Film: Andrei Rublev

Andrei Rublev (or "The Passion According to Andrei") is a 1966 film by Andrei Tarkovsky, loosely based on the life of Russia's famous icon painter of the same name. It is the movie that launched the director to international attention after its warm reception at the Cannes film festival.

The movie is notable for its troubled production and numerous issues with the Soviet Union's strict censorship board. It is Tarkovsky's longest and most violent film, and was only available in heavily cut versions until the Criterion Collection DVD release in 1999, which restored the film to its original 205 minute run time.

As with most Tarkovsky films, it eschews a traditional narrative structure, relying on episodic vignettes that take place around the life of Rublev, with the man himself often taking a backseat to the actions on screen depicting the time. Interestingly, the film never once depicts Andrei Rublev painting, and is entirely in black and white until an ending montage of Rublev's work in blazing color. It is quite depressing, but also considered to be a shining example of one of the 20th century's greatest creative minds at the height of his power.

This film provides examples of:

  • Author Avatar: Andrei Rublev himself struggles with many of the same crises of faith and art that Tarkovsky did
  • The Atoner: Andrei, after killing a man in defense of Durochka
  • Art Shift: The film finally goes colorful at the end.
  • Biopic: Averted. While the film does fall into this genre, the movie is actually ABOUT the relationship between art and faith, not Andrei Rublev's life.
  • Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: When the group around Rublev is boating on a river, they spot Marfa, the Pagan girl, chased by soldiers at the shore. When she gets naked to escape swimming, an older woman jumps over to Sergei, the blond boy in the group, and covers his ears and eyes.
  • Death Is Dramatic:
    • The death of Rublov's young apprentice Foma. During the Tartar assault, he gets hit by an arrow in the back. We see him tumble in slo-mo until he finally falls over into the river and is carried away by the currents.
    • Also the reenactment of Christ's Crucifixion.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Though black and white film was probably used to partially save money on a long and extravagant film, it was not a necessity demonstrated by the ending montage.
  • The Dung Ages: Medieval Russia, evidently, was not fun.
  • Eye Scream: Getting your eyes gouged out by someone's spurs counts.
  • The Fool: Durochka.
  • Gorn: Quite potent for a film of the period. There's a cow being set on fire, and a horse with a broken leg getting rolled down a flight of stairs.
  • Infant Immortality: On a path through the woods soldiers accost the artisans on the orders of the Grand Prince and gouge their eyes out. The only person coming out unharmed is the young boy Sergei.
  • Informed Ability: Rublev is never, ever shown actually picking up a brush to paint.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Averted with Durochka.
  • Le Film Artistique: a shining example.
  • Meaningful Name: "Durochka" means "little fool."
  • The Middle Ages: A very accurate and unflinching depiction.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Mostly played straight, with one unfortunate aversion. One scene depicts the real death of a horse which had been purchased by the filmmakers from a slaughterhouse.
    • according to other evidences a cow has been burned alive on the set.
    • The cow was wearing a fireproof blanket, to make it look like it was burning alive when it actually wasn't. The horse, though — that one was real.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Rublov imagines a conversation with the dead Theophanes the Greek, in which the latter jumps places offscreen.
  • Old Master: Theophanes the Greek.
  • The Plague: Killed the parents of Boriska.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: While on the way to Moscow, a horde of Mongol-Tatars decide to prey on the undefended town of Vladimir. Men are cut down and shot with arrows, thatched roofs are set aflame, women of all ages are raped; general pandemonium ensues. The majority of the townfolk barricade themselves in the town's cathedral. What makes it so heinous is that they are being guided by a pretender to the Moscovian throne and many Russians are among their ranks.
  • Scenery Porn
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Fellow monk Kirill, after losing a prominent commission to Andrei.
  • The Voiceless: To atone for killing a man, Andrei decides to give up painting and takes a vow of silence. It takes 15 years until he breaks his silence, in the scene where he comforts the young bellmaker.