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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>
I follow several threads of fine films. Most of these concern intelligent notions of structure, of architecture. Welles, Greenaway, Eisenstein, Kurosawa. These mend sense and intellect enhancing both.
But there is another thread, one that eschews selfaware structure -- where idea is anathema. Nature is celebrated. Rich intuition and meditative spontaneity are sufficiently nutritious in some hands, but these are amazingly few. The so-called 'new wave' tried it, at least initially. Lots of other appearances as well, mostly failures, some lovely. Among the attempts, I know of only two filmmakers who have mastered this tricky approach of avoiding knowledge: Tarkovsky and Malick. Of these, Malick is more abstractly sensual.
After all, Tarkovsky must deal with that dark cloth of Russian self-pity, that tradition of grand themes and epic fate, something which does not burden Malick. So the metaphoric content is heavy. That's fine, an acceptable skeleton for a nearly three hour meditation. All is self-referential: a set of images about an imagemaker: the actor's wife played the retarded girl who factors so importantly. During the production he was cheating on her with who was to become his second wife. The girl goes off with a Tartar, leaving Rublev. Many other scenes refer to Rublev's situation, resolved by Tarkovsky's action. For instance, we have a sequence where Rublev hesitates to paint a scene of fateful pain. This is followed by Tarkovsky doing just that. The extension of metaphor among parts of the film (ballooner and bellringer to Rublev's story) extends from the film to the filmmaker and thence from him to us.
What I found even more interesting was his confidence in complex compositions and long, long multiperspective tracking shots. Compared to other swoopers, this camera seems curious, impetuous, not at all as if the shots were planned. Hard to believe it is only his second feature. This alone expands one's imagination with only a couple viewings, but combined with the notion of folded metaphor (including visual metaphor) it becomes a truly great and singular work.
(Some classical symmetries touch multiple places: a jester within the play; solitude in the context of relationship; creating in the unknown; broken symmetry through one twin killing another. Some new ones: pagan fire and water underlying ritual exuberance, either sex or religious art.)
Alas, the DVD has a discouragingly vapid commentary. But then I guess that's the whole point, and with the loss of potatohead Soviets, we need to substitute the next best thing.
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