Take a Drink: whenever somebody acts a fool
Take a Drink: for each new chapter
Take a Drink: for persecution
Take a Drink: for horses (honestly, this could be the whole game)
Do a Shot: for animal cruelty
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Andrei Tarkovsky may not have the household name recognition of Stanley Kubrick, but if any of his contemporary directors could be compared to him, it was him. Both painted on big canvasses, were known for their equally epic runtimes and masterful imagery, but used epic sweep to examine smaller, more personal truths (even though they were about as diametrically opposed as possible philosophy-wise). And, of course, both of them made gorgeous space-based mindfucks with Solaris and 2oo1: A Space Odyssey respectively.
Acid: Optional, but strongly discouraged.
Andrei Rublev is Tarkovksy’s most straightforward film, a biopic of sorts about the 15th century icon painter- the finest of his time- told in an allegorical seven chapter structure, following Rublev from young monk to aging master.
Tarkovsky has a reputation for being opaque, but the unique structure of this film, while it occasionally seems to stray, keeps him on track storywise. The chapters, ranging from a pagan Saturnalia to Christ’s Crucifixion (perhaps the most striking version ever filmed) to the legitimately hellish sack of Vladimir by Tartars and Russian traitors to an extended parable of a young man who assures the Prince that he can cast him a huge bell. All work together to show how the deeply sensitive, humanistic Rublev was impacted by his experiences and environment during his artistic evolution, taking time to delve into matters of faith, good vs. evil, the human and the divine, and the holy and the profane. It’s a beautiful inquiry into how philosophy influences art.
This accessibility makes Andrei Rublev the best place to start with Tarkovsky, but his mind-bending technical flair is still very much on display. The film’s full of gorgeous, sharply-framed black and white photography (except for a full color epilogue displaying Rublev’s signature works), rich with symbolism. Every inch of the frame, cluttered or blank, and how people and objects move within it, is fraught with meaning.
Horses = Life, if you’re wondering why they’re so damn many of them.
Tarkovsky also uses sound design, from overt, purposeful dubbing that feels like something from a Terrence Malick movie to music diagetic and non, to immerse you in the reality of the film, but it’s a heightened reality, otherworldly, alternating between unnerving, elegiac, and a bone-deep sense of melancholy.
A last tip of the glass to Anatoly Solonitsyn’s central performance, his first in a long, fruitful partnership with Tarkovsky. You can see why the director favored him, as he displays all of these emotions and a lifetime of experience with a glance. It’s written on a face, a visual director’s dream.
Constipated. Nailed it, Robbie boy.
Whatever cut of the film you see (for the record, Tarkovsky endorsed the standard 186 minute release) is quite long, and not always focused on its title character. The script seems to go on a lot of tangents, but comes together in the end- wait for it. There’s also more than a little animal cruelty on display, which, again, makes thematic sense, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch.
The video title sort of says it all (no cows, but plenty of horses, harmed in the making of this film).
Andrei Rublev is Andrei Tarkovsky’s most accessible film, a primer for his more legendarily avant garde works to follow, but no less a masterpiece than any of them.