Andrei Rublev was considered the most historically audacious and controversial production in the twenty-odd years since Sergei Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible, and even though it was only legendary Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky's second feature, it is looked at as being his greatest achievement, and one of the greatest art films about the life of an artist ever made. Andrei Rublev which Tarkovsky called a "film of the earth," is set against the background of 14th century Russia, as the film is only loosely based on the life of the great icon painter, and seeks to depict a bleak and violent portrait of medieval Russia
Andrei Tarkovsky wanted to create a film that showed an artist as a world-historic figure, as its story is about the essence of art and the importance of faith, showing an artist who tries to find the appropriate response to the tragedies of his time. Too experimental, too frightening, too gory, and too politically complicated, Andrei Rublev was not allowed to be released domestically in the officially atheist and authoritarian Soviet Union for years after it was completed, except for a single screening in Moscow. The films brutal depiction of violence, torture and cruelty toward animals, quickly gained controversy and gotten Tarkovsky into trouble with Soviet authorities, almost driving him into exile. And yet the film projects a sense of an entire world, a harsh and brutal force trying to assault ones senses while one views the naturalistic, disturbing and transcendental images Tarkovsky beautifully places up on the screen.