“Andrei Rublev” at the Cinematheque

“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.” – Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time

Tomorrow night Madison cinephiles will receive a truly awesome opportunity: the chance to see a 35mm print of the 185-minute version of Tarkovsky’s “Andrei Rublev” (1966), an immensely sweeping and intellectually loaded work that sticks out in its director’s immensely sweeping and intellectually loaded oeuvre.

“Andrei Rublev” is dramatically slow but so busy with big ideas and shards of cinematic poetry that it’s perhaps the second best illustration of Tarkovsky’s signature aesthetics (second only to his 1975 masterpiece, “Mirror,” which is one of my all-time favorite films).

Here’s Jonathan Rosenbaum’s capsule review, courtesy of the Chicago Reader:

Andrei Tarkovsky’s first major film (1966, though banned and unseen until 1971), 185 minutes long, cowritten by Andrei Konchalovsky, about a 15th-century icon painter. This medieval epic announced the birth of a major talent; it also stuns with the sort of unexpected poetic explosions we’ve come to expect from Tarkovsky: an early flying episode suggesting Gogol, a stirring climax in color. Not to be missed.

The screening will begin at 7:30 and will be accompanied by a talk from film scholar Robert Bird, who wrote the BFI monograph on “Andrei Rublev.” Be sure to consume something caffeinated before you head to the ‘theque.

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