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 (The Village Voice) 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, CRIES AND WHSIPERS), 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 unforgettableimagery and heart-wrenching emotion.
THE SACRIFICE is so dependent upon its visuals and overall mood that any attempt at a detailed synopsis would be woefully inadequate. The willingness of Tarkovsky’s protagonist to forego all his possessions may well have sprung from the cancer-ridden director’s awareness that he, too, would soon be giving up everything to face his Maker. THE SACRIFICE won four awards at the Cannes Film Festival, including the Grand Prix.
“A stunningly beautiful film.” (The NYTimes)
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THE SACRIFICE “Offret” (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1986 / 145 mins / 18A / Swedish with English subs) Alexander is celebrating his birthday with family and friends when they receive some stunning news from the radio. World War III has erupted, and the end of the world is near. In order to avert the apocalypse, Alexander makes a bargain with God: He’ll give up everything he values in life, including his beautiful home and beloved son. So, when Alexander awakens from this episode, as if from a dream, he sets about doing just that.