Schnabel on Tarkovsky

Bfschnabel In the Telegraph, Julian Schnabel explains to Sheila Johnston why he loves Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev:

He explains that he used to like to watch his chosen film with his children (he has five) when they were very small. Bedtime viewing chez Schnabel was unusually demanding, however. No Kung Fu Panda for his kids. Andrei Rublev is more than three hours long, in black and white, and in Russian.

“I would read the subtitles to them, as if I was reading a book,” he says.

“It’s like a fairytale – there are all these battles and things in it. And I think it affected them and informed the way they see things now.”

Andrei Tarkovsky’s film is set in medieval Russia, a country drowning in waves of invasion, plague and famine. There is much grist here for the imagination of the curious six-year-old. Boiling oil is poured down a man’s throat, a horse falls down a flight of stairs, a man’s eyes are gouged out, then the perpetrator looks around distractedly for his whip.

“He has no concern at all for what he’s done,” says Schnabel.

“The casualness of how death comes to people in the film is hauntingly real. Another moment, when a guy gets shot by an arrow and falls into the water, in slow motion, is incredibly powerful.”

It will come as no surprise that Andrei Rublev is another tale of a troubled artist: a great icon painter, and his struggles with his libido, his faith and his vocation.