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Andreiv Rublev charts the life of the great icon painter through a turbulent period of 15th Century Russian history, a period marked by endless fighting between rival Princes and by Tatar invasions. Written by
L.H. Wong <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As someone who has seen this movie roughly five times and regards it as the greatest masterpiece in the history of cinema, I find it difficult to fathom how anyone can think that Andrei Rublev is "slow" or "boring". It is true that it's slow-paced, and perhaps too demanding in its unconventional structure of narrative, but I would prefer this to anything commercial cinema releases in its quest to appeal to as broad a market a possible. In other words, given the choice between a film that treats its audience with respect and gives you enough credit to assume you are willing to sit through roughly three hours of lengthy dialogue and long takes, not to mention some of the most mesmerisingly beautiful visuals ever seen on screen; and one which treats its audience like a demographic that can be appealed to like consumers, not individuals with their own dreams, fears, hopes and aspirations, I know which type of cinema truly bores me.
It is often the case that art serves as a mechanism used to comment on social- or individuals ills; rarely however, if at all, does it reflect on itself and its own function to humanity. This is what makes Andrei Rublev a unique and important film, since it addresses the role of the artist in the world. Any questions regarding historical accuracy (or rather lack thereof) towards Rublev's personal life are slightly pointless, since the character is merely used as a vehicle to drive the thematic elements of the narrative. That's not to say that Rublev here is an empty shell, it's simply that Tarkovsky used him as a means to impose his personal views on the subject. Why create art? Does being an artist mean expressing love for humanity? If so, why should one express love for something which seems to hate itself? These are just a few of the questions which arise from viewing this film (and some of which Rublev seems to ask himself, illustrated by at first a naive belief in the good in all humanity, then disillusion, and eventually a rekindling of faith), but it makes the montage of Rublev's work at the end of the film all the more effective, since it creates an understanding of the pain and anguish that lie behind these images.
To regard Andrei Rublev as one movie (assuming that the general definition of a movie is simply a big chunk of storyline) would do some injustice to the brilliantly unorthodox nature of its narrative, in that it's a collection of eight mini-story lines, all of which can be viewed as individual pieces, and three of which could easily pass as masterpieces in their own right. My personal favourite is the third one; Rublev's dialogue with Theophanes The Greek over the self-destructive nature of humanity is, to me at least, one of the most moving moments on film (this is possibly due to Theophanes voicing an opinion I personally arrived at some time before initially watching this film - and one I unfortunately happen to agree with).
Like most of Tarkovsky's movies, Andrei Rublev demands repeated viewings so the film can be absorbed and understood in full. But by doing so you'll begin to realise that this is possibly the most rewarding of all cinematic works, and consequently the most wonderful. The best film ever made? I certainly think so.
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