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      The Sacrifice

      PG Released May 9, 1986 2h 25m Drama List
      86% Tomatometer 43 Reviews 90% Audience Score 5,000+ Ratings Alexander (Erland Josephson) is celebrating his birthday with family and friends when they receive some stunning news from the radio. World War III has erupted, and the end of the world is near. In order to avert the apocalypse, Alexander makes a bargain with God: He'll give up everything he values in life, including his beautiful home and beloved son (Tommy Kjellqvist). So, when Alexander awakens from this episode, as if from a dream, he sets about doing just that. Read More Read Less

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      Critics Consensus

      Formally impressive, visually accomplished, and narratively rewarding, The Sacrifice places a fittingly solid capstone on a brilliant filmmaking career.

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      Critics Reviews

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      Penelope Houston Sight & Sound There are echoes of Bergman (of course) and of Chekhov, and once or twice I found myself thinking, most unexpectedly, of Heartbreak House. Jul 7, 2018 Full Review Chris Vognar Dallas Morning News This is pure Tarkovsky, with all the perfectly composed long camera takes and ineffable mystery of the soul that defined his work. Jun 7, 2018 Full Review Richard Corliss TIME Magazine In The Sacrifice, the cryptic Tarkovsky style helps create a towering cathedral. Aug 4, 2015 Full Review Laurie Horn Miami Herald The most lasting answers in