The Sacrifice (1986)
The material and the trascendental
18 November 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Tarkovsky did not know that Sacrifice would be his last film when he started shooting it. Nor did he know that he was going to face so many problems with the Russian regime to get his films out, and it also happened. Andrei Tarkovsky claimed that "sacrifice" was the central theme in the life of an artist.

The imminent nuclear extermination makes Alexander (Erland Josephson) turn to the divine presence to offer his sacrifice and thus avoid the consequences. The different realities, with their respective tonalities, and the divine are mixed in this dreamlike parable about the emptiness of material life.

It is slow, complicated and philosophically theatrical; but satirical in turn. Through sequence shots of infinite length, Ordet represents a story that denotes maturity and experience on all sides. What seems to go no further than a family drama ends up becoming a battle against destiny and divinity.

However, Tarkovsky affirmed that the cinema is the only place where this duality between the real and the divine can occur (see the black and white fragments), so he does not conceive the cinema as the bearer of a single meaning. The film has two ways of interpretation: the rational, the first one we turn to, and the "divine". This event can also be seen reflected in Da Vinci's painting (multiple spaces within the same frame) and in the dead tree that is still standing. Tarkovsky connects them all through the figure of Aleksander, so that the reading is always personal.

No movie had dared to treat the subject of divinity in such a sure and absolute way as Sacrifico. His technical superiority is overwhelming and his intention very clear: materialism ends in human violence. Tarkovsky has managed to transcend that decision with Sacrifice. The choice is now ours.
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