The Poetry of Apocalypse: The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky

The Sacrifice


Andrei TarkovskySweden / France150 minutes1986PGColourSwedish

Nov 19
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Tarkovsky's final film is a magisterial summation of his work, both testament and epitaph. Alexander (Erland Josephson), a tortured former actor and scholar living an isolated existence with his friends and family on the desolate Swedish island of Gotland, makes a pact with God after a distant nuclear attack makes the end of the world seem inevitable: he will renounce family, possessions and self if the world is saved. The themes of apocalypse and the redemptive innocence of childhood, of muteness and (holy) madness, of magic, memory, and dreams, are classic Tarkovsky, and the film is full of imagery that recalls The Mirror (including a levitating Icelandic witch), Stalker, and Nostalghia. Shot by Bergman's favourite cinematographer Sven Nykvist in otherworldly northern light, The Sacrifice is bracketed by two of the longest (and riskiest) takes in the history of narrative cinema. "Not to be missed by anyone who cares about the cinema as an art form.... An intensely moving and humanistic document" (John Harkness, NOW Magazine).