The Sacrifice



Erland Josephson, Susan Fleetwood, Valérie Mairesse, Allan Edwall,

Filmed in Sweden, The Sacrifice is set in Tarkovsky country: a vast, airy home on a remote Baltic island whose shores evoke the edge of the world—much as the green acre in Solaris seemed a planet unto itself, the farther one got from Earth. Tarkovsky's protagonist here is on a journey inward. 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 for Alexander, it is the moment he has waited for all his life. He makes a bold pact with his god, in order to save his son. Sven Nykvist's cinematography faultlessly captures Tarkovsky’s “distilled, hauntingly allusive world . . . etched in a pale wintry light, and shadowy, cavernous interiors—an ambivalent, unstable grayscape that hovers in the borderland between mind and matter, idea and image” (New Yorker Films). Tarkovsky, who was suffering from cancer when he made the film and who died in 1987, in this film left a profound last testament, dedicated to his own son. “The issue I raise,” he said, “is one that to my mind is most crucial: the absence in our culture of room for a spiritual existence. . . . I wanted to show that a man can renew his ties to life by renewing his covenant with himself and with the source of his soul.”

  • Andrei Tarkovsky
  • Sven Nykvist
  • Swedish
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • Color
  • 35mm
  • 149 mins
  • Kino Lorber