I completed Andrei Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev last night, my first of Tarkovsky which was long in the to-see list but I was deterred by its length and my shallow understanding, so saved it for a better day. It will take some time to think about the film and the passion of Andrei Rublev to sink in. What I really liked is the narrative that refrains from following the protagonist consistently. I was expecting that like any epic film about a legendary character, the film will be from Rublev's perspective and all the events and episodes would encircle him, but to my pleasant surprise this was not so. As the commentator Vlada Petric rightly points out - Tarkovsky doesn't want Andrei Rublev to be an epic film in the classic sense, lacking a central hero protagonist, it is the film's spatial and thematic breadth that function on an epic level evoking history by a synthesis of myths, legends and folklore.
According to Tarkovsky the task of a director is to pick out and join together the bits of sequential facts, focusing on what lies beneath them, while revealing what type of chain hold them together. Working on this principle the seemingly dis-jointed episodes of Andrei Rublev can be viewed as narrative bits, joined together by poetic associations of various images.
And here is what Tarkovsky has to say about his movie Andrie Rublev in the documentary Andrei Rublev: A Poet of the Cinema
The pressure Rublev is subject to is not an exception. An artist never works under ideal conditions, if they existed, his work wouldn't exist, for the artist doesn't live in a vacuum. Some sort of pressure must exist, the artist exists because the world is not perfect. Art will be useless if the world is perfect, as man wouldn't look for harmony but simply live in it. Art is born out of ill designed world. This is the issue in "Rublev": the search of harmonic relationship among men, between art and life, between time and history. Thats what my film is all about. Another important theme is man's experience, in this film my message is that it is impossible to pass on experience to others or learn from others. We must live our own experience, we cannot inherit it. People often say: Use your fathers experience! Too easy: each of us must get our own, But once we've got it, we no longer have time to use it. And the new generation rightly refused to listen to it. They want to live it but then they also die. This is the law of life, its real meaning. We cannot impose our experience on other people or force them to feel suggested emotions. Only through personal experiences we understand life. Rublev, the monk, lived a complex life. He studied with master Radonevsky, at the Holy Trinity but he lived in variance with his teaching. He got to see the world through his masters eye. Only at the end of his life, that he lived his own way.
I completed the film in two days and it was an experience to go through. Much should emerge after contemplation and analysis on the movie, but I was really taken over by The Bell episode and how beautifully it captures the spirit and travails of creation and getting your own experiences. For me it worked like a short film complete in itself but as a part of this epic cinema, it gather much profound meanings.
See Andrie Rublev's paintings here. It also contains his celebrated masterpiece The Old Testament Trinity, which is also shown in the film's final moments where it miraculously turns to color.