Saturday, January 15, 2011

Andrei Rublev

After how taxing Stalker was, I was worried about how difficult Andrei Tarkovsky's historical opus Andrei Rublev would be to get through, being nearly an hour longer. Luckily, it was relatively easy to watch, considering the obscure subject matter and expansive running time. The trade-off is that it wasn't nearly as gripping, but you take what you can get. The film is about the titular Russian painter, who worked mostly in icons and lived during a turbulent period in his country's history. Despite taking place six hundred years ago, the subject matter was apparently still pretty touchy for the Russian government, as the film wasn't available in its full uncut form for years after it came out in the 60s. From what I've read the movie is more accurate when it comes to the historical content than the actual life of its central figure, and while it's easy to stop paying attention while watching it, if you focus there's some pretty interesting stuff there.

The movie is chopped up into a bunch of segments showing various periods in Rublev's life, making it feel more like a quick miniseries than a long movie, which helps make it as easy to watch as it is. A lot of time is spent with Andrei discussing philosophy and life with people he comes across, but what was most notable to me about the film is its more controversial content. I may just be forgetting something here, but it's the earliest real film I can think of featuring nudity (and not just a little bit of it), and it's also pretty violent in areas, including an infamous scene that required the actual death of a horse to film. As shallow as it might seem, it helps keep a movie that otherwise seems a bit aware of its own importance interesting. I appreciate the scale and skill behind the accomplishment, I just wasn't nearly as intrigued by it as I was by the Tarkovsky movie I just watched. One of those movies I'm glad to be able to say I've seen, but that I'm not exactly ready to watch again soon.

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