Andrei Rublev is Andrei Tarkovsky at his most elemental. His later works would find themselves soaring higher into the skies, both physically (in Solaris) and spiritually (Mirror), but here he is at his most earth-bound, muddy, and avowedly religious. The ugliness of 15th century Russian life, with blood and murder aplenty—I had forgotten just how brutally violent this film is, even by today’s standards—is set against the need to create, the need to describe harmony and beauty so that insanity does not rule over us. It’s not a stretch to imagine Tarkovsky saw aspects of himself in the little-known historical figure that is Andrei Rublev the icon-painter. Along with the rest of Tarkovsky’s Russian oeuvre, Andrei Rublev stands at the very peak of cinema.