We wanted to make a picture that would be comprehensible to the modern viewer without departing from the truth, without resorting to some special plastic expressivity that underscores the theme’s historicism and raises the story onto the “buskins of eternity,” which removes the protagonists from the real earth. In this respect Eisenstein’s historical films, for example, demonstrate the opposite tendency. In his films if he shows a chair, for example, then it looks like a palace. He plays on it as if it was the most unique relic from the Kremlin Armoury. We thought that such an attitude distracts viewers and obscures his perception of what is most important, while we tried to concentrate all attention on the problems, on the psychology of actions, and on human characters. We wanted the screen to provide, so to speak, a chronicle of the fifteenth century, to make the distance in time as unnoticeable and as shortened as possible. We tried not to shock and not to surprise, but to make the viewer feel all of it as flesh of the flesh, blood of the blood of Russia.
All the episodes were really part of our family history. All of them, without exception. The only made up episode is the illness of the narrator, the author (whom we do not see on the screen)… You are asking whether this kind of creation, this creating of one’s own world—is this truth? Well, it is truth of course but as refracted through my memory. Consider for example my childhood home which we filmed, which you see in the film—this is a set. That is, the house was reconstructed in precisely the same spot where it had stood before, many years ago. What was left there was a… not even the foundation, only a hole that had once contained it. And precisely at this spot the house was rebuilt, reconstructed from photographs. This was extremely important to me—not because I wanted to be a naturalist of some kind but because my whole personal attitude toward the film’s content depended upon it; it would have been a personal drama for me if the house had looked different. Of course the trees have grown a lot at this place, everything overgrew, we had to cut down a lot. But when I brought my mom there, who appears in several sequences, she was so moved by this sight that I understood immediately it created the right impression…
I owe everything mainly to my mother. It was she who helped me find myself. And even in the film one can clearly see our living conditions were very tough, very difficult. Such were the times. Then my mother was left alone, I was 3 years old, my sister 1 year and a half and mother was bringing us up simply all the way, she never married, she was always with us. She didn’t marry for the second time, she loved her husband, my father, all her life. She was an amazing woman, really a saint.
"…Tarkovsky gave me one of the best and most unforgettable experiences in my life and in cinema. Late in the day, in 1971, I was watching a film with Kjell Grede (a Swedish filmmaker) in a screening room from SF. Afterwards we took a look at the screening booth where a number of film cases were lying. ‘What’s that?’ I asked the projectionist. ‘Some fucking Russian film.’ And then I saw Tarkovsky’s name and told Grede: ‘Listen, I read something about this picture. We have to watch it and see what it’s all about.’ We then bribed the projectionist so that he would show it to us … And it was Andrei Rublev. And so, at about 2:30 a.m., we both came out of the screening room with gaunt eyes, wobbly, completely moved, enthusiastic, and shaken. I will never forget it. What was remarkable is that there were no Swedish subtitles! We didn’t understand one word of dialogue, but we were nonetheless overwhelmed. Tarkovsky made another film that I like a lot, The Mirror.” — Ingmar Bergman, 2002
“Why do people go to the cinema? What takes them into a darkened room where, for two hours, they watch the play of shadows on a sheet? The search for entertainment? The need for a kind of drug? All over the world there are, indeed, entertainment firms and organizations which exploit cinema and television and spectacles of many other kinds. Our starting point, however, should not be there, but in the essential principles of cinema, which have to do with the human need to master and know the world. I think that what a person normally goes to the cinema for is time: for time lost or spent or not yet had. He goes there for living experience; for cinema, like no other art, widens, enhances and concentrates a person’s experience—and not only enhances it but makes it longer, significantly longer. That is the power of cinema: ‘stars’, story-lines and entertainment have nothing to do with it.”
“I see it as my duty to stimulate reflection on what is essentially human and eternal in each individual soul, and which all too often a person will pass by, even though his fate lies in his hands. He is too busy chasing after phantoms and bowing down to idols. In the end everything can be reduced to the one simple element which is all a person can count upon in his existence: the capacity to love. That element can grow within the soul to become the supreme factor which determines the meaning of a person’s life. My function is to make whoever sees my films aware of his need to love and to give his love, and aware that beauty is summoning him.”
Tarkovsky’s cinema is steeped in Eastern Orthodox mysticism.
Orthodox Easter, celebrated by most branches of the Eastern Orthodox Church (including the Russian Orthodox Church) and some Oriental Orthodox churches, is today this year. Orthodoxy in Estonia is practiced by 13% of the population, making it the second most identified religion after Lutheran Christianity.
The Easter service itself begins the night before Easter Sunday. I actually took part of it last night. People gather at church at around 23:00 to hear the Easter mass. Bells begin to ring out across the city and the priest will then lead the congregation around the church in what is called ‘the cross procession’.
I found a copy of Andrei Rublyov’s Holy Trinity hanging on the wall. The Church has many different depictions of the Holy Trinity. But the icon which defines the very essence of Trinity Day is invariably the one which shows the Trinity in the form of three angels. The prototype for this icon was the mysterious appearance of the Holy Trinity in the form of three travelers to Abraham and Sarah under the oak of Mamre. The Church specifically chose this particular icon because it most fully expresses the dogma of the Holy Trinity: the three angels are depicted in equal dignity, symbolizing the triunity and equality of all three Persons.
Andrei Rublev, Art, Orthodox Icons, Russian Art, Russian Orthodox Church, Trinity, Christ the Redeemer.
It is a mistake to talk about the artist “looking for” his subject. In fact, the subject grows within him like a fruit and begins to demand expression. It is like childbirth. The poet has nothing to be proud of: he is not master of the situation, but a servant. Creative work is his only possible form of existence, and his every work is like a deed he has no power to annul. For him to be aware that the sequence of such deeds is due and ripe, that it lies in the very nature of things, he has to have faith in the idea; for only faith interlocks the system of images (for which read: system of life.)