director Andrei Tarkovsky
It took me a long time to getting around to seeing any Andrei Tarkovsky films, despite his notability. Even after watching his film Solaris (1972) which I did almost a decade ago, it took almost that length of time for me to get around to another. But after watching Stalker (1979), I was sold. Stalker was one of the best films I saw last year and it’s only continued to linger in my mind. So, I thought it was high time to get around to more of Tarkovsky’s films.
Netflix has long suggested Andrei Rublev to me, but let’s face it, a 3 1/2 hour film about the life of Russia’s greatest icon painter? A general description of the story certainly doesn’t do justice to what a fine movie it really is. It’s a complex film, a film about art and the artist, Russia and religion, mostly set in the 1500’s.
I can’t fully do the film justice here myself. The black and white cinematography is amazing. Tarkovsky has a keen eye for the natural world, certainly true in all three of his films that I’ve seen. It’s a muddy, rainy, brutal world for Andrei Rublev, one in which the artist exists as perhaps the most holy calling, though one also deeply imbued with ego and self-conflict. The artist is also significantly at the whims of his employers or patrons, a visionary who can float above the Earth only to crash and die.
When I sat down to watch Andrei Rublev it was late and I figured I would watch it in chunks over a couple of evenings. But I found myself so engrossed that I watched it through its full duration deep into the night.
It’s a film that is indeed quite amazing. It’s one on many best films of all times lists out there with good reason. Even now, several days after having watched it, I am still thinking through it, reflectively, without a fully completed sensibility. It’s still a 3 1/2 hour film about an icon painter. Which is why I imagine it’s never going to be the most watched film of all. But Tarkovsky is a master of cinema. I will need to see more of his films.