At the dawn of World War III, a man searches for a way to restore peace to the world and finds he must give something in return.At the dawn of World War III, a man searches for a way to restore peace to the world and finds he must give something in return.At the dawn of World War III, a man searches for a way to restore peace to the world and finds he must give something in return.
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.
- Jun 8, 2004