Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev (special feature)

[From CineVue]

andrei-rublev-img“About suffering they were never wrong, the old masters,” W.H. Auden wrote in his poem on Brueghel. The words could easily have applied to both the subject and the creator of Andrei Rublev, Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1966 masterpiece. A film about suffering and art, the spiritual journey towards transendence, and the muddy, sodden reality of day-to-day life. It is one of the most profound and moving experiences that cinema has ever conveyed. It begins with a prologue as a man, some Leonardo or Galileo of the Steppes perhaps, takes a giddy flight with a cobbled together hot air balloon.

This medieval Icarus rises from the bell tower and soars over the wetlands. Horses run in the distance and men shout up at him from boats. The bladders will leak; his hopes will be crushed, but was that glimpse, that aerial view of life, however brief, worth it? The film proper is structured around a series of titled episodes in the life of the Fifteenth Century monk and icon painter, Andrei Rublev, played by Anatoly Solonitsyn who would go on to feature in all of Tarkovksy’s work until Stalker in 1979 would effectively kill him.

Each episode stands as vignette, a panel representing an artist’s Stations of the Cross. Rublev himself is an enigmatic, quiet (ultimately silent) character; a watchful man who absorbs what is happening around him, as much a symbol of the audience as he is of the artist and perhaps film director. And what is happening around him, in the words of Thomas Hobbes, is life: ‘nasty, brutish and short’. A jester, or buffoon as the title card reads (Rolan Bykov), entertains a barn-full of drunken peasants with a ribald song as Rublev and his fellow monks take shelter from the rain. After mocking priests as well, the jester is arrested by a group of soldiers, who were perhaps called by one of Rublev’s confraternity, and led off to torture and perhaps death as the sun comes out once more.

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Ivan’s Childhood: A film master’s first steps; reappraising Tarkovsky

[from The Arts Desk website]

IC-horse_0The 30th anniversary of the death of Andrei Tarkovsky – the great Russian director died just before the end of 1986, on December 29, in Paris – will surely guarantee that his remarkable body of work receives new attention, and this month distributor Artificial Eye launches a programme, Sculpting Time, which will see new digitally restored versions of his seven films being re-released around the country. Tarkovsky is certainly not a figure whose reputation has ever fallen away, but it’s as appropriate a moment as any to reconsider his extraordinary talent, not least with the images of his work brought back to their true visual magic.

Its initial offering is, appropriately, Tarkovsky’s first full-length film, Ivan’s Childhoodfrom 1962, the work in which the remarkable nature of his talent first shone through. Part of its fascination lies in appreciating the context from which the director emerged, the elements of surrounding convention against which he would strain throughout his short life (he was only 54 when he died). The Great Patriotic War film was – and remains to this day – an almost inexhaustible genre for Russian-Soviet cinema, and the climate of the Khrushchev thaw that had begun in the mid-1950s was allowing for much more personal interpretations of its subject matter, bringing in a new level of humanisation.

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7 Andrei Tarkovsky films to be shown in the UK

[From the website Russia beyond the Headlines]

“To me he is God,” says Lars von Trier about the Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky. In an interview with the magazine Time Out London, von Trier says he has seen Tarkovsky’s 1975 film The Mirror 20 times.

Beginning on May 20 Brits will have a chance to watch The Mirror, as well as another six Tarkovsky masterpieces in cinemas across the UK.

The film program is called, Andrei Tarkovsky: Sculpting Time, and it will show digital restorations of the legendary Russian auteur’s films. The screenings, as well as new posters and trailers for the movies, were prepared by Curzon Artificial Eye, a British cinema company that is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary.

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Ivan’s Childhood, film review: ‘The most lyrical war movie ever made pristinely restored’

[From The Independent]

ivan-childhoodTarkovsky’s debut feature (re-released in a pristine newly restored version) is surely the most lyrical war movie ever made. It is set at a brutal and bloody moment in the Second World War.

Its main characters have all suffered devastating personal losses as the Soviet army tries to repel the Nazi invasion – and yet the film is a coming of age story which deals with young love and in which characters still have time to discuss art and books and to listen to music.

The film opens in magical fashion with a sun-drenched dream sequence in which the 12 year old Ivan is shown as a golden haired boy in a sunny, pastoral setting, delighting in the natural world and with his mother doting on him.

The reality, when he awakens, is that he’s a desperate kid, crawling through barbed wire-strewn swamps and trying to stay alive in a war zone.

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