Icon painter Andrei Rublev loses faith in his mission and his talent as he witnesses the political and cultural desecration of 15th-century Russia.
The film has been interpreted in many ways, with some seeing it as an allegory of Tarkovsky's own struggle to produce enduring beauty in a hostile environment. But what it certainly isn't is a factual biography, as Rublev remains an elusive enigma who is as often absent from the screen as he is at the centre of events. He may feud with a rival over God's relationship to humanity and kill a man to protect a deaf-mute girl in the church that has been vandalised by barbaric iconoclasts. But Tarkovsky is more concerned with images than deeds and it's the balloon flight over the Breughelesque countryside, the pagans carrying torches through the woods, the casting of the bell and the various still life landscapes, interiors and visages that linger like the colour fragments of Rublev's frescoes in the climactic coda
It's Tarkovsky's lighter touches, coupled with his majestic vision, that makes Andrei Rublev such compulsive viewing some 25 years after its original release.
Reviewed by David Parkinson