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Andrei Rublev (1966) - Analysis

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This analysis will contain spoilers for this film. If you havenít seen it yet, I highly recommend watching it before you read this. Also, see if you can watch the Criterion version.

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Andrei Tarkovskyís 1966 historical drama Andrei Rublev is a truly great and complex film which gets more interesting every time I watch it as thereís an abundance of info to get out of it. After having watched it several times, I thought Iíd share my readings/views on the film and what I make of it. Also, this analysis will go chronologically, meaning Iíll analyze it chapter by chapter.

On a side note, as for the recurring motif of the horses, Iíll discuss my reading of it at the end of this analysis since it appears quite often throughout the film. That way, I can avoid repeating ďThis is another example of thisĒ over and over again.

Prologue

The opening few minutes show a man named Yefim as he prepares to set of on a hot air balloon ride. As he prepares to embark on it, a crowd suddenly appears and tries to thwart him from taking off, burning one of his assistants with a firebrand in the process. Eventually, he manages to escape from them and soars above the ground for quite some time until he eventually crashes. Although itís not stated that he dies, this would make sense concerning the themes of this section of the film.

None of the characters in the opening appear anywhere else throughout the film and this scene isnít brought up at all throughout the film, so this section feels highly out of place at first glance. However, my reading on the opening is that this chapter and the concluding chapter (which Iíll get into at the end of this analysis) serve as bookends to the film. The thing that Yefim, Andrei, and Boriska (the bell maker in the final chapter) all have in common is that theyíre visionaries who are trying to overcome overwhelming odds to create something awe-inspiring. The addition of Yefim and Boriska can be read as generations of artists replacing each other. The opening represents the death of an old artist while the ending represents the birth of a new artist (which will be expanded upon later).

What about the group of people who attempt to thwart his efforts though? Theyíre in this scene, because Yefim represents one of several characters in the film who act as daring escapists who have their hopes crushed. These characters collide with institutions which seem determined to keep them in their place (due to possibly misunderstanding or disliking them). Iíll point out more characters who act as examples of this throughout this analysis.



I. The Jester (Summer 1400)

Andrei, Daniil, and Kirill have just left Andronikov Monastery and are heading towards Moscow in pursuit of work. Andrei and Daniil are both painters, but Andrei has a great desire to inspire, while Daniil is more withdrawn. Kirill has less talent than the other two, but he still desires to seek fame. Due to a heavy rain storm, the three of them seek shelter in a barn where a group of villagers are being entertained by a skomorokh, someone who earns a living by making fun of the Boyars via social commentary. Heís an enemy of both the state and the church. He also mocks the three monks as they enter. During this, Kirill briefly leaves the barn. Eventually, a group of soldiers enter the barn and take the man outside, knock him unconscious, smash his musical instrument, and take him away. After the rain stops, Kirill returns and the three men continue on.

This scene serves a few purposes. The first, which is the most simple one, is that it introduces us to the brutality throughout the film. Beyond this though, it also acts as the instance which sets off Andreiís character arc. This is the first of many shocking and disturbing encounters he experiences throughout the film. The effect this has on him will be explored throughout the film once he bears witness to more of them.

Another thing interesting about the brutality here is the way in which itís shot. The camera is placed inside the barn as the man is beaten outside. Itís important to note that Rublev is still at the start of his character arc as this scene occurs relatively early on in the film. While the camera placement may just be a coincidence, I like how it shows that thereís still a pretty firm distance between Rublev and the violence and mayhem depicted in the film. This stands in stark contrast to a later scene in the film.

In addition, the skomorokh bears a similarity to Yefim in the prologue in the way that heís another example of an escapist who clashes with a system which serves to keep him at bay. Heís the second character we see in the film who represents this. As where the crowd of people in the prologue were unsuccessful in trying to stop Yefim though, the soldiers in this scene succeed in subduing him, reinforcing this motif to a greater degree this time.



