"[Andrei Tarkovsky] is the greatest Russian filmmaker since Sergei Eisenstein and yet he stands outside the Soviet tradition of materialism and dares to say that he is spiritual..." - Roger Ebert, the Chicago Sun-Times
Famed Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky's final masterpiece, THE SACRIFICE is a haunting vision of a world threatened with nuclear annihilation that inspired Andrew Sarris to proclaim, "You may find yourself moved as you have never been moved before." As a wealthy Swedish family celebrates the birthday of their patriarch Alexander (Erland Josephson), news of the outbreak of World War III reaches their remote Baltic island and the happy mood turns to horror. The family descends into a state of psychological devastation, brilliantly evoked by Tarkovsky's arresting palette of luminous greys washing over the bleak landscape around their home; the film's masterful cinematography is by Sven Nykvist, Ingmar Bergman's longtime collaborator. For Alexander, a philosopher troubled about man's lack of spirituality, the prospect of certain extinction compels the ultimate sacrifice, and he enters into a Faustian bargain with God to save his loved ones from the fear which grips them. The director's last film, made as he was dying of cancer, THE SACRIFICE is Tarkovsky's personal statement, a profoundly moving, redemptive tragedy steeped in unforgettable imagery and heart-wrenching emotion.
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As I told Judy Stone when I walked out of the morning press screening in 1986, it "blew me away." She scoffed slightly and turned away at my inarticulateness. I went back to pouring coffee and scooping popcorn. Now that I am nearly 50, and have lived, I will say that it still blows me away. A deeply resonant film, every frame and word speaks to the question, "What are the ways that we are manifestations of this life force, and what are we without it?" A perfect offering for our day-of-the-dead season, end-of-the-world month, and day of the hurricane. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily. Life is but a dream.
One of my favorite films. Who gave it 2 stars? Not I!
spiritual, prolific, poetic, human nature, truth