Some memories of watching Andrei Rublev
My introduction to films, and subsequent admiration for the same, should be attributed to my father. That is how I grew up watching the famous great fellows of Indian cinema like Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegal, Mrinal Sen, Girish Kasaravalli and Ritwik Ghatak. He is also the person who introduced me to Akira Kurosawa’s cinema. But he had left behind his active enthusiasm for films in his college days, and it had been half a decade perhaps since I last heard him excited over watching a film, or even making me watch a film.
It was very well expected that his excitement over a mere half-a-Russian-film would come as quite a surprise to me. Surprises apart, what intrigued me were his remarks, “his cinema is like poetry”. I had never seen or imagined cinema as poetry. Short films, yes. But I could not grasp sitting there with my father how a three-and-a-half hour long film could represent a poem. To make matters worse, he had forgotten the director’s name.
About two seasons later (my country has six seasons, so that would be approximately four months), I happened to see this film at my uncle’s place in New Delhi.
Initially, it seemed to be a somewhat vague attempt at abstraction, interspersed, albeit, with absolutely stunning camera work and gorgeous imagery. The first image which made me sit up and notice this film shall remain instilled in my memory forever: the horse rolling on the dry, cold, ground:
Then the moments of brilliance started coming more and more often. Woman speaking from behind a dead tree trunk, birds chirping, woman swimming past a rowing boat, horses splashing water as they gallop past the screen ….
I knew how cinema could be poetry.
Tarkovsky’s vision of life is through an ethereal lens. His images evoke feelings that are beyond the apprehension of senses. In his work on film aesthetics, Sculpting In Time, Tarkovsky writes, “The image is an impression of the truth, a glimpse of the truth permitted to us in our blindness. The incarnate image will be faithful when its articulations are palpably the expression of truth, when they make it unique, singular-as life itself is, even in its simplest manifestations.“
This film made me stop analyzing cinema like most film critics and students do. I learnt to appreciate using my instinct – that instinct which seeks the impression of beauty. I have confidence in that instinct, for beauty cannot be but the truth. An instinct that seeks beauty cannot be but true.