II. Theophanes the Greek (SummerĖWinterĖSpringĖSummer 1405Ė1406)

Kirill encounters Theophanes the Greek, a prominent and well-known icon painter. As he does so, a prisoner is being tortured and executed outside of his workshop. After Theophanes expresses his interest in Andrei Rublev, Kirill tells him that Andrei is a good painter, but that heís better than him. Then, after Theophanes is impressed by Kirillís conversation, he invites him to help him paint the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Moscow. Kirill agrees, but on the condition that Theophanes comes to the monastery to invite him to paint the cathedral in front of Andrei, Daniil, and the other monks. However, one of Theophanes messengers arrives and invites Andrei to paint the cathedral instead. Daniil refuses to accompany Andrei, and although Andrei doesnít want to go without him, he ultimately decides to leave. Kirill, jealous of Andrei, yells at the other monks and leaves the monastery.

The torture scene at the start serves to reinforce the brutality of the world. Beyond this though, whatís most significant about this section is that it gives a great deal of insight to the characterization of both Kirill and Theophanes. As for Kirill, this section contains the most insight to his characterization. In it, we learn more about his self-righteousness and jealousy. Despite the fact that heís less talented than both Andrei and Kirill, he falsely relays to Theophanes that heís superior in skill. This action reveals how untrustworthy he is and, as he demonstrates at the end with him leaving the monastery, the degree of his jealousy.

As for Theophanes, the fact that he betrays Kirill causes a lot of speculation as to his motives for doing so. Since Theophanes is more intelligent and has much more experience than Kirill does, perhaps heís able to see through his lies and recognize that he isnít being genuine. Kirillís strange request to have Theophanes invite him to work with him in front of the other monks couldíve been his mistake as this may have given Theophanes insight as to Kirillís actual personality. Ultimately, no clear answer is given to us for this aspect, but implications like these cause this part of the film to be effective.



III. The Passion (1406)

Andrei, along with his young, new apprentice Foma, set out for Moscow with Theophanes. Foma is also a talented artist, but is less interested in the deeper meaning of his art as much as he is with practical aspects of it, such as his attempt to perfect a color believed to be unstable to mix. Andrei discusses Fomaís faults to him, specifically how he stole honey from a bee garden. Eventually, they encounter Theophanes in the forest. While Foma cleans Andreiís paint brushes by a stream, Theophanes and Andrei discuss their differing views on religion. As they do so, a reenactment of Jesusí crucifixion plays out. As it occurs, Andrei expresses his beliefs on what Jesusí purpose of being born and crucified was.

The conversation which Andrei and Theophanes have shows the main difference between both of their views. Consider this following exchange:

Theophanes: The Day of Judgment is coming. Weíll all burn like candles. Mind my word, it will be hell! People will lump the blame for their sins on one another, will be justifying themselves before the almighty.

Andrei: I donít understand how you can paint, having thoughts like that.

This exchange of dialogue shows the difference between the views of both men. Since Theophanes is much older than Andrei, heís seen much of the mayhem/chaos which Andrei has yet to fully experience as of yet. As where Andrei is still optimistic about himself and other people, Theophanes is much more fearing in his views and rather disillusioned with people as he believes that their stupidity is to be blamed for their ignorance. Pretty soon though, Andrei will start to share his thoughts. On a side note, I also like how Fomaís role throughout their conversation is reduced to cleaning Andreiís supplies as opposed to engaging in conversation with them. It drives home his position as an outsider amongst them (Theophanes is shown mistreating him in this scene).

As for the reenactment of Jesusí death, I think itís one of the more emotionally powerful moments of the film. As it goes on, Andrei says ďPerhaps he was born and crucified for only one reason: To reconcile God with man.Ē This is a great line of dialogue as the idea of reconciling opposing elements is what defines Andreiís character arc from here to the rest of the film. This is going to be explored throughout the film, specifically and more prominently in the second half.



