Andrei Rublev (Russian: Андрей Рублёв) is a 1969 Soviet biographical historical drama film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky and co-written with Andrei Konchalovsky. The film was remade and re-edited from the 1966 film titled The Passion According to Andrei by Tarkovsky which was censored during the first decade of the Breshnev era in the Soviet Union. The film is loosely based on the life of Andrei Rublev, the 15th-century Russian icon painter. The film features Anatoly Solonitsyn, Nikolai Grinko, Ivan Lapikov, Nikolai Sergeyev, Nikolai Burlyayev and Tarkovsky’s wife Irma Raush. Savva Yamshchikov, a famous Russian restorer and art historian, was a scientific consultant of the film.
Andrei Rublev is set against the background of 15th-century Russia. Although the film is only loosely based on the life of Andrei Rublev, it seeks to depict a realistic portrait of medieval Russia. Tarkovsky sought to create a film that shows the artist as “a world-historic figure” and “Christianity as an axiom of Russia’s historical identity” during a turbulent period of Russian history that ultimately resulted in the Tsardom of Russia. The film’s themes include artistic freedom, religion, political ambiguity, autodidacticism, and the making of art under a repressive regime. Because of this, it was not released domestically in the officially atheist Soviet Union for years after it was completed, except for a single 1966 screening in Moscow. A version of the film was shown at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the FIPRESCI prize. In 1971, a censored version of the film was released in the Soviet Union. The film was further cut for commercial reasons upon its U.S. release through Columbia Pictures in 1973. As a result, several versions of the film exist.
Although these issues with censorship obscured and truncated the film for many years following its release, the film was soon recognized by many western critics and film directors as a highly original and accomplished work. Even more since being restored to its original version, Andrei Rublev has come to be regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, and has often been ranked highly in both the Sight & Sound critics’ and directors’ polls.