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Andrei Rublev (The Criterion Collection)

4.6 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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(Feb 02, 1999)
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The Criterion Collection
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The 15th-century Russian icon painter renounces his art after taking part in a peasant uprising. Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky.

At last, the complete version of Andrei Tarkovski's 1966 masterpiece about the great 15th century Russian icon painter (a film suppressed by the Soviet Union and unseen until 1971) is available. It's a complex and demanding narrative about the responsibility of the artist to participate in history rather than documenting it from a safe distance. A landmark in Russian cinema, Andrei Rublev is a beautifully lyrical black-and-white film about harmony and soulful expression. As the late filmmaker says in a supplementary interview, each generation must experience life for itself; it cannot simply absorb what has preceded it. In fact, a whole host of supplements accompanies the film in this Criterion Collection release. Stick with it; it's worth the effort. --Bill Desowitz

Special Features

  • The definitive 205-minute director's cut with exclusive widescreen digital transfer
  • Completely retranslated subtitles that restore 40% of the dialogue
  • Rare film interviews with Tarkovsky, with a general essay on Tarkovsky's work by Professor Petric
  • Audio essays by Harvard film professor Vlada Petric over select scenes
  • A timeline featuring key events in Russian history, plus the lives and works of Andrei Rublev and Andrei Tarkovsky

Product Details

  • Actors: Anatoliy Solonitsyn, Ivan Lapikov, Nikolay Grinko, Nikolay Sergeev, Irina Tarkovskaya
  • Directors: Andrei Tarkovsky
  • Writers: Andrei Tarkovsky, Andrey Konchalovskiy
  • Producers: Tamara Ogorodnikova
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Color, Letterboxed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Russian (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: February 2, 1999
  • Run Time: 205 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305257450
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,114 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Andrei Rublev (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Tarkovsky's Andre Rublev plows the same ground as Scorsese's Last Temptation of Christ, but with greater success. No, I haven't been smoking anything; I'm serious. A collection of metaphorically related vignettes that loosely follows the life of Russia's great medieval artist, Andrei Rublev is about nothing less than the struggle between mankind's spiritual and carnal natures. It is also one of the rare films featuring Christianity that neither belittles the faithful nor condescends to them. I'll take this film over The Robe, The Greatest Story Ever Told or even Ben Hur any day of the week.
All the same, this film is not typical wholesome family entertainment of the Disney variety. It's more like the cinematic equivalent of broccoli - you may or may not like the flavor, but it's good for you. There is nudity. There is violence. If you're an animal lover, it may give you nightmares (at least two horses and one cow probably died in the process of filming). But you know, the Bible itself is full of plenty of that kind of stuff. What makes it palatable is the moral context - the material is in service of an authentically moving spiritual journey. The film may not shy away from the ugliness of medieval Russian peasant life, but it also does not shy away from the message of redemption through grace - and I'm not referring to "grace" in an exclusively Christian context.
While grace wears Russian Orthodox garb in this film, the concept expands to occupy a more universal definition through the use of strong metaphorical imagery. Grace, it seems to suggest, is a state of mind: if you believe it is a gift from God, this film will probably affirm your faith; if not, it will won't offend you with overt evangelism.
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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.
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Format: DVD
Straight up, "Andrei Rublev" is possibly my favourite film, the reason why I got turned onto cinema when I was 15 (some 14 years ago!). So the three stars are for the product rather than the film, which would get 5/5 every time from me. Secondly, I love Criterion DVDs: as a matter of fact, I received "Breathless"/"Bout De Souffle" today and I'm mightily impressed with the film transfer, packaging and extras that set has.
Much is made of the fact that this is the "uncut" version of the film. This may be so, but the twenty minutes that this version has over the Russian Cinema Council version (availaible on Artificial Eye in the U.K.) are generally not new scenes: rather they are extra shots that have been cut from the RUSCICO/AE release. For instance, when Kirill storms out of the monastery after the apparent snub by Theophanes, he beats a stray dog that chases him. In the AE release, the yelping of the dog is the only indication that he kills the animal; in the Criterion version, there is a shot of the dog writhing on the ground. This is not to indicate my distate for animal cruelty, but just that these shots don't in my opinion really add any profundidty to the film. Another example would be the jester's bare, er, posterior with a smiley face daubed on during the hut scene near the beginning, which the AE release omits: it's just bits and bobs spread throughout the film, not extra whole scenes, that's all.
This would be fine if the one-disc transfer was up the standard of the AE release (which splits the film between two discs, 99 and 86 minutes). It isn't. Perhaps it's because we are so used to good transfers onto DVD owadays, where even the no-frill Second Run and Eclipse relaeses are of a very high standard, that this release from 1998 seems sub-standard.
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