IV. The Holiday (1408)

Camping for the night by a riverbank, Andrei and Foma are gathering sticks to use as firewood when they encounter a group of naked pagans in the middle of a ritual. Going to investigate it, Andrei is caught and tied to a hut (in a way which mocks Jesusí crucifixion). They plan to let him go the next morning. Heís then approached by a woman named Marfa, where he voices his disapproval of their acts. Marfa tells him that theyíre commonly persecuted for their beliefs and kisses him. Whereas the skomorokhís beating was shown from a decent distance away, Andrei is thrust right in the center of this one. Andrei then convinces her to untie him so he can escape. The next morning, he makes it back to his group. As they continue downriver, a group of soldiers arrive and chase several pagans, including Marfa, who manages to escape by swimming across the river.

While he initially had a desire to inspire others earlier in the film, this encounter deeply affects him as heís forced to be right in the middle of this event, one which he completely disapproves of. While he was initially unable to relate to Theophanes views in the prior chapter, this is what puts Andrei in the same plane as him. Andrei has to minister to these people, but since heís too removed from their values and beliefs, heís too disconnected from them. The effect this will have on him will be explored in the next section.

In addition to advancing Andreiís character arc, the pagans in this scene serves as the final example of escapists getting their hopes crushed. The scene with the soldiers arresting several of the pagans at the end of it exists to drive home this point. The effect that the pagans in this section, the skomorokh in chapter one, and Yefim from the prologue give to this film is that they establish the Russian setting as unforgiving in the way that the government silences people from daring and unconventional practices like the ones these characters attempt to carry out throughout the film.



V. The Last Judgment (Summer 1408)

Andrei and Daniil are working on decorating a church in Vladimir. Despite the fact that theyíve been there for several months though, the walls are still white as Andrei is doubting himself. Theyíre told they have till Autumn to finish the job. Andrei later confesses to Daniil that he canít finish the work, because he doesnít want to terrify people into submission. Meanwhile, Foma resigns due to becoming impatient, leaving Andrei and his group to complete the work. While this goes on, various men from Andreiís party are working on painting the Grand Princeís mansion. After they refuse the Grand Princeís request to do the work over again, this leads to the most gory scene of the film as he orders a group of soldiers to gouge their eyes out to prevent them from doing any more work. Hearing about this, Andrei angrily splatters paint on the walls of the church. Suddenly, a holy fool named Durochka wanders into the church and is upset at the paint smeared over the wall. Seeing this, Andrei decides to paint a feast.

Itís in this section where we learn what the effect the previous events depicted in the film had on him is. Due to what he experienced before this section, heís in the middle of a crisis of faith. His issue is not on doubting God (which is a common misinterpretation Iíve seen brought up), but on doubting himself and other people. As he says to Daniil, he fears that, by painting The Last Supper, heíll terrify people into submission. He wants to find a better way to impact them. His internal struggle up to this point is that heís trying to do whatever he can to continue to walk the path with God despite the actions of various people he encounters throughout his journey constantly hanging on him. That he splatters paint over the church wall after hearing about the fate of his fellow artisans shows that heís officially through with painting the church walls. Heís furious at the actions of various people around him and he canít bring himself to paint something like this.

His encounter with Durochka at the end of this section has a major impact on him. Sheís a Yurodivy or a holy fool. Sheís a sane person who appears to be insane as a personal sacrifice to God. She serves as a good parallel to Marfa, the pagan woman from ďThe HolidayĒ as both women serve as a mix between the profane and the sacred. As where Andrei couldnít relate to Marta or any of the other pagans, heís inspired by the redemption he finds in Durochka, so thatís what leads him to paint a feast instead.

On a side note, while researching this film, I found one person refer to the scene of Andrei splashing paint on the church wall as creating modern art. Since Iím saddened that I didnít come up with that joke, would it be alright if you all pretend that I said it? Yeah? Okay, thanks.



