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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars give it time, it'll take it
Insanely overlong, maddeningly opaque, visually striking but bleak, violent, stark--this would be a very easy movie on which to let the tiger out of the cage. But it also has a great reputation, both among cinephiles in general and among conservatives and the religious. So one is willing to give it more chances than it might otherwise deserve. And if you do stick with...
Published on Sept. 7 2002 by Orrin C. Judd

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars 205 minutes of snail crawling fun.
Do you like to watch paint dry for hours and then talk about what a visually stunning and spiritually meaningful experience you've just had? You're either zonked out of your minds on drugs or you're an Andrei Tarkovsky fan.
In this one, the greatest Russian director since Eisenstein treats us to Ansel Adams type photos that move and lots of mist. There's also...
Published on July 8 2002 by the wizard of uz


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars give it time, it'll take it, Sept. 7 2002
By 
Orrin C. Judd "brothersjudddotcom" (Hanover, NH USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Andrei Rublev (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Insanely overlong, maddeningly opaque, visually striking but bleak, violent, stark--this would be a very easy movie on which to let the tiger out of the cage. But it also has a great reputation, both among cinephiles in general and among conservatives and the religious. So one is willing to give it more chances than it might otherwise deserve. And if you do stick with it until its final third or so, the rewards are bounteous.
Andrei Tarkovsky tells the story of the great 15th Century icon painter, Andrei Rublev (Anatoli Solonitsyn), in a series of vignettes. The film opens with a famous scene of a man being dragged aloft by an escaping hot air balloon. He soars overhead beckoning the people bellow to follow him, but they can't or don't. Much of the rest of the film is taken up with Rublev's wanderings about Rus (old Russia) during a time of paganism, plague, poverty and marauding Tartars. Rublev is so disturbed by what he sees and by one violent reaction of his own, that he retreats into silence and gives up his artistry. But the final episode that he witnesses, which really makes the film, restores his faith and revives his desire to create art.
In this last story a young man, the son of a bell maker, convinces a noble's men that he can cast a great bell for them, that his father has handed down the secrets of the trade to him. But as the work progresses the boy, Boriska, makes missteps and squabbles with the workmen who served his father. At one point he is in desperate need of clay to fortify the mold for the bell, but can't find earth of the right consistency anywhere. Then fate intervenes and, chasing a lost shoe, he slides down a hill into a muddy patch of just the right kind of clay. Insisting that he be given a precise mix of precious metals, teetering on the edge of exhaustion, Boriska drives himself until the bell is done. Amazingly, when freed from its mold it proves beautiful and the tone it produces rings true. Only then does the boy reveal how truly miraculous it is that such beauty has arisen from the mud because his father died with the secrets unspoken and Boriska was actually learning as he went. In the end he got by on little more than faith. Rublev, who in this section as in most of the others is more a spectator than a player, goes to the boy and breaking his silence urges the boy to come with him and cast church bells while he, Rublev, will paint icons to adorn the walls. In particular, Rublev has been asked by Abbott Nikon of Radonezh of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Moscow to paint an icon commemorating the prior abbot, St. Sergius of Radonezh.
All that has gone before is in black and white, but in the last images of the film Tarkovsky shows color details of Rublev's greatest work, the Icon of the Holy Trinity (1410), based on Genesis 18, when the Trinity is understood to have appeared to Abraham :
1: And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;
2: And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door,
and bowed himself toward the ground,
3: And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:
4: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:
5: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant.
And they said, So do, as thou hast said.
6: And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes
upon the hearth.
7: And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.
8: And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree,
and they did eat.
9: And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.
10: And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. .
Obviously the director is telling us that the themes he has been exploring in Rublev's life, about which little is actually known, have come together in this magnificent artwork. As always with Mr. Tarkovsky, it's difficult to impose precise meanings on his narrative, but some of the ideas we can trace include the idea that the artist, though he must get down in the muck and experience life, must at least in his art rise above and lead the rest if humanity. The Trinity with its mysterious unity may also represent the necessary unifying of the various strata of the society that Rublev encountered--the wealthy nobles, the impoverished peasants, the churchmen who uneasily occupy the middle ground, perhaps even the Tartars. The painting and the film are certainly both invitations to us to join with the Trinity in the unity of love that they offer. On a more personal level the struggle of Boriska to create a bell on his own, without access to his father's wisdom, apparently represents Tarkovsky's own belief that each generation must discover artistic truths for itself. On all these levels, and many more that I'm sure eluded me, the film communicates its fascinating and beautiful ideas to us, so long as we've the patience to let it unwind to the end.
