Andrei Rublev by Andrei Tarkovsky (1966)

Still from Andrei Rublev [The Kobal Collection/Art Resource, New York]

Earlier in the year, we discussed the icon painter Andrei Rublev.  Our masterpiece today is a film about his life.  More than a mere biographical movie, this stunning film by Andrei Tarkovsky is a work of art in itself.  Beyond its rich content is the miracle of protection the filmmaker must have received that allowed this gritty, unflinching commentary to be made in the USSR of 1966.

As Terry Glaspey explains in 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know :

Andrei Rublev is truly an epic film, both in length and conception. Clocking in at almost three and a half hours in its original version, it has been trimmed by almost an hour in the version usually screened today. It is divided into eight sections, each one focused on a major event in the icon painter’s life. Though a deeply spiritual story, it is not presented with an air of piety but with gritty realism, captured beautifully in the highly contrasting textures of wide-screen black-and-white film.

During Rublev’s journeys through the course of the film, the young monk witnesses the inhumanity and cruelty of the human race, experiencing firsthand the ugliness of war, the horror of rape, and monstrous blasphemy. He experiences pain and poverty and the temptations of the flesh, and has a vision in which he witnesses the crucifixion of Christ reenacted on the top of a snowy Russian hill. At one point, in trying to defend a woman being tortured, Rublev even commits murder himself, which leads him to a vow of silence and the decision to forgo his vocation as a painter. That vow is only renounced late in the picture when he is reminded of the power inherent in the act of creativity and returns to his calling as an icon painter. This decision ushers in the final section of the film, the only portion not filmed in black and white but which gives us, in gloriously vivid color, a close-up look at the icons Rublev has created, a symbol of the ultimate triumph of the spiritual over the darkness of the material world.

Few films so effectively encapsulate a specific moment in history and render it in such stark and unblinking realism, while at the same time offering a deeper spiritual hope that lies beyond this dark and troubling world. This hope shines through in the creation of sacred art. Tarkovsky’s film, at its core, is about the spiritual importance of art and is itself a work of art of the highest.

Have you seen this movie?


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

D I G  D E E P E R


Andrei Tarkovsky

Andrei Tarkovsky

Andrei Tarkovsky was born in Russia in 1932 and studied film at the Moscow State Film School. Even his earliest student films show the promise of his immense talent as a director. Upon graduation he began to make his own films, often struggling with the limitations set by Soviet censors but finding ways to present his vision regardless. While never a hugely popular filmmaker, as his films place great demands upon their audiences, he was lionized by the likes of Ingmar Bergman, who thought him the best of modern directors. When Tarkovsky found it impossible to continue making the films he wanted under the eyes of the Soviet censors, he chose to go into exile, living for a time in Italy, Germany, and Sweden (where he made his last film). When he was diagnosed with cancer, he moved to Paris for treatment, but died in 1986 at age fifty-four.

 

Sources & Resources

Bird, Robert. Andrei Rublev. London: British Film Institute, 2004.

Gianvito, John, ed. Andrei Tarkovsky: Interviews. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2006.

Martin, Sean. Andrei Tarkovsky. Harpenden, UK: Pocket Essentials, 2005.

Moroz, Vadim. Andrei Tarkovsky: About His Film Art. Petersburg, VA: Frost Publishing, 2008.

Robinson, Jeremy. Andrei Tarkovsky. Kent, UK: Crescent Moon, 2010.

Solonitsyn, Anatoliy, and Ivan Lapikov. Andrei Rublev. DVD. Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. New York: Criterion Collection, 1999.

Tarkovsky, Andrei. The Diaries, 1970–1986. London: Verso, 1993.

———. Sculpting in Time. Austin: University of Texas, 1986.

Terry Glaspey, 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and Film (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2015).

 

Terry Glaspey

Terry Glaspey

I’m really looking forward to discussing my book, “75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know,” with the members of Literary Life Book Club. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and perspectives on some of the art, music, and literature you’ll discover in the book. I’m interested in how it speaks to you in your life and the ways it inspires, challenges, or maybe even annoys you! I’ll try to share some “deleted scenes” stuff I had to leave out and will tell a few stories about what I experienced while doing the writing and research. Hope that many of you can join us as we look at he stories behind some truly wonderful art.

Let’s explore together!

Terry

Join the discussion with Terry on Facebook HERE

Terry Glaspey is a writer, an editor, a creative mentor, and someone who finds various forms of art—painting, films, novels, poetry, and music—to be some of the places where he most deeply connects with God.

He has a master’s degree in history from the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!), as well as undergraduate degrees emphasizing counseling and pastoral studies.

He has written over a dozen books, including 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know:  Fascinating Stories Behind Great Art, Music, Literature, and Film, Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis, The Prayers of Jane Austen, 25 Keys to Life-Changing Prayer, Bible Basics for Everyone, and others.

Terry enjoys writing and speaking about a variety of topics including creativity and spirituality, the artistic heritage of the Christian faith, the writing of C.S. Lewis, and creative approaches to apologetics.

He serves on the board of directors of the Society to Explore and Record Church History and is listed in Who’s Who in America Terry has been the recipient of a number of awards, including a distinguished alumni award and the Advanced Speakers and Writers Editor of the Year award.

Terry has two daughters and lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Dig Deeper at TerryGlaspey.com

 

Some of the greatest painters, musicians, architects, writers, filmmakers, and poets have taken their inspiration from their faith and impacted millions of people with their stunning creations. Now readers can discover the stories behind seventy-five of these masterpieces and the artists who created them. From the art of the Roman catacombs to Rembrandt to Makoto Fujimura; from Gregorian Chant to Bach to U2; from John Bunyan and John Donne to Flannery O’Connor and Frederick Buechner; this book unveils the rich and varied artistic heritage left by believers who were masters at their craft.

Terry Glaspey, 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and Film (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2015).

Order it HERE today.