Andrei Rublev (Andrey Rublyov) (Distinction Series) (1969)

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Released 1-Sep-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Animation & Audio
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Featurette-Interview: Marina Tarkovskaya (2:00)
Filmographies-Cast & Crew-(16)
Gallery-Photo-(20 stills)
Featurette-Making Of-(5:16)
Interviews-Cast-Yuri Nazarov (4:26)
Trailer-MosFilm Titles (8)
Featurette-Etudes (8)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1969
Running Time 174:33 (Case: 185)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (61:18) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Andrei Tarkovsky
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring Anatoli Solonitsyn
Ivan Lapikov
Nikolai Grinko
Nikolai Sergeyev
Irma Raush
Nikolai Burlyayev
Yuri Nazarov
Yuri Nikulin
Rolan Bykov
Nikolai Grabbe
Mikhail Kononov
Stepan Krylov
Stepan Krylov
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI $34.95 Music Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Russian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.05:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Andrei Rublev is a classic of Russian cinema, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky (Solaris, The Mirror, Stalker). The film is an epic biography of 15th Century Russian painter Andrei Rublev and is divided into two parts, each on a separate disc. Part one introduces us to Rublev as a young priest who is taken in by a Greek named Theophanes, himself a renowned artist who needs assistance with a job painting a chapel. The film focuses on Rublev's interactions with a myriad of characters he encounters in his travels, from bandits, to labourers, to town loonies. A great deal of screen time is also dedicated to philosophising between Rublev and his Greek mentor. Disc two covers the invasion of the Moguls and Rublev's subsequent guilt over his sins, having defended a lady friend against a violent attacker. Taking a vow of silence, he grows old and witnesses the casting of a great church bell. He finally realises the beauty of his talents as a painter, deciding it would be an injustice to waste god's gift.

    The vast scope of this production goes beyond anything I could summarise in so few words - you should see it and make up your own mind. I can tell you that Tarkovsky's film boasts some of the most astounding photography I have witnessed, and many cite this as his masterwork. One thing's for certain, it does present a sometimes a grim view of humanity:

"Today they praise, tomorrow they'll abuse what they praised only yesterday. After that, they'll forget both you and me. All is vanity. All is useless."

    Tarkovsy is drawing parallels between his own struggles as a filmmaker and artist, as a citizen of the USSR, and the very icons his mother country holds so dearly. Conceited? Maybe. It's a lot to absorb in one viewing, but there's no denying his unique vision is unlike anything we're likely to see again.

    A note to those in charge of disc authoring. When a film is split over two discs, it is most convenient for the viewer to have the second disc begin playback of the film automatically, or at the very least load directly to a setup menu. Having to disrupt the film by changing discs is bad enough, but to sit through all of the distributor logos and assorted propaganda a second time is totally unnecessary.

    Disc One runtime: 81:12. Disc Two runtime: 93:21 (174:33 PAL in total).

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Not a lot of good news, I'm afraid. This video transfer is not the most desirable of presentations, but on the upside I think it is great to finally see see some of Tarkovsy's films released in Region 4. It's been a long wait!

    The 16x9 enhanced image is considerably windowboxed on all sides, with wide black bars. This film was produced in the Sovscope process, which is a 35mm anamorphic process similar to Cinemascope. The measured aspect ratio of the image presented here is roughly 2.05:1, whereas it should be 2.35:1. The cover slick incorrectly lists the aspect ratio as 1.85:1.

    There is consistent distortion present in the transfer, making the image appear vertically stretched. Actor's faces appear elongated, and camera pans that should be smooth and fluid are quite disorienting (disc one, 12:50), like watching the film through a fish-bowl. I viewed the film on several displays and it seems the bigger the display, the less attractive this transfer is.

    Aside from a brief passage in the film's finale, the entire production is black and white. Contrast in this transfer is lacking, far too bright in fact. For an example, see the face of the pale building at 5:20 of disc one, the image is so poorly contrasted that it is awash with blooming, to the point where all detail in the brickwork is lost. Again, at 57:14 the horse in the foreground is almost lost in the over-contrasted white background.

    Detail in the image is limited. Some scenes are very soft, while others are quite edgy and distracting. Some unsightly jagged edges can be seen in the tree branches at 31:40 of disc two. Moiré effect occupies the screen on the priest's robe, at 24:40 of disc two, as the transfer struggles to render the complex textures in the image.

    The film's only colour passage, at the end of disc two, fares the worst, unfortunately. The footage is of a poor resolution, very heavily artefacted, scratched and wobbling all over the place. The colours, which I'm certain should be rich and vibrant so as to contrast with the monochromatic film, are washed-out and absolutely lifeless.

    MPEG compression isn't an issue, however, film artefacts are frequent. Positive and negative specs of dust and dirt are concentrated in the film's opening scenes and particularly around reel changes during the remainder of the film. I didn't notice any reel change markings, thankfully. Fades between scenes are a bit clunky. Source print damage can be seen here and there, such as scratches at 57:20 of disc one and water damage for several minutes around 72:00 of disc one.

    The optional English subtitles are comprised of a white font with a black outline. The text is fairly easy to follow, but seems to only roughly follow the spoken word. With my limited knowledge of Russian I recognised many words and phrases that were not offered in the translation. I also noted a few minor grammatical and spelling errors in the text. There are several lengthy passages of what I presume to be Mongolian and Italian dialogue, that are not translated at all. This was pretty annoying.

    Both discs are DVD9, RSDL formatted. Neither of the layer transitions are obtrusively placed at all. Disc one's layer break is placed in a silent fade to black between scenes at 61:18. Disc two is situated at 65:48.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two soundtracks accompanying this film on DVD, both of which are in the film's original Russian language. The default soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), but is not as enticing as it sounds. The original Dolby Digital 2.0 mono is included (192Kb/s) and was my preferred.

