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Film / Andrei Rublev

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Andrei Rublev (or "The Passion According to Andrei") is a 1966 film by Andrei Tarkovsky, co-written by Tarkovsky and Andrei Konchalovsky. It is 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:

  • Art Shift: The film finally goes colorful at the end.
  • The Atoner: Andrei, after killing a man in defense of Durochka.
    • Also Kirill, who spends his last days copying scripture as penance for his jealousy-driven fit of rage.
  • 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.
  • Bittersweet Ending: At the end, Andrei relents his vow of silence (literal and artistic) and goes on to paint his most famous icons. However, there's no doubt that he remained emotionally scarred for life after all of the devastation and cruelty that he witnessed first-hand.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: After the attack on the cathedral, Patrikei screams in pain while being tortured with fire to reveal the location of gold, which he refuses to do so. Eventually, he has molten metal from his cross poured into his mouth and dragged out of the cathedral with a horse.
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  • Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: When the group around Rublev is boating on a river, they spot Marfa and Fyodor chased by the soldiers on the shore. Rublev orders Sergei, the young boy in the group, not to look at this, before an older woman grabs him and covers his eyes.
  • Death Is Dramatic:
    • The death of Rublev's young apprentice Foma. During the Tartar assault, he gets hit by an arrow in the back. We see him tumble in slow-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.
  • Elective Mute: 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.
  • Eye Scream: Getting your eyes gouged out by someone's knife counts.
  • Le Film Artistique: A shining example.
  • The Fool: Durochka.
  • Gorn: Quite potent for a film of the period. There's a cow being set on fire, a horse falling down from a flight of stairs, and a man tortured and murdered by having molten metal poured into his mouth.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Kirill's breakdown is driven by his realization that in contrast to Andrei, he has no artistic talent.
  • Heroic BSoD: Andrei, after hearing the news about the ambush in the woods. Also, after the massacre in cathedral, which causes him to stop painting and become deliberately mute for many years.
  • High Hopes, Zero Talent: Kirill is a tragic example of this when he realizes how untalented he is, since his only ambition in life was to be a great icon painter.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: 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: The pagan girl Marfa. Averted with Durochka due to her mental illness and slovenly appearance.
  • Kick the Dog: When Kirill leaves the monastery, his dog catches up to him, only for Kirill to beat him to death with his walking stick out of rage.
  • Meaningful Name: "Durochka" means "little fool."
  • The Middle Ages: A very accurate and unflinching depiction.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: There are two main scenes of animals being injured - a cow burning alive, and a horse with a broken leg falling down some stairs. The cow was unharmed, wearing a fireproof blanket that was set alight. The horse, though, was purchased from a slaughterhouse and the fall was real. Tarkovsky maintained it was heavily tranquilized, and was immediately shot after the cut. There is also a scene where a man beats his dog to death, although we never see the dog being actually hit on camera.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Rublev imagines a conversation with the dead Theophanes the Greek, in which the latter jumps places offscreen.
  • Old Master: Theophanes the Greek.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Yuri Nikulin, one of the most beloved actors and clowns in the Soviet Union, in his role as Patrikei the messenger.
    • Although he has a brief scene in the final act of the film, Rolan Bykov shines as the "skomorokh" (jester) in the film's first act.
  • The Plague: Killed the parents of Boriska and most of the rest of his village.
  • 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. He spends the rest of his life regretting his actions and trying to atone for them.