The Holiday (1408)
Several years later, Andrei is travelling with the guild (group of artists and assistants) he has formed, including Danila, Foma, Piotr, and Sergei (a young blond boy). They camp for the night on a river bank. It is St. John's Eve, and the local peasants are engaging in a pagan celebration. Andrei is fascinated, and plunges into the woods to investigate. He witnesses a woman (Marfa) making love in the woods. He comes across a witch in a cabin. He spys on her while she performs witchcraft. He is seized by 3 pagan men. Monks and priests are persecuting the pagans at this time, so they tie him up, telling him they will murder him in the morning. The witch approaches Andrei and asks him why he was threathening the pagan men with hellfire. They discuss the morality of the pagan religion. The witch kisses Andrei passionately. He is torn between his arousal and his vow of chastity. She frees him, he runs from her, then stops. They face each other. Cut to the next morning.
(One thing I started debating while writing my paper - did Andrei sleep with the witch? I don't think there's any concrete evidence on way or the other, but it's definitely a possibility.)
Andrei finds his way back to his camp, and refuses to discuss what happened with his best friend, Danila (feeling guilty?). As they continue traveling down the river, a group of soldiers and monks are persecuting the pagans on the river bank. Marfa, the woman Andrei saw in the woods, and her lover are being pursued and beaten. Andrei tells the young Sergei not to look.
(Anyone ever notice that one of the persecutors is Kirill? I didn't until this past weekend and I've seen the film a number of times. Very subtle.)
The witch also appears, swimming naked across the river to escape her pursuers. She swins inches away from Andrei's passing boat. He doesn't lift a finger to help her, even though she saved his life the previous night (and perhaps even slept with him).
The Last Judgement (1408): Andrei has been commissioned to paint the cathedral at Vladimir by the Grand Prince. But he is suffering from a crisis of faith, and can't bring himself to start the mural of the Last Judgement, a vision of hellfire and brimstone. The Grand Prince, the bishop, and Andrei's guild are all frustrated by his procrastination. Andrei's creative block is likely due to guilt regarding his actions during St. John's Eve. He tells Danila, "I don't want to scare people," and this is what the pagan witch accused Andrei of - scaring simple people into believing in Christianity. Tired of waiting for work, Foma leaves Andrei's guild.
Andrei is summoned to a meeting with the Grand Prince. There he plays with and recites scripture to the Grand Prince's daughter. He also meets Stepan, the Grand Prince's Captain of the Guard, and the masons who have been building the Grand Prince a mansion. Stepan is critical of the masons work. The masons inform the Grand Prince they have accepted a contract to build a mansion for his younger brother and are leaving immediately for Zvenigorod. Later we learn of the severe sibling rivalry between these two. Stepan, angry at the masons for humiliating his master, ambushes them with his troops and has them all blinded with swords. Andrei's young assistant, Sergei, was travelling with the masons, and is spared. He returns to Vladimir and informs Andrei of what has transpired. In sorrow and rage, Andrei splatters the white walls of the cathedral with mud (or paint, perhaps?). He instructs Sergei to read the Bible aloud. A "Holy Fool" (a madwoman) enters the cathedral. When she sees the dirtied wall, she breaks into tears. In the Middle Ages, mad people were thought to be blessed, and it was bad luck to harm them (this drives a lot of the key plot points later). Andrei walks out into a rainstorm to pray, followed by the Holy Fool. Danila understands that Andrei is still suffering from the guilt regarding St. John's Eve. "Leave him alone," he says. "Let God's servant repent."
If you found this helpful, let me know and I'll work on Part Two.