VI. The Raid (Autumn 1408)

The Grand Princeís brother forms an alliance with a group of Tatars, and together, they raid Vladimir. Many citizens are killed in the process of this. During the raid, Foma narrowly manages to escape the city only to be killed by an archer outside of the city. Multiple Tatars force their way into the church (which is now fully decorated with Andreiís paintings) and begin to kill more people. In order to save Durochka, Andrei kills a Tatar. The Bishopís messenger is tortured into revealing the location of the cityís gold, which he refuses to do so. Molten metal from a crucifix is poured into his mouth and heís dragged away by a horse, leaving Andrei and Durochka as the only two left alive in the church. Andrei then imagines a conversation between the late Theophanes where he laments the loss of his work and the evil of mankind. Andrei decides to give up painting and to never speak ever again to atone for killing a man.

Although I still found the eye gouging scene to be the most disturbing part in the film, this will be the most elaborate and gruesome scene for many people. Throughout it, multiple people are killed, some are thrown to their deaths, a horse falls down a set of stairs, and a man has liquid metal poured into his mouth. Watching this sequence is like someone is like getting hit by a cannonball due to the shocking amount of brutality contained within it. In fact, this effect is similar to the one it has on Andrei.

While the other occurrences throughout the film definitely impact him quite a bit, itís in this section where he undergoes the most significant change. That he kills someone throughout the raid is what causes him to lose faith in himself at this point. The vow of silence he takes up is carried out because his goal now is to see if heís still capable of redemption. Itís his sacrifice to God to atone for what he did. Durochka is now all he has left at this point.



VII. Silence (Winter 1412)

Four years into his vow of silence, Andrei is now back at the Andronikov Monastery. A group of monks are discussing the issues in their hometowns when one monk, whoís recognized as the long absent Kirill, returns and speaks about how he survived the Vladimir raid. He begs to be allowed to return to the monastery. His request is granted, but on the condition that he copies the holy scriptures 15 times in penance. A group of Tatars arrive to the Monastery and one of them decides to make Durochka his eighth wife. Despite Andreiís attempt to stop her, sheís taken away. Kirill comforts him by saying that the Tatars wouldnít ever harm a holy fool, but Andrei is clearly broken by her leaving.

One thing I found interesting about the second half of the film while rewatching it for this analysis was how much the events in it correspond to the death of Jesus. While ďThe RaidĒ corresponds to Jesusí crucifixion (or, in the case of this film, Andreiís spiritual crucifixion), this chapter can be interpreted as his time spent within the tomb. Throughout this chapter, weíre given a glimpse into his life now that heís taken up the vow of silence. Since heís unable to stop Durochka from being taken away, this makes this sequence all the more powerful as she was the only person he had left in his life.

I know I donít have as much insight to say on this section as I do on the others, because I feel like the point of this section is a bit more simple to grasp than the others. Although, I mean the word ďsimpleĒ in more of a ďgreat point which is clearly communicatedĒ context as opposed to a pejorative way.



VIII. The Bell (SpringĖSummerĖWinterĖSpring 1423Ė1424)

Boriska, the son of a bellmaker, is hired to create a bell for the Grand Prince. As he begins making it, he makes several risky decisions with only his instincts to guide him. He soon expresses doubt that heíll be able to make it. During this, the skomorokh from the start of the film attacks Andrei as he believes he was the one who turned him in years earlier. Kirill intervenes though and later confesses to Andrei that it was he who led to the skomorokhís arrest years earlier (which is why he left the barn during the rainstorm) and that his jealousy over Andreiís talent dissipated once he found out that he stopped painting. Kirill pleads for him to continue painting, but gets no response. After the bell is finished, a man tries ringing it and, after a long wait, itís revealed that the bell works perfectly. Later, Andrei approaches Boriska, who is now crying as he confesses that his father never told him the secret of making bells. Breaking his 16 year vow of silence, Andrei expresses to him his belief that both of them should carry on with their work.

As I said with the prologue, both of these sections act as the bookends to this film. While the prologue showed the death of an old artist, this section continues on with the generation theme conveyed at the beginning by showing how Boriska will replace Andrei. The risky decisions which Boriska makes throughout the construction of the bell exemplify his lack of experience with bell making.