GRADE : A
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The epic sense of the life, May 22 2004
By 
Hiram Gomez Pardo (Valencia, Venezuela) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Andrei Rublev (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Andrei Rubliov is the masterpiece of Andrei Tarkovsky. I 've watched very carefullly all his works, and Andrei contains the quintessential thought of this unique film maker.
What Tarkovsky made with this film may be one the most overwhelming and haunting achievemnts in all the story of the world cinema.
Rubliov is a icon painter who after an important fac, decides not continue in that office.
The powerful of the barbarian invassion into a church, where he acquires the human experience gets far away the world, he isolates and becomes in a wanderer.
The unforgettable images that appear before the viewer are of a trascendental poetic beauty never seen before and even now.
All the journey along the Russia of XVI century is a reflexive gaze of the human condition , the sense of the life and how dealing with it, the unsaid code of one must behavior humanly, even in inhuman conditions, facing the world, with his singleness, its little moments of joy, his infinite sadness and its miseries.
The opening sequence in which the fall is shown before us, is a original metaphor of how facing with the failure; and is depicted with such kind of beautiness that mesmerizes you. No other film n the story, with the exception of the ending of A man escapes from Robert Bresson reveals with so frehness and vitality the epic sense before the life.
When Rubliov knows this teenager, in the final chapter, and faces with him the huge challenge that implies to make the asgned mission, turns back çRubliov and it invites him to keep on going in his mission or the moira term greek, his place in the universe, his meaning in this brief stage in the world.
This superb masterpiece, has countless remarkable sequences, the dialogues are feed of a blissness and poetic raprure without a drop of effectism.
When the mission is completed, and everybody celebrates the fact our young hero remains alone and Rubliov will gather with him and will tell wisdom words that I must not tell.
This is the goal of the artist; he must go to the forrest and seek the mushrooms; the people will be just waiting from the safe place for him; and no matter how dangerous or hazardous be the journey; they only expect for your bag. They will consume these gifts; but the creator must seek them.
Tarkovsky was in the middle of the creative universe (remeber his father Arseni Tarkovsky was a poet)in 1966; the script has an inner mytical force ; and every bit of this film is sublime, perfect.
Tarkovsky showed what many film makers haven't been able to do; express with a camera such landscape of images, in all his whole meaning.
Andrei Rubliov will be always a landmark ; an eternal triumph ; a epic statement that will be with all of us till the end of our lives.
And even more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars THE Russian epic with striking imagery (1966), April 26 2004
By 
OverTheMoon (overthemoonreview@hotmail.com) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Andrei Rublev (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Andrei Rublev is probably the greatest looking film of all time. It was shot on a Konvas (you can pick one up on Ebay for $1000) and film students will be stunned by what has been achieved in terms of cinematography with such an old and dated 35mm motion picture camera. It is inspirational in terms of film-making and this is the core reason why you should watch the film. If you are interested in Kino Art then Andrei Rublev can probably lay claim to the greatest art film ever made. If you are looking to experiment with Tarvoksky, then Andrei Rublev is not a bad place to start.
Like most of Tarkovsky's films, Andrei Rublev is extremely artistic, conjectures much on the human condition, metaphysics and Russian life - that all seem to have some hidden meanings that contains the film's truth that Tarkovsky expounds on - namely the wickedness of men and the temptations that they face. It is also about triumph of the will and the nature of man. This is all done via the "narrative" and the look of the film. Tarkovsky mixes moments of dialogue about the metaphysical (a doctrine that would continue to be a theme in all of this other films giving a sense of what was to come - especially the intricateness of Stalker, Solaris), arrestingly simple and slow cinematography (his trademark water shots), complex action sequences (there are full scale battles like from a Kurosawa movie) and visionary set designs (15th century villages, towns and cities). This is Tarkovsky's biggest film ever (and quite possibly the biggest Russian film ever).
