together in a completely original and startling way. (I may be getting some of this from my memory of Ron Reed's review as well.) The different perspectives of some of the stories are so powerful, particularly the one that begins with the boy whose father knew the secret of making church bells. Never have I seen a movie that is supposedly about a true-life person that seems so untethered to the conventions of traditional film biography. I'm Not There (the Dylan film) was, of course, another film "about" someone that did not follow convention, yet that was done in a very different way.

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