This section also provides the conclusion of Andreiís character arc. There are several moments throughout the final act where Andrei stares at Boriska during the bell making process (Boriska notices him a few times). Itís almost like he wants to see him succeed in creating it. That he breaks his vow of silence at the end of the film concludes his character arc. The reason he took up his vow of silence was to determine if he was capable of finding redemption. Allowing for Boriska to continue his work was his redemption, and I think Andrei knew that when he spoke with him at the end.

In addition, I loved the characterization of Boriska. He was reminiscent of Don Lope de Aguirre from Aguirre, the Wrath of God in the way that both of these characters had massive ambitions despite the danger of unlikeliness that their plans would actually succeed. Seeing the signs of unprofessionalism which Boriska displays throughout this section adds a lot of suspense to the film as it provides it with the suggestion that his lack of experience might cause the construction of the bell to fail. I was definitely on the edge of my seat during the bell ringing sequence.



Epilogue

The film suddenly changes from black and white to color as it presents several of Andrei Rublevís actual icons. Eventually, the classical music which plays over this sequence dies down and is replaced by the sound of a thunderstorm as the icons crossfade into a shot of four horses standing in the rain (also in color).

The images of Rublevís actual icons may come off as a bit schmaltzy at first glance, but I like to think of them as confirmation that Andrei was successful in convincing Boriska to continue making bells. Therefore, Andrei continued to paint as a result of that. Since thereís a decent amount of ambiguity contained within Andreiís and Boriskaís conversation at the end over whether heíll continue making bells, this sequence seems to confirm that Andrei successfully convinced him to continue.

As for the meaning of the final shot, now is a good time to provide my take on the horses which appear throughout the film. As many people here are probably aware of, Tarkovsky said that the horses are a symbol of life. To expand upon this reading, one thing I noticed was that all the poetic shots of the horses were typically out of reach of the main characters. They were often far off in the distance. My reading of this is that the main characters in the film were unable to find life in such a hostile and unforgiving environment. Life was out of their reach.

Before I get to the final shot though, I think there are a couple other notable shots of horses which warrant further analysis. The first of which is the controversial scene of a horse falling down the stairs during ďThe RaidĒ. This is a pretty shocking moment as itís the first time we see significant violence occurring to a horse. Itís important to note that this is the section which has the greatest impact on Andreiís character arc. While he was struggling with various dilemmas before this section of the film, the fact that we see legitimate harm come to something which acts as a symbol for life shows that heís now even furthered removed from himself and other people on a far greater level now.

The second shot occurs near the end of the film where we see Durochka and someone much younger than her (presumably her son) walking right next to a horse. Since her fate was ambiguous when she was taken away from Andrei in ďSilenceĒ, I think this shot shows that she found a great deal of life and ended up just fine. Since this shot happens when Andrei tries to convince Boriska to continue making bells, her presence could be something which further motivated Andrei to continue doing what he was doing in that moment.

Now, as for the aforementioned final shot, considering that the montage of Rublevís actual artworks are presented right before it occurs (and keeping my interpretation for that sequence in mind), I think this is an indication that Andrei finally found life in such a cruel environment since he found redemption by convincing Boriska to continue making bells. Like the shots of Rublevís actual icons, this shot is shown in color to help reinforce this point.



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So, to briefly summarize everything, Andrei is an icon painter looking to achieve fame in Moscow. As he does so, however, his faith in himself and humanity slowly declines due to a number of incidents such as violence and controversial practices he canít relate to. Finally, after killing someone, he loses faith in himself and decides never to paint or speak again to atone for his sin. After he notices a young bell maker who may potentially become famous, he redeems himself by convincing the boy to continue making bells. Heíll also continue to paint icons in the process. So, in short, he loses his faith only for it to be eventually reawakened.

Anyways, those are my thoughts on this film. If you have any interpretations to various scenes/aspects which I didnít address, feel free to mention them. Also, if you disagree with anything I said, donít be hesitant to point it out. I always love reading the feedback I get on these.



