Andrei Rublev (1969) — PICK

Newly restored for Blu-ray from Criterion, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev is among the most transcendent films ever made, richly deserving its place on the 1995 Vatican film list in the “Religion” category.

Transcendence in art is the film’s theme as well as its method, as Tarkovsky takes the life of a 15th-century monk who was Russia’s greatest iconographer not as his subject, but as his point of departure.

Best known for his famous icon of the Holy Trinity, Rublev’s work is noted for its serenity and grace. For Tarkovsky, Rublev’s harmonious art offers the greatest contrast to the upheaval and brutality of his day, as Tarkovsky himself hoped in this and other films to rise above the sociopolitical realities of his own Soviet milieu.

Tarkovsky is one of a handful of filmmakers for whom the notion of art as a “religious experience” was no cheap or desanctified metaphor, but literal truth.

The new Criterion edition presents a new high-definition digital restoration and features newly translated subtitles. Bonus features include the original 205-minute version of the film, a pair of 1966 documentaries about the writing and making of the film, a new video essay and a number of interviews.


Caveat Spectator: Shadowy nudity in a depiction of a pagan fertility rite; some brutal violence involving people and animals, including battlefield violence; brief cursing. Subtitles.