Monday, August 23, 2010

ANDREI RUBLEV (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966, Soviet Union)

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+)


Chase Kahn said...

Behind "Stalker", this is my favorite Tarkovsky. I haven't seen it in a while, but I distinctly remember that Tartar raid scene to this day.

I know Criterion has been talking up a new-and-improved transfer, I think it's about time for the Blu-ray...

Alex DeLarge said...

The MosFilm import blu-ray looks fantastic and I recommend purchasing if you can, though it's region C locked.

I would buy a Criterion BD because it would be loaded with extras which are lacking on the Russian BD.

The deep focus photography isn't evident with dvd resolution, and the battle scenes that look across the huge fields are awesome: you can actually see that Tarkovsky choreographed to the minutest detail. It really adds to the cinematic experience!

Alex DeLarge said...

Yeah, STALKER in high-def would be outstanding. I have the Artificial Eye dvd which is the best image quality but it is still lacking and looks flat. I want to watch STALKER again (it's been a few years) to write a review, but was waiting to see if MosFilm would release it this year.

Keep checking back, I have reviews for THE MIROR and THE SACRIFICE written and will post soon:)

Juan Ramos said...

I'm looking forward to your review of The Mirror, which is my favourite Tarkovsky film.