The premise is complex. Andrei Rublev, a monk with the gift of painting, is invited to paint churches around the country and in Moscow. Between travelling from job to job he encounters - monks who have lost their faith, monks with too much faith in themselves, fools who are imprisoned for their beliefs, Wicca festivals (the pagan ceremonies of St. John's night), murder, torture (the Russian crucifixion), death, error, the sacking of towns by the Tartars (the sacking of Vladimir), vows of silence and of course the most striking final piece of the film - the making of the bell (the casting of the bell). Characters appear and disappear (a cinematic technique found in The Thin Red Line), but there is also a lot of hidden imagery (every time you watch it you find something new), in particular scenes of novice monks putting dirt on their cheeks which makes no sense at the time yet later on we seen Andrei put the same dirt as a stain on a church he has painted because of the bureaucratic blinding of artists (an extremely violent scene of which there are many. As a note: Andrei Rublev happens to be an extremely violent film and there are several disturbing scenes. Also a scene where a horse falls down a stairs was cut because of animal cruelty but this has been restored for the DVD). All of these scenes are done via several chapters that each tells a story in which Andrei Rublev is present either as the central character of focus, a participant or an observer. If you pay close attention to the chapters you will realize that the themes of each chapter are contained in all the chapters. Tarvoksky plays with the audience in so many ways that you can only hope to watch the film again and again until you make ALL of the connections. You will likely not see a more striking film for imagery. The ending is obviously what got Kubrick working on his trip scene in 2001. Tarkovsky returned a nod by filming Solaris.
Andrei Rublev is shot in monochrome although the ending does a little Wizard of Oz for us. The story is divided between two discs. You have 86 minutes in the first disc and 99 in the second for a grand running time of 185 minutes. This DVD is PRICEY but this is Kino Art at its finest and worth every penny. The extras are many and there are some very important historical interviews about Tarkovsky. However I will say that DVD is totally unsuitable for Tarkovsky's films and possibly you will do better to watch a widescreen video or even better a 35mm print of the film in the cinema next time it comes to town. Even though the transfer is sublime for a 1966 picture (a Russian one at that) and there has been a lot of digital correction, the DVD produces artefacts on nearly all of Tarkovsky's films because of his complex imagery, but this is just quibbling and is not the fault of the DVD producers. Tarkovsky has simply exceeded the limits of what DVD mpeg compression can handle, even after this film is spanned over 2 discs... and that says a lot about the quality of this man's vision.
Kino Art does not come much better than Andrei Rublev.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but slow paced and not for everybody., April 8 2004
By 
Ted "Ted" (Pennsylvania, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Andrei Rublev (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film. This film, like many of Tarkovsky's movies are slow-paced. This may bore some, but Tarkovsky viewed many his films as a form of art as opposed to entertainment.
Most people like movies that entertain, but not all films do that. I am a longtime fan of Russian cinema and find this to be a good example of "art house" cinema.
This movie contains some scenes that some persons may find unsettling. There is a scene where a man kicks a dog to death, a scene of a horse falling down a set of stairs breaking its leg, and another where a cow is on fire. There is also nudity.
The film itself was banned in the Soviet Union, but later released in a heavily cut version. The film has many religious references and quotes from the Bible. (The subtitles on the Criterion Collection DVD use the King James Version for translation of the Bible which is my favorite.)
The film follows the story of real life 14th-15th century icon painter Andrei Rublev. Not knowing too much about him, I cannot give a clear comparison between the film and his life. The movie is well photographed and has an excellend full color sequence at the end of the film showing his acutal paintings.
The Criterion Collection DVD has numerous special features.
Interview with director Andrei Tarkovsky, Improved Subtitles, A timeline showing events of Russian history, and the works and life events of Andrei Rublev and Tarkovsky. There is also a partial length audio essay during certain chapters on the DVD track that conform with the scenes the narrator is talking about.