A very well; written alaysis of one of my favourite films.

I would say that my view of Durochka is that she is mentally disadvantaged and that such people are often treated as somehow touched by god or the supernatural, not just in Christianity but also by the Tartars. To Andrei I'd say she represents a childlike innocence he values highly(whilst others think he's sexually attracted to her) and her unknowingly committing the sin of entertaining a church with her hair uncovered is another point of him questioning his religion(rather than his faith) akin to the persecution of the pagans, Her finally abandoning him for the Tartars in the famine in his low point I'd say.

Incidentally she's actually played by Tarovsky's first wife Irma Raush who went on to become a director herself and I think an excellent example of his favoured acting style, In this case by nature lacking in any dialog and instead focused on selling drama by expression and movement something Anatoly Solonitsyn as Andrei is also IMHO a master of.

Whilst theres much that can be written about this film really for me its mostly a work of tone and atmosphere. Its very much based on characters physical experiences of the world around them and as a landscape photographer myself I admire the level of emotion its able to get out of its locations. Although even screenshots generally do a poor job of showing this as a lot of its greatness depends on compositions that are revealed across prolonged camera and subject movements.



A very well; written alaysis of one of my favourite films.

I would say that my view of Durochka is that she is mentally disadvantaged and that such people are often treated as somehow touched by god or the supernatural, not just in Christianity but also by the Tartars. To Andrei I'd say she represents a childlike innocence he values highly(whilst others think he's sexually attracted to her) and her unknowingly committing the sin of entertaining a church with her hair uncovered is another point of him questioning his religion(rather than his faith) akin to the persecution of the pagans, Her finally abandoning him for the Tartars in the famine in his low point I'd say.

Incidentally she's actually played by Tarovsky's first wife Irma Raush who went on to become a director herself and I think an excellent example of his favoured acting style, In this case by nature lacking in any dialog and instead focused on selling drama by expression and movement something Anatoly Solonitsyn as Andrei is also IMHO a master of.

Whilst theres much that can be written about this film really for me its mostly a work of tone and atmosphere. Its very much based on characters physical experiences of the world around them and as a landscape photographer myself I admire the level of emotion its able to get out of its locations. Although even screenshots generally do a poor job of showing this as a lot of its greatness depends on compositions that are revealed across prolonged camera and subject movements.
Thank you! This is one of my favorites as well.

As for Durochka, I do remember her being referred to as a holy fool a couple times throughout the film meaning she's just pretending to act the way she does, so I don't think she's actually mentally disadvantaged. I feel like the reason for Andrei's change of heart is that he finds a redemption in her that he didn't see in Marfa, someone whose religious practices he couldn't relate to. This restores enough of his faith in himself to the point that he feels determined to paint the feast. I do agree that her leaving Andrei for the Tatars represents his low point though.

I also agree that the film works really well in terms of its tone and atmosphere. I feel like many of Tarkovsky's films are more feelings than they are films. Tarkovsky is like no one else. And, of course, the visuals in it are quite breathtaking. Screenshots of the film, even its best shots, can't quite give you the same experience as watching the film does. Camera movements and the way the visuals are woven into the film also contribute to its visual splendor. Although, I usually like to appreciate the themes as well as the tone and atmosphere of this film when I watch it.



Theres a tradition of the mentally ill being viewed as holy that predates Christianity and arguably you have the same term used to refer to both the genuinely mentally handicapped and those putting on an act. The way she behaves to me makes it pretty clear that its the former, she often behaves in a fashion counter to Christian morality and never shows any sign of breaking character even in the most extreme positions.

I would say the situation with the Pagan's earlier in the film is focused on having Andrei question his religion, Mafra puts up a good defence of his intolerance and frees him and then he see's the brutality inflicted on them in the name of such intolerance.



