Precious Bodily Fluids

Andrei Rublev

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A quick list of the most epic epics would have to include (but of course not be limited to): Ran, Lawrence of Arabia, 1900, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Seven Samurai, Apocalypse Now and Andrei Rublev. Not only is a more abbreviated blog format striking my fancy, but justice couldn’t begin to be done to a film like this in any essay, let alone one “published” here. Thus, some notes: poetry, allegory, biography, and, for lack of a better term, “pure art”; a film about art and an artist crafted by an art poet; a film that is, fittingly, the favorite of my college English prof. An aside: why is there so often the urge – unavoidable, really – to elevate through language a work that transcends it and – whether or not it transcends it – speaks for itself? Does this inevitably cheapen the work and all others, rendering them merely the impetus for catharsis, the trigger of the sublime within me, the subject? Is that a “cheapening”? However those questions are answered, and despite the reality that Andrei Rublev can and should be subject to critical scrutiny, in the end there is just the film in all its glory and power. When one -or at least, this subject – listens to Andrei Tarkovsky himself comment on the film and its meaning, the great director himself comes up severely lacking. His summarized interpretation is comparable to describing an ocean as “wet” or the sun as “bright.” It seems to be less of an injustice to restrict this discourse to the film’s influences, backwards and forwards. These are intuitive and reflexive, so only possibly legitimate; backwards: Lang, Eisenstein, Griffith, Kurosawa; contemporary: Bergman; forwards: Kieslowski. Sequence of note: Theophanes offers partnership in art to Kirill, who at first refuses, then agrees on the condition that Theophanes come personally to his town and invite Kirill publicly and, especially, in the presence of the great Andrei Rublev. Rather than come “himself,” Theophanes sends a messenger. The messenger invites not Kirill but Andrei. Kirill is incensed, furious; he leaves the holy work for a secular career, crying out accusations of hypocrisy all the while. Andrei, meanwhile, is humbled to the point of shock and immediately drops all to follow Theophanes. Part of Kirill’s fury is due to Andrei’s assent without first consulting him. That such an allegory should fit into a narrative by the name of The Passion According to Andrei is more than fitting. That these events are followed by death, temptation, sin, flagellation, and rebirth is ineffable if not sublime.

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This entry was published on February 12, 2009 at 11:58 pm. It’s filed under 1960s Cinema, Andrei Tarkovsky, Russian/Soviet Film and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “Andrei Rublev

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