Film is a brilliantly-fashioned fresco of 15th-century Russia built around the life of a noted icon painter, Andrei Rublev. It catches the medieval brutality and man’s awakening cognizance of a need for change.
The icon painter, Rublev (Anatoli Solonitsyn), is a monk invited to paint at the house of a lord. But his cognizance of the treatment of peasants who are trying to free themselves, the many noblemen fighting each other by enlisting the help of the occupying Tartars, and one raid in which he is forced to kill a man to save a woman, has him renouncing his work.
In an extraordinary segment of the pic, when a young man oversees the making of a giant bell by saying he knows the secret of his late great bell-making father (though he does not), Rublev decides he will paint again.
In black and white, the film suddenly bursts into color to show Rublev’s actual icons. It avoids an academic aspect and displays a director of exceptional talent in Andrei Tarkovsky, whose second film this is after My Name Is Ivan.
[Pic was completed in 1966, shown at the Cannes festival in 1969, but not released in the USSR until 1971.]