From what I researched, mental illnesses were often thought of as punishments by God in countries such as India, Greece, and various European countries which often developed different methods in hopes of treating it. I haven't been able to find anything which shows they were treated holy so it's unlikely that, if Durochka actually was mentally handicapped, she would've been treated the way she was in that time period. Could you point me to where you read that the Russians of the time viewed the handicapped as holy? Also, in his book "Holy Fools in Byzantium and Beyond", writer Sergei A. Ivanov described the characteristics of holy fools as someone who "feigns insanity, pretends to be silly, or who provokes shock or outrage by his deliberate unruliness." Holy fools could cover a wide variety of topics and weren't easily defined in what specific types of behavior they did do and which specific kinds they didn't exemplify. I think Durochka is just Tarkovsky's take on holy fools, whether her behavior was common or uncommon behavior. Also, by breaking character, are you referring to when she's almost raped by the Tatar during the raid? I watched the scene again out of curiosity and it doesn't appear to be explicitly shown whether she exhibits the same behavior or not during it. All we see of her shows her crying and screaming as she's being taken up the stairs until Andrei saves her. It's possible that her screams are showing legit terror. It's too hard to call to my point of view.

As for Marfa, if you're implying that his encounter with her throughout that section far removes, but ultimately restores his faith, I don't agree. While she put up a defense in how what she's doing isn't wrong and though Andrei sees how she's treated by the Russian forces, I don't think this is what restores his faith as, in the next section, he's seen doubting his work and fearing that he'll terrify people into submission. He's still clearly disconnected with the world around him. He doesn't choose to paint the feast until he encounters Durochka's sacrifice to God at the end of that section.



She consistently behaves like someone with the mental level of a child and without the power of speech, no sign that she's putting up any kind of act or that anyone thinks she is if you ask me. Religions view of the mentally ill really varied considerably by time and place but such people being considered to be holy wasn't unique, that doesn't automatically mean their respected much and in this case its more than she's considered beyond reproach/punishment. I think she functions as someone who Andrei naturally values her innocence which makes her abandoning him for the Tartars arguably the final straw in his descent.

I would say the opposite of your point, Andrei seeing how the Pagan's are punished in the name of his religion causes him to further question that religion and his faith in society generally. I wouldn't say its the story of his personal faith being questioned but rather his relationship with the world at large which he disengages from until the Bell maker inspires him to return to it and that theres merit in his work.

Rublev standing in for Tarkovsky himself seems like a pretty common reading of the film and he does certainly seem to have a quite open minded(although not without intolerance) approach to his faith that's easier for a modern audience to relate to. Indeed I think that generally its a much easier film to process than its "greatest arthouse" reputation might suggest.



I was under the impression that Durochka's acting was really effective, which is why there wasn't an indication that she was of the mental level of a child. I didn't read that as a sign that she wasn't pretending after all. Just to put it in perspective though, The Holy Fool (which she's called in the film) doesn't indicate anything about actual mental handicaps. It simply refers to someone pretending to act foolish. Nobody said once in the film that she was mentally handicapped. I also haven't seen any other critics indicate that she's mentally handicapped as well. All the writings/video essays which I've read/seen on this film appear to agree that she's pretending to act that way. This is the first time I heard this interpretation come up. Of course, this isn't to say you're wrong. This just isn't how every critic/scholar I've come across describes her. While researching, I wasn't able to find anything which shows that mentally handicapped people were commonly thought of as God's Fools. Could you point me to where you read that?

As for your second paragraph, what you said is actually what I think of his arc. I agree that his arc is not of doubting God, but more so on doubting himself and other people around him. Sorry if the wording was a bit confusing in my last post. Here's a section from my analysis:

"Itís in this section where we learn what the effect the previous events depicted in the film had on him is. Due to what he experienced before this section, heís in the middle of a crisis of faith. His issue is not on doubting God (which is a common misinterpretation Iíve seen brought up), but on doubting himself and other people. As he says to Daniil, he fears that, by painting The Last Supper, heíll terrify people into submission. He wants to find a better way to impact them. His internal struggle up to this point is that heís trying to do whatever he can to continue to walk the path with God despite the actions of various people he encounters throughout his journey constantly hanging on him."