The following correspondence is reproduced here with the kind permission of the author.

From   : Richard Malloy 
To     : [via DVDBeaver]
Date   : Sat, 8 Mar 2003 19:55:49 -0500
Subject: New "RUBLEV" print

I saw the 10:30am screening of "ANDREI RUBLEV"  at  the  MFA  today--a
nice  time  of the day for an epic film, particularly since the DVD is
usually a wee hours experience for me.  It was extra special  as  Vida
Johnson was present to introduce the movie, and stayed afterward for a
discussion unfortunately  truncated  in  deference  to  the  afternoon
screening of "THE SACRIFICE".

How to rate the print?  It's evidently struck from the very same print
that   the  Criterion  transfer  was  derived  from--or  of  the  same
lineage--as the same tell-tale  defects  cropped  up.   I  was  a  bit
letdown  at  first  considering  the  many  speckles  and blotches and
rattling in the gate and overall soft title cards--not as good as  the
Criterion  transfer?   The  entire  opening  sequence was fairly rough
going, with an annoyingly loud "flutter" accompanying the  soundtrack,
nearly  a  loud  buzz  that  would have driven me nuts had it not soon
after faded  away  (during  the  Jester's  song,  or  just  before,  I

But this was blown up on a fairly large screen.  Not enormous  like  a
megaplex,  but  no  dinky  rolldown affair.  The MFA screening room is
fairly impressive, better than the Brattle or Coolidge IMO.  I suppose
I  should  mention it was packed, as well.  Not entirely sold-out, but
it drew a far  bigger  crowd  than  I'm  used  to  seeing.   Anyway...
projected  large,  I  was seeing detail and information that I'd never
previously noticed.  This wasn't so bad, after all.

While the screen was occasionally swarmed  with  speckles  throughout,
and  though  the  same  defects  as present on the Criterion disc were
present here (dropped frames as the monks  walk  along  the  riverside
after leaving  the tavern: check!  Splotch attack after Foma leaves to
accept his own commission: check!),  there began to occur rather  long
sequences  that  seemed an improvement over the Criterion transfer, an
improvement in definition and detail which I couldn't help  but  think
might  be even more pronounced when translated to the small screen and
after a bit of digital scrubbing.  But most sequences seemed  not  too
different from the DVD.  As Andrei joins the St.  John's Eve revelers,
it's still  murky,  indistinct,  only  the  brightest  details  easily
apparent...   but  again,  projected LARGE.  An experience quite a bit
more impressive than the disc.

"The Bell" was the sequence probably in the  most  impressive  overall
condition.   Very  good shadow detail, excellent sense of texture, and
one can really peer well into the distance of those long,  long  shots
across  the  meadows and hilltops.  The final montage of Rublev's work
focusing on the Trinity is less saturated than on the Criterion  disc,
the  reds  and  blues, golds and ambers, not quite as pronounced.  The
final shot of the grazing horses is also more  monochromatic  than  on
the Criterion disc, but not black-and-white as on the Ruscico.

Vida Johnson spoke briefly, though we all wanted to  go  longer.   She
was  an  animated  personality,  clearly  happy  to  be there and very
interested in talking about the  film.   She  started  by  noting  the
animal  cruelty issues, evidently expecting some questions about that,
explaining that the cow was covered in asbestos and the horse  was  on
his  way  to  the rendering plant.  If anyone was expecting a row over
it, it didn't materialize.  No  further  comment.   A  few  questions.
Someone suggested that Tarkovsky's fascination with paganism seemed to
presage ecofeminism  and  earth  goddess  worship (uh-oh!).  Professor
Johnson  noted  that Tarkovsky said late in his life that he preferred
the shorter version,  which  she  characterized  as  containing  fewer
instances  of cruelty and violence and elliptical asides, but which in
her opinion did not diminish the film.  I suggested that some  of  the
cuts  seemed  less  justifiable,  particularly those of a more prudish
nature (the bare-assed Jester's punchline,  nudity  during  the  pagan
revelries,  etc.),  as well as the truncated tracking shots, 360degree
pans, etc., which did seem to diminish the film for me if only in  the
sense  that  it  was  less  typically Tarkovskyan.  Did she think he'd
merely come to terms with something that might have been  well  beyond
his  control?   She  never  answered  that, specifically, but was very
interested in following the thought, conceding on the  one  hand  that
she was less familiar with the longer cut, but also noting the 360-pan
in "Nostalghia" and the ultimate, long-take Tarkovsky tracking shot in
"The Sacrifice" ("which many of you are here to see in a few moments")
and becoming even more animated and exuberant than  before.   She  was
cooking,   things  were  getting  interesting...   but  after  another
question, one of those in the audience who'd  just  arrived  for  "THE
SACRIFICE"  asked  if we could continue the discussion after the film.
And that finally broke it up.

Looking forward to "MIRROR".


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