The booklet lists these tracks so one would not need to view the whole film to search for the commentary.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Revelation in Contemplation, Dec 6 2003
By 
Jason Robey "horakhti" (Silver Spring, MD USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Andrei Rublev (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
I had never seen a Tarkovsky film before "Andrei Rublev", but I intend to see more. This film was *very* different, but very good, and I was moved by it on many different levels.
Set in Russia in the early 15th century, this film is based on the life of Andrei Rublev, an icon painter and arguably Russia's first great artist. It's told in a series of vignettes that don't always focus on Rublev; many times he is either a background observer or not involved at all. He is a device that Tarkovsky uses to tell a grander tale, a tale about art, life, humanity, history, faith, good, evil and other philosophical ideas that most filmmakers fear like the plague. This film is much more than a historical epic, it is a work of art, and possibly more than that a path to enlightenment.
Like many of the greatest directors, Tarkovsky is more than just a filmmaker. He is an ARTIST, possibly more so than any director I've ever encountered. For example, most directors use techniques like music and editing to elicit specific emotions from the audience, but Tarkovsky uses few to no manipulative devices. Scenes are typically wide, sweeping, epic shots, which often linger for up to several minutes. The viewer is allowed to absorb the situation and the imagery, to internalize them and let them sink into the subconscious. If one is still and contemplative, one will enter into a dialogue with the film and begin to experience it on a higher level.
The film lacks a tightly knit plot, and there's no pat morality tale. Rather it is LIFE, boiled down to its essence. Scenes feel real, and often play out in real time according to the rhythm of life. Characters will sit and wait, and we wait with them. Incidents unfold in real time, with no cuts and nothing edited. Tarkovsky uses the natural world a great deal. For instance, a character will chance upon the carcass of a snow-white egret mired in the swamp, or a somber procession will scale a snowy embankment where the mud has bled through like a pair of weeping eyes.
It's a work of art, I've established that, but I also love the historical setting. Fifteenth century Russia was grim and unforgiving. Orthodox Christianity was the official religion, but paganism was still commonplace. Boyars, kings and princes frequently skirmished with one another. Tartars from the south took advantage of the regional instability to sack villages and cities. Plague and sickness were rampant, and the vast majority of people lived in abject poverty. But the so-called "Dark Ages" were nearly at an end. Art and ideas from West were steadily infiltrating the East. Rublev himself was inspired by a Greek painter named Theophanes, a relationship depicted in the film. Tarkovsky captures the period perfectly in "Andrei Rublev", and to me it seems like the next thing to being there.
Having said ALL that, I cannot in good conscience recommend this film to most people. Here are all the reasons a modern filmgoer probably would not like "Andrei Rublev": it was filmed in black and white; it's old (originally released in 1966); it's long (the unedited Criterion release is nearly 3 and a 1/2 hours); it's in Russian with subtitles; at least one animal was brutally killed during the filming (for which there is NO excuse - shame on Tarkovsky); scenes linger for several minutes without cuts or editing; it's arty (though not pretentious); it's very difficult to understand; it requires repeated viewings and you may never fully "get it"; it's told in a series of vignettes with only a loose overarching narrative; etc., etc. If none of that scares you off, you should definitely check it out, because it's a real gem.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Faith and Fallibility..., July 25 2003
By 
This review is from: Andrei Rublev (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Andrei Rublev is a unique and challenging masterpiece set in Medieval Russia, loosely based on the life of a real monk renowned for his Icon paintings. Starkly and beautifully photographed in black and white, its austere settings and classic compositions as well as its depiction of an earlier, simpler Christian faith struggling amid paganism, cruelty and barbarism in those brutish times, reminded me of and compared favorably to Bergman's similar explorations in The Virgin Spring and The Seventh Seal. Tarkovsky's film, however,is completely his own, presented in an elliptical and episodic structure, at times enigmatic, sometimes disjointed and loose, often poetic and fanciful.
Opening with a sequence unconnected to the remainder of the story, unless as a metaphor, yet wonderfully strange and evocative, the film then follows the travels of some monk/artisans, eventually centering on the title character, Andrei Rublev, whose work is described by one of his envious companions as beautiful yet empty, missing something at its center. This notion of unfullfillment in faith and belief and art and the social construct will run throughout the film.
