Andrei Tarkovsky’s epic film about Andrei Roublev, Russia’s most famous icon painter, is a remarkable, deeply reflexive examination of the artist’s role in his particular social-historical reality. It is also concerned with the split that occurs between an artist’s elevated desire to create an art of clear, transcendent beauty and one that is responsive to the immediate world as it is: characterised by violence and suffering. Although Tarkovsky’s film is suffused with an idiosyncratically heroic vision of the artist, its insistence on an art informed by the world as it is rather than as we might like it to be, informs and problematises its content, immediate context and reception. Its titular character, the young Monk Roublev, renounces his art in the face of its apparent irrelevance to reality, and then wanders through the film/world in often-silent observation. The film itself presented a very different vision of heroism and history than the one desired by Soviet film and state authorities of the time. It also confounded the expectations of audiences awaiting an exotic widescreen epic about a famous Russian artist from the Middle Ages.