Andrei becomes a spectator in his own life, relegated to a silent existence, his iconic expressionism revealing the heavenly in a hellish world. Director Andrei Tarkovsky’s epiphany reveals sublime faith through experience, from the dusty teachings of studied tomes to the stark contrast of human suffering, Andrei becomes the cipher in a colorless world whose Technicolor destination awaits the compassionate.
The film begins with a flight of fancy, a daring escape full of hot air that results in a disastrous and deadly descent: a metaphor for life, the journey is so short but exhilarating, the destination always fatal. Tarkovsky then follows his protagonist through seven holy chapters, painting Andrei’s world in suffering and anguish, jealousy and betrayal, a black and white reality captured in deep emotional focus. Andrei’s travelogue is both physical and metaphysical as he attempts to reconcile two worlds; his cloistered reality and that of harsh survival.
Tarkovsky’s elegant cinematography is haunted by the ethereal human spirit, poetry at 24 frames-per-second, capturing the 15th century with grand wide-angle shots revealing spectacular background detail which heightens the epic sense of historicity. Tarkovsky also refuses to romanticize the past, depicting the sorrow, violence, and grim reality of Medieval life. The Tatar Raid is one of the most grandiose battle scenes ever imprinted on celluloid and into the collective consciousness, its violence unbearable yet somehow beautiful in its choreography of Thanatos, from the death-throws of an injured horse to the torture of a doomed man.
Andrei’s silence is shattered by the chimes of midday, his spirit awakened by the sacrifice of another for his Art, his need for creation a divine spark in an infernal world, Heaven imposed on the chaotic template of the physical medium. Andrei Rublev sees the world bleed in tragic color, scarred but forever preserved.
Final Grade: (A+)