The Christianity of these monk/artists is shown by turns as one of the few lights of charity and gentleness in a brutal and cruel age, and in the next instance as repressive and intolerant and narrow-minded, austere and indifferent to the natural life of humankind. The struggle for faith and meaning, and to what use one is to put not only their faith but their talent and artistry in a world of atrbitrary power & indifferent injustice, of pagan bliss and casual barbarity, are central themes in the film. In fact, faith and art are interchangeable in Tarkovsky's film, the struggle for meaning and purpose in art and how that fits in an, at times, monstrous world is the same as the struggle for meaning and purpose in religious faith, too often suppressed and overrun by the ambitions and passions of the secular world. That artistry and spirituality are at the mercy of the crassness and indifference of power is startling demonstrated with the blinding of the artisans.
Tarkovsky doesn't shrink from the brutality of the era while showing us that ignorance and suppression have a long history in human history. Amazing that he created such a film in the Soviet Union of the 1960's. This is a film with bold and shocking scenes alongside poetic and sublime passages. One could write pages describing the imagery and composition of Tarkovsky's great vision. Suffice it to say that this long, yet entrancing film is rich with very different settings, scenes and ideas. It is world class cinema, well worth the time of those interested in something beyond simple entertainment. 5 Stars all the way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Epic Erotic Potboiler!, June 19 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Andrei Rublev (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
A film so great and so original as to inspire writers to impossible heights of language to describe its genius is also a film which requires its audience to learn a new filmic language in which to fully appreciate it.
I prefer to watch this film alone, with no sound, letting the images and movements utterly absorb me, without any thinking or attempts to contextualize the work whatsoever, setting the disc on "auto-shuffle" to emphasize this point. Try it!
Watching this film with another person, especially someone who has not seen it, can prove problematic, however. Explain to them that the next scene will be a sex scene (you will, in a very real sense, be right). Use the title of my review if you must. But share it all the same.
Then watch it the way you like best again, for this film, like a great novel, merits and indeed insists upon multiple viewings--it is truly a universe unto itself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars just an opinion, April 27 2003
By 
vlad (hollywood, florida United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Andrei Rublev (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
this is probably the best movie ever made.
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5.0 out of 5 stars profound and beautiful cinema, March 22 2003
By 
drollere (Sebastopol, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Andrei Rublev (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
the sheer breadth and scope of this movie is hard to put into words. it is structured as several interrelated short or extended episodes, extending in time across almost a decade, each related in some way to a medieval russian icon painter. some are almost vignettes (the opening sequence of a balloon flight), and others are complete stories in themselves (the concluding bellmaking episode). the violence, disorder, superstition and solemnity of medieval russia are in the background, but the focus is on a handful of characters who search for the meaning of life on earth. the film is surprisingly open ended, punctuated with beautiful and sometimes repeated symbols, emotionally rich, and ultimately ambiguous. it is quite long -- i needed three sittings to finish -- but also worth viewing more than once. next to "solaris," this is my favorite tarkovsky. the supplementary materials are valuable and it's delightful the publishers could pack everything on a single disk.
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5.0 out of 5 stars profound and beautiful cinema, March 22 2003
By 
drollere (Sebastopol, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Andrei Rublev (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
the sheer breadth and scope of this movie is hard to put into words. it is structured as several interrelated short or extended episodes, extending in time across almost a decade, each related in some way to a medieval russian icon painter. some are almost vignettes (the opening sequence of a balloon flight), and others are complete stories in themselves (the concluding bellmaking episode). the violence, disorder, superstition and solemnity of medieval russia are in the background, but the focus is on a handful of characters who search for the meaning of life on earth. the film is surprisingly open ended, punctuated with beautiful and sometimes repeated symbols, emotionally rich, and ultimately ambiguous. this film is quite long -- it took me three sittings to finish -- but also worth viewing more than once. next to "solaris," this is my favorite tarkovsky. the supplementary materials are valuable and it's delightful the publishers could pack everything on a single disk.
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Andrei Rublev (The Criterion Collection)
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