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Erland Josephson, Susan Fleetwood, Valérie Mairesse, Allan Edwall,
Shot in Sweden by Ingmar Bergman’s cinematographer Sven Nykvist, The Sacrifice is set in Tarkovsky country: a vast, airy home on a remote Baltic island whose shores evoke the edge of the world. A retired actor, Alexander (Erland Josephson), finds himself in retreat from the world on the occasion of his birthday celebration, elaborately orchestrated by his bourgeois family. The television and a cold wind bring news of nuclear war—and still, the family survives. But it is the moment Alexander has waited for all his life. “The issue I raise,” Tarkovsky said, “is one that to my mind is most crucial: the absence in our culture of room for a spiritual existence.” Of related interest: Chris Marker's portrait of Tarkovsky, One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich, screens in our series Reverse Angle this season.