Thursday, January 28, 2010

ANDREI RUBLEV (Russian) (1966)

Words are not suffice to explain the experience. If I have to describe Tarkovsky’s this exceptional masterpiece in one line I would say ‘the epic poetry of screen which never withers with time.’ In fact with all my heart and mind I must say that it’s a kind of epic I would love to see repeatedly till I die. AR demands audience’s complete absorption to the cinematic medium in order to seize the complete essence of the film and it’s this reason why one has to watch it at least few times.

The film opens almost poetically where we see a man named Yefim flying in the balloon, witnessing panoramic view of Russian country life and the brilliant symbolic fall…It reminds me of Fellini’s brilliant opening sequence of 8 ½ .

The film is divided in two parts consists with eight short tales showing us the life journey of Andrei Rublev, the early 15th century Russian monk who became master of icon painting. The spiritual and historical theme of the film touches the umbilical chord between man & God, man & nature, physical world & internal world. It’s hard to chose a single part among all but my favorite one are ‘Theophanus the Greek’ and ‘The Andrei Passion’. It’s this part which invokes philosophical undertones running throughout the journey full of good Vs bad, right Vs wrong, faith Vs rationalism.

“You’ll penetrate the crux of everything if you describe it truthfully,” said Theophanus the Greek quoting Konstantin Kostechensky to disturbed Kirill. It’s scene which reminds me our Bhagvad Gita where Lord Krishna gave discourse to Arjuna. It’s Theophanus who became spiritual guide and told the bitter truths of life to Rublev & Kirill both but its Rublev who understood it gradually and we witness it in ‘The Last Judgement’ part where Rublev realized that having faith and knowledge isn’t enough, it required ‘Love’ to accomplish eternity in painting because everything fails in time and space’s boundary but not love. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.

Tarkovsky ignited so many spiritual questions invoking the theme of redemption along with Rublev’s simultaneously running internal spiritual journey seeking the higher truth Vs external journey witnessing dark events of Tartar invaders’ brutality, natural calamities like severe famine and plague, dark pagan religious customs. Perhaps Rublev’s struggle is too internal and silent rhapsody than Bresson’s country priest since he didn’t have a diary to note confession! Everything is internalized. How Tarkovsky managed so many themes in a single film? A very few artists can create such a grand aestheticism without proclaiming his own subjectivity. I was just wondering why Rublev’s any painting wasn’t shown throughout the film until I witness the final grand tour of frescoes in colors showing mystic greatness of his art.

Mesmerizing and almost mystic black & white camerawork of Vadim Yusov is indeed cinematic ode to natural landscapes and old ruined buildings and it’s a deeply moving account of images. You won’t find a single frame in the film which excludes aesthetic beauty. Anatoli Solonitsyn as Rublev and Ivan Lapikov as Kirill are some of the most touching characters I’ve ever seen or felt. Apart of characters Horse is also a significant symbol throughout the film and may be in next watch I’ll try to fathom it.

AR is a grand epic and almost three hours long in duration but believe me its worth true to its salt. Watch this film with all your senses and yeah even if you don’t watch it at the stretch, try to introspect more… feeling this film requires it more than anything else.

PS- Again I crossed the bar for writing this long review but epic film of this scale demands epic review too, isn’t it?


Luv said...

I am beginning to like your reviews more and more. Once again very well written.

But Hiren, almost 3 hours? Guess you did not get to see the full length version, 205 minutes. You must locate it and watch, the film would touch on more points than the almost 3 hour version can even imagine. It is sad how much the film had been censored both in USSR & US, though for different reasons.

I think AR is what is called total cinema, capturing the whole Russian reality of 15th century. Though what appeals to me, more than the spiritual aspects of AR, is its parallel to the life of Tarkovsky, both worked for a government they did not believe in, and both rebelled using their arts in unique ways.

The political subtexts meant a lot of censor in USSR, I wonder how Tarkovsky managed to pull tis film off. If only he could have found the kind of backing that Sergei Bondarchuk got from the Soviets.

Yes, I agree with you, an epic demands more. :)

Luv said...

See, i forgot in the prev. comment, another wonderful thing about Tarkovsky is the use of animals in the film. Don't you think Russians are really good at that?

Though this sort of cruelty wont be allowed today.

HIREN DAVE said... of the fine long comment on my blog...well, m so desperate to read at least one comment on this post since i took so much pain to write it...

I crave for more n more of Tarkovsky & other Russian cinema after watching just junior to Russian films.Lemme know abt some essential titles i have to watch..
Even i think that Tarkovsky used almost everything in the film with essence thats abstract to put in words..the symbolic way touse is one in AR..

Didn't know abt 205 min version till u enlightened me...will surely catch that one next time...

Keep posting your wonderful comments...

Luv said...

As if I know much!

Anyways, I think Eisenstein & Tarkovsky tower above all film-makers from the Soviet. Other than Tarkovsky's cinema, my favs are Einsenstein's Ivan the Terible, and War & Peace (costliest film ever, if i remember rite) by Bondarchuk. Bondarchuk never even approached those heights again.