I want to like Andrei Rublev...

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I want to like Andrei Rublev...

Postby saratw2 » Sun Dec 14, 2003 4:30 pm

I just started watching this film. I am so puzzled and I don't know who anyone is or where the film is going. Last night I watched about 1/4th of it and stopped because I didn't know what was going on. Today I started the film over and got to the same spot and stopped.

The black and white photography is beautiful. As is the rain. And the faces.

But what is going on?

I'm not giving up. I am going to watch the whole thing, but could someone help me with the plot and the things I should be seeing?

Re: I want to like Andrei Rublev...

Postby Mik » Sun Dec 14, 2003 8:56 pm

I recommend you to see all the film and then you can ask any questions about it.
It's about medeival Russian icon painter Andrey Rublev.
He leaves his monastery to go to another one and paint icons for the new temple.

Re: I want to like Andrei Rublev...

Postby auteur » Sun Dec 14, 2003 11:02 pm

This is not a film for those concerned with plot, or narrative logic. This is a film for true lovers of the medium, who recognize cinema as a visual medium, not a conduit to storytelling. To make a correlation between cinema and literature, [i]Andrei Rublev[/i] is closest to poetry. It needs to be approached as a poem. Now I watch it without subs, as to not to get distracted from the images.

Re: I want to like Andrei Rublev...

Postby gratefultiger » Sun Dec 14, 2003 11:42 pm

Saratw2 don't give up on this Supreme work as it is a true
classic & you don't have to be religious to see it is about faith.Poetic,magical,brutal at times,but should be seen by anyone who needs to know what first rank cinema is all about.have we ever seen a film that evokes the times as well? The grainy photography,the mud,rain,snow,the churches
must be medieval Russia. The Bell sequence is worth the price alone.Verdict 10 stars!

Re: I want to like Andrei Rublev...

Postby saratw2 » Mon Dec 15, 2003 10:49 am

Thanks for the encouragement. I am sticking with it and will just let the film speak to me without trying to get a plot - just letting the images and poetry wash over me.


Re: I want to like Andrei Rublev...

Postby groom_daniel » Mon Dec 15, 2003 7:46 pm

"This is a film for true lovers of the medium, who recognize cinema as a visual medium, not a conduit to storytelling." - As a scriptwriting major, this makes my head spin.

Here is the plot for the first half of the film, from All Movie Guide:

"Commissioned to paint the interior of the Vladimir cathedral, Andrei Rublev (Anatoli Solonitsyn) leaves the Andronnikov monastery with an entourage of monks and assistants, witnessing in his travels the degradations befalling his fellow Russians, including pillage, oppression from tyrants and Mongols, torture, rape, and plague. Faced with the brutalities of the world outside the religious enclave, Rublev's faith is shaken, prompting him to question the uses or even possibility of art in a degraded world. After Mongols sack the city of Vladimir, burning the very cathedral that he has been commissioned to paint, Rublev takes a vow of silence and withdraws completely, removing himself to the hermetic confines of the monastery."

Re: I want to like Andrei Rublev...

Postby zenbunny » Mon Dec 15, 2003 11:23 pm

I love Tarkovsky (particularly Stalker) and was very saddened that I didn't connect with this film at all.

Re: I want to like Andrei Rublev...

Postby auteur » Tue Dec 16, 2003 7:26 pm

groom_daniel's criticism of my statement is valid, in that [i]Andrei Rublev[/i] has a plot. But plot that has little to do with the deeper aims and reach of this poetic and metaphorical masterpiece.

Re: I want to like Andrei Rublev...

Postby ehonauer-1 » Wed Dec 17, 2003 8:40 pm

I'm posting this in several parts - too big to do at once!

I actually spent the past four days writing a paper on Andrei Rublev. The plot can be hard to follow if you're not paying close attention, but there's nothing I haven't been able to figure out after repeated viewings. I tend to notice new things every time I watch it. Tarkovsky doesn't do the little exposition cues we're trained to expect from movies - he just puts it out there, like life, and you have to make sense of it. There are uneven time gaps between the chapters, a fade in and out and 2 years have passed, which can be a little disorienting.

Here are some synopses of Part One. Contains SPOILERS, so if you haven't seen it, don't read it!

Prologue: Yefim takes flight in a balloon while an angry mob attacks his assistants. We infer that Yefim is an inventor, and the angry mob is unhappy with his aerial experiments due to ignorance or superstition. Yefim's experimental balloon crashes, killing him. This segment's events and characters are unconnected to the rest of the film, it just sets up several of the themes nicely.

The Jester (1400): Andrei Rublev, Danila Chorny, and Kirill are three monks who leave their monastery for Moscow (ostensibly to gain experience painting). They take shelter from a rainstorm in a barn, where a jester is performing for a crowd. Two soldiers arrive and arrest the jester (someone has denounced him - can you guess who?). This sets up a repeating theme: those who are creative, inventive, or freethinking are the subject of great persecution in this medieval society.

Theophanes the Greek (1405-1406): Five years later, Kirill seeks out the famous icon painter Theophanes the Greek. Kirill is awestruck by Theophanes's skill. The painter enjoys Kirill's flattery and offers him a position as his assistant. Theophanes has heard of Rublev, as his reputation as an artist is spreading, and it is evident that Kirill is jealous of Andrei. He will accept Theophanes's offer only if it is made publically before the members of his religous order - most importantly in front of Rublev. Obviously Kirill has some self-esteem issues. When Theophanes finally does send a messenger to the monastery to request an assistant, he asks for Rublev. This sends Kirill into a jealous rage. Andrei's friend Danila is insulted because Andrei accepts Theophanes' offer without discussing it with him. That evening, Danila and Andrei resolve their disagreement, while Kirill stews angerily in his room. Kirill gets so worked up that he tells off the entire group, accusing them of worldly pursuits, when he's really just consumed with jealousy. He abandons the order and reenters secular life.

Andrei and his lazy assistant Foma begin to work with Theophanes the Greek. Andrei and Theophanes disagree on the purpose of art - Theophanes espouses a medieval form of the "art for art's sake" argument. He creates for God, not for people. He thinks the masses are ignorant and not worth bothering with. Andrei takes a more humanist approach, and takes pity on the suffering of the Russian people. He offers a personal interpretation of the Passion of Christ, which is depicted on-screen in a Russian winter setting.

Re: I want to like Andrei Rublev...

Postby ehonauer-1 » Wed Dec 17, 2003 8:41 pm

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.


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