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Alexander, a journalist and former actor and philosopher, tells his little son how worried he is about the lack of spirituality of modern mankind. In the night of his birthday, the third world war breaks out. In his despair Alexander turns himself in a prayer to God, offering him everything to have the war not happen at all.Written by
Gert de Boer
If you give this film the attention and patience it deserves, you will be greatly rewarded.
Please forgive this disorganized, vague rambling...it is difficult to put into words what this film has done for me, as it is a spiritual experiment in time and character more than it is a traditional film.
I will say right off that this movie is not for everyone. Tarkovsky is a fan of long takes, slow character development and awkward silences. Even though this is one of my favourite films, it was a struggle to get through the whole thing...which is, in fact, an effective medium to describe a man who is finding it a struggle to progress with his everyday life. The settings are fittingly dreary and dismal; indeed, his son seems to be the only spark of life in the film.
There is no plot to speak of; the film is an in-depth character study. Tarkovsky has given the main character so many dimensions that one cannot help but wonder if it is semi-autobiographical. Elements of magic realism serve to enhance the character's despair and isolation, but there are finely-crafted human details -- such as a shaking hand that must try twice to light a match properly -- that give the film a very realistic sense. The world Tarkovsky has created is like a vivid dream.
The images in this movie are incredible: watch for his use of fire, wood, earth and water, for all four elements are heavily drawn upon in his shots.
There is a documentary floating around out there that has Tarkovsky discuss this film in depth; it shows the processes he invented to create some of the takes, and the stubbornness he exhibits to get everything to match his vision perfectly. I saw the documentary before the film, and I think it only added to my appreciation. His book, "Sculpting in Time," also offers insights and bits of philosophy that add dimensions to this movie.
Though I regret that Tarkovsky passed before he could produce more works like this, "The Sacrifice" is a fitting epilogue to his collection of films, and perhaps the best eulogy a person could ever hope for.
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