“I can’t paint all that; it disgusts me. I don’t want to terrify people. I am what I am.”

The painter Andrei Rublev (Anatoliy Solonitsyn)  – speaks of his conflict and inability to fulfill a commission — to paint a church with the traditional theme — a terrifying and damning Last Judgement.

In a time when all art was executed for a sponsor Andrei exercises his right to maintain his personal beliefs in his art. To not paint that which he does not believe in.

From the film Andrei Rublev, 1966. Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. 50 Greatest Films – British Film Institute


Anatoliy Solonitsyn and Andrei Tarkovsky

“what do I want to say in this film? [to] make the viewer aware that beauty grows from tragedy, misfortune, like from a seed.”

— Andrei Tarkovsky

Painting by Andrei Rublev

All artists in fact don’t live in the best of times. Each faces challenges. Some far more difficult than others. If we were not to make art until all the conditions were right for each of us in our own way…. well, there would be precious little art.  In the movie Andrei Rublev these issues weave throughout the narrative.

Rublev is an historical figure – a monk, an artist, a gifted icon painter.  He lives in medieval Russia, a perplexing, complex, dark and brutal world.

“It’s a feast… and you are saying… they are not sinners”

— Andrei Rublev

Found on most all “Greatest Films of All Time” critic’s lists, at 205 minutes it’s not likely to find hordes of new fans in contemporary societies. Nonetheless it is visually stunning and haunting. An artist makes his way through a hostile landscape and world creating beautiful works of art —  as you witness in the final segment – the only sequence in color.

As I make my way through the 50 Greatest Films from the British Film Institute’s 2012 Sight and Sound survey I search for a significant quote from each movie. Most quotes I narrowed in on for Andrei Rublev were dark statements about humanity and life.

Here I chose the quote that best describes Andrei’s creative struggle. Eventually, after a year of pondering a solution while seven or so assistants sit and wait to go to work, Andrei finds he will paint “a feast” instead of “The Last Judgement” by which “you are saying… they are not sinners”

— Douglas

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