Andrei Rublev review

Completed in 1966 but sat on by the Soviet authorities, who were understandably suspicious of its subversive spiritual message, Andrei Rublev was released to slightly bemused acclaim in 1969. It was the first film to unleash Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky's uncompromising, visionary talent on the world.

The film is loosely based around the life of a minor 15th-century Russian icon painter, re-invented by Tarkovsky as a Christ-like figure overwhelmed by compassion for the suffering he witnesses all around him. Epic in scope and often muddy in narrative, Rublev paints a tumultuous, overwhelming picture of medieval Russia, full of strife and cruelty and riven by Tartar invasions.

Even while struggling to make sense of the movie's frequent obscurities, it's impossible not to be moved by the intensity of Tarkovsky's vision. The finale, meanwhile, when the black-and-white screen erupts into glowing colour to show Rublev's iconic paintings, is nothing short of wondrous.

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