As Andrei Tarkovsky reached the end of his career, a combination of voluntary exile from his Motherland and a growing degree of introspection had a profound influence on his filmmaking. He shot Sacrifice, which was to be his final film, in Sweden. Using many of Ingmar Bergman’s collaborators, it’s a film which shares much with the work of the great Swedish director.
It’s Alexander’s (Erland Josephson) birthday. To anyone on the outside looking in, it would appear that the ageing intellectual has a perfect life. He loves in a beautiful house with his actress wife (Susan Fleetwood), step-daughter (Filippa Franzén) and young son. However, Alexander is weary of the relentless rise of technology, the march of progress and the discord within his family. He’s also no longer feels any connection with God. After a premonition about a nuclear Hollocaust, Alexander vows to God that he will sacrifice all he loves in order to prevent it.
Sacrifice won Tarkovsky a raft of awards, including his second Grand Prix at Cannes. Building on some of the themes of his previous narrative feature Nostalgia, Tarkovky channels many of his own frustrations through Alexander. As you’d expect, it looks stunning. However, much of the colour was drained out in the editing stage to give a more meditative and considered feel. Sacrifice is yet another great Tarkovsky film, focusing more on the dialogue than the aesthetics.
The Sacrifice is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Curzon Artificial Eye on Monday.