    The dialogue is dominant and easy to discern at all times. Audio sync varies slightly, but is not too problematic.

    There's no distortion present, but a few crackles and pops can be heard on occasion. Like the video transfer, the audio suffers most around what appears to be reel transitions, resulting in a few minor dropouts here and there. I also noted some distracting phasing in the audio during the beautiful choral piece at 13:17 of disc two. These things aside, the audio is crisp and surprisingly deep in comparison to the lacklustre video.

    The surround channels aren't especially active in the Dolby Digital 5.1 option. It sounds like some attempt has been made to pan atmospherics to the rear channels, and I noticed a bit of EQ manipulation as well. I'd stick with the original mono, personally.

    The score by Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov is orchestral and grand, with beautiful, heavenly choral passages that are highly memorable. Most of the music has been transferred faithfully here with no dire complaints, aside from the distinct phasing I mentioned above.

    The subwoofer isn't given any work at all.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu pages are a little on the rudimentary side, but they do the job. There is some subtle animation and audio in the main pages as well as the chapter selections. Extra features are spread all over the place rather than being listed properly in the extras menu, so you need to do a bit of hunting to find everything. Only the menu pages are 16x9 enhanced.

Disc One

Interview- Marina Tarkovskaya (2:00)

    Marina (sister of Andrei Tarkovsky) speaks of the moral struggles her brother had to deal with as a film maker, as well as his strategies involving the ever-present critics.

Biographies & Filmographies-Cast & Crew (7)

    Several pages of text for each, covering their career highs and lows.

  1. Andrei Tarkovsky (Director)
  2. Vadim Yusov (Director of Photography)
  3. Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov (Composer)
  4. Nikolai Grinko (Actor)
  5. Nikolai Sergeyev (Actor)
  6. Irma Raush (Actress)
  7. Rolan Bykov (Actor)

Trailers (5)

    You'll find these scattered throughout the filmography pages, just highlight the "announcement" text to access.

  1. The Mirror (2:37)
  2. Solaris (3:12)
  3. War & Peace (4:09)
  4. Stalker (3:30)
  5. The Commissar (1:32)

Gallery-Stills (10)

    Ten individual promotional stills, taken from the film.

Featurettes (5 "Etudes")

    These can be found in the scene selection menu pages. Most are beyond the bizarre and are offered here without explanation.

  1. An excerpt from Ivan the Terrible (1:37), directed by Sergei Eisenstein. Some familiar frescos are visible.
  2. Frescos by Theophanus (6:54)
  3. Interview- A. Komov, maker of the monument to Andrei Rublev (2:44)
  4. An example of a contemporary pagan festival (2:36). Looks like amateur video footage to me.
  5. An announcement from the Union of Militant Atheists (6:25). Comes across very silly, like something the Pythons would concoct.

Disc Two

Featurette-Making Of (5:16)

    Silent, colour footage of Tarkovsky on set, giving direction to his actors, as well as some vision of makeup effects and stunts in action. A clip from the score acts as audio accompaniment.

Interview- Yuri Nazarov (4:27)

    Yuri reveals how he came to know the director and goes to some length explaining the historical timeline of events that the film covers.

Biographies & Filmographies-Cast & Crew (8)

    Several pages of text for each, covering their career output.

  1. Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky (Scriptwriter)
  2. Anatoly Solonitsyn (Actor)
  3. Ivan Lapikov (Actor)
  4. Nikolai Burlyaev (Actor)
  5. Nikolai Grabbe (Actor)
  6. Yuri Nazarov (Actor)
  7. Yuri Nikulin (Actor)
  8. Mikhail Kononov (Actor)

Trailers (5)

    You'll find these scattered throughout the filmography pages, just highlight the "announcement" text to access.

  1. Siberiade (2:20)
  2. At Home Among Strangers, A Stranger Among His Own People (2:32)
  3. The Diamond Arm (2:48) (This one looks great!)

Gallery-Stills (10)

    Ten individual promotional stills, captured behind the scenes.

Featurettes (3 "Etudes")

    These can be found in the scene selection menu pages. Most are beyond the bizarre and are offered here without explanation.

  1. The Mongol invasions (8:41)
  2. A closer look at frescos by Rublev and his contemporaries (5:10)
  3. Bells (3:36)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As is often the case, the benchmark here is the Region 1 Criterion disc of 1999. Despite its lack of 16x9 enhancement, the film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect, and in an extended form (205:41 NTSC). It should be noted that Tarkovsky was responsible for all of the cuts that have taken place throughout the years and had stated categorically that he is content with the shortened version of the film we have on our disc. Criterion's extended version is also referred to as the "Scorsese cut", because it is said that Scorsese smuggled the print out of Russia himself. The following extras are included:

    The Ruscico and Lizard editions (174:36) include additional interviews with Cinematographer Vadim Yusov (43:08) and historical consultant Saveli Yamschikov (36:20).

    The French MK2 edition is another rendition of the Ruscico transfer, with forced subtitles.

    Ours appears to be a combination of the Ruscico transfer (vertically stretched, distorted) and the French MK2 edition's extras. It's a difficult decision, because hardcore fans of the film will want each version for different reasons. Here's hoping Criterion add a full anamorphic restoration of their extended cut to their schedule soon.

Summary

    Andrei Rublev is an astounding work of genius. Can somebody give this film the release it deserves?

    The transfer is below average, even when taking into account the film's age.

    The extras look good in print, but aren't all that substantial, really.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Friday, September 07, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using HDMI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3806 (7.1 Channels)
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora III floor-standing Mains and Surrounds. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Center. Mirage 10 inch powered sub.

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