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If you liked Titanic, then take a hike. Otherwise...,
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This review is from: Andrei Rublev (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Tarkovksy's films are not for everyone. He is the Russian equivalent of Kubrick or Kurasawa or Welles, and he is as different from them as they are from each other. If you're expecting a conventional structure and pacing, you'll be dissapointed. Rublev requires patience.
Most people consider the film long and slow. The trick is to stop waiting for the narrative to develop and just experience the sequences as self-contained ideas. After a couple of hours you'll see it working up to something you hadn't thought possible at first. And by the two-hundred minute mark, it evolves into a complete emotional and cinematic experience.
I'm serious. It's amazing. *This* is Tarkovsky's gift.
By his own admission he was always more fascinated with the "poetry" of images than their immediate narrative value. As a result his films deliver an experience which is unique to every viewer. This is no mean feat; today directors strive to make the global audience feel "happy" or "sad" according to a pre-defined and market-oriented narrative structure. It's a cheap manipulation (like "Titanic" and the damn theme music).
Tarkovksy doesn't go there at all. He shows you something and lets you feel whatever you want. This isn't a cheap cop-out from an inept director, it's *your* experience. And a dangerous approach in a world where audiences expect to be cued when and how to react. Have you ever noticed how upset people get when left to their own emotional devices?
Tarkovsky has mastered the long-take, mise-en-scene, and the wide-screen (2.35) frame, and the Critereon transfer does it's best to present this. There are technical problems with the transfer, but having seen Rublev on a pan-and-scan VHS, the extra bucks are still worth it. And the additional resolution of DVD gives the image more texture and detail.
One of the tragedies (now being slowly rectified thanks to DVD) of modern cinema is the pan-and-scan VHS. Many lesser works can survive it ("Titanic" again!), but it has ruined almost every one of Tarkovsky's films. He composes very deliberate frames, balanced in a way that only wide-screen can accomodate ("The Sacrifice" was the exception, shot 1.66 I believe). The VHS transfers are claustrophobic and uncomfortable (showing only 60% of the image), but in their true aspect ratio his shots are spacious and carefully composed.
The accompanying materials (intervews and commentary) are interesting, but dryly presented by academics. A shame, since this is the type of film that Martin Scorcese could do a fantastic commentary for.
And be warned, there are moments of horrific violence and cruelty.
Since the Reagan administration came to power, the west has lost track of Eastern European cinema. It had (has) a style and direction as unique as the Japanese or British. Tarkovsky is one of it's gems, and no one who considers themselves a conoseur of film can go without a Tarkorvsky viewing.
My personal favourites are "Stalker", "My Name Is Ivan", and "The Sacrifice", and of course "Solaris" -- unfortunately the only one I've seen in it's Wide Aspect is "Sacrifice". But Tarkovsky is one of the greatest directors in history, and "Andrei Rublev" is still an amazing film.
Bye the way,
If you're not quite ready for the plunge into Tarkovsky, try the documentary "Andrei Tarkovsky Directs", which is an action packed account of the making of "The Sacrifice".
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 5, 2008 4:51:41 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 11, 2008 2:24:01 AM PDT
Don't assume anything. I loved '"Titanic" . Don't assume ,my friend....don't assume! Just because you think this film is great puts everyone else potentially in another class, like The Prince and the Artists in "Andrei Rublev".
Posted on May 30, 2009 11:42:13 PM PDT
Grigory's Girl says:
Tarkovsky only shot two films with 2.35:1 framing, Andrei Rublev and Solaris.
Ivan's Childhood, Mirror, and Stalker were all shot in the "academy" ratio, the TV ratio of 1.33:1.
Nostalghia and The Sacrifice were shot in 1.66:1.
Posted on Dec 30, 2013 10:17:57 PM PST
John Nava says:
An "action-packed" account of the making of THE SACRIFICE? You mean there was more action in the filming of it than the film itself?
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 30, 2013 10:20:17 PM PST
John Nava says:
I've only seen this beautiful film once. I don't know that I'd buy a DVD anymore than I'd buy a DVD to 2001! Who knows if I will ever see it on the big screen again!
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