My 7 Dinners With Andrei #2: Andrei Rublev

Making a film where the titular character has your first name ❤ (Also, I watched the shorter cut.)

Andrei Rublev spends its first two chapters quietly obliterating characters who dare to have any livelihood, with a man who tries to fly away in a balloon crashing into the ground after a brief, dizzying flight that can cause genuine vertigo to a viewer providing us the way in. When the monks arrive at a cabin in the rain, we see a jester provide a routine that practically allows him to take flight in his own way, leaping and banging his instrument against everything in sight before soldiers arrive and take away the one thing that brings him joy. The dreams of Andrei’s friends are the next to go as he finally becomes a character in his own story, with the jealous Cyril and conflicted Daniil taking out their emotions in ways that cannot be taken back even as they continue trying to grasp at the fire of creation. Jesus’ crucifixion is graphically matched with a dead swan as the belief that man did it out of love for the god they worshiped is intoned. Naked pagans dance and present temptation for someone who has otherwise been nothing but the saintliest figure of creativity, but the sun rises and they must swim across a freezing cold lake with no clothes to survive.

At this point, we are done with half the chapters and the film has not quite reached the halfway point yet in this version of the cut. Feeling on edge? So is the legend, as he admits that he does not want to terrify people into submission with the powers of his work and we promptly get just that, a demon’s contrivance, cutting out the eyes of men who make their entire life’s worth of this particular talent for daring to dream big. A city is raided by those same men, now employing Rublev’s talents, and nothing is done on the part of the artist except a vow of silence and a refusal to do anything. Eventually, something as simple and beautiful as Ivan’s Childhood, all grown up, returns to help break him out of his rut, with the construction of a bell and one of the most beautiful long takes I have ever seen leading to inspiration. All this pain will be swept up in the flow of the river. Art in its many glorious colors will be what endures long after the centuries have flown by.


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