Friday, 25 March 2011

Andrei Rublev: The Russian Blu-Ray

Last year I posted some news about a new Russian Region-free Blu-ray of Tarkovsky's great masterpiece Andrei Rublev. Finally I got round to picking up the disc and I must say I'm delighted I did. The transfer based on an immaculate 2004 restoration at Mosfilm is absolutely beautiful with a staggering level of detail, far superior to the now ancient Criterion DVD which now looks quite weak by comparison. Detail is especially rewarding in the big crowd scenes of the Tartar Invasion and The Bell sequences. Contrast levels could perhaps be enhanced, black levels in two short shots look slightly weak, but on the whole it's insignificant. The final sequence in color, looks more vibrant than previously seen but still looks a little faded, although I suspect it has always looked like this...

Sound is also very impressive and the film's audiomix buzzes with subtle ambient details - birdsong, background voices etc, while the choral music sounds clear and robust. For English-speaking viewers, the English subtitles are perfectly sized and appear just above and below the bottom frame line, well placed and non-intrusive on the picture. For the most part all the dialogue is translated, some of the incidental dialogue by the Tartar invaders goes untranslated although I'm not entirely if the same case applies to the Criterion disc. The subtitle track has an American English bias - in one case a character say "Gee, I've lost my whip" and in another scenes someone refers to "those guys", but these instances are few and far between and I mention it only out of completeness.

Unlike the previous DVD from Russico, the menu is in Russian only but the menu defaults to the Start Film option when it opens up. The English subtitle track is the first subtitle option and I found it right away using the remote. I don't believe there are any extras on the disc but it hardly matters considering the excellent presentation.

Andrei Rublev Blu-Ray is available from some Russian e-stores, which have tricky non-English friendly ordering processes. I got my copy from an ebay shop that specializes in Russian films. I received my copy within 10-14 working days and the disc arrived sealed, in a padded envelope.