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also known as Offret

The Sacrifice 1986

  • 4.3
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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"[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

3 members like this review

Plunge into the depths of your own sub-conscious with Andrei Tarkovsky. All of his films demand multiple viewings.

top reviewer

Member Reviews (9)

top reviewer

Plunge into the depths of your own sub-conscious with Andrei Tarkovsky. All of his films demand multiple viewings.

3 members like this review
top reviewer

Absolutely magnificent masterpiece.

2 members like this review

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.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

I've read enough about this movie to know that by bailing out early I may very well have missed out on some special moments of artistic creativity and spirituality. But early in this film, Alexander says he wishes that somebody would stop talking and actually do something. After another half hour passed, I was still thinking the same thing!

What makes Tarkovsky's work so brilliant, in each of his films, is he takes time to create a mood, casting what at times feel like, a spell, over his viewers. In this brilliant film, Tarkovsky offers the viewer a real horror story, done so with finesse, style, and stunning cinematography. "The Sacrifice" takes its time in developing it's mood, feel and ultimately horrific payoff, however, the film is extraordinary, striking and one you will never forget. A real masterwork by a master filmmaker.

__Or maybe 31/2 stars! Certainly keeps you guessing; as it turns out anything can happen in this storyline.

Because this film is regarded widely as a masterpiece, I have tried and failed three--THREE!--times to get through it. Indeed it is admirable, if ponderous and affected is your sort of thing. But I was utterly miserable--except when I detected kulning, floating over the horizon, very early in the story. Really it's worth getting that far, just to hear that.

One of my favorite films. Who gave it 2 stars? Not I!

spiritual, prolific, poetic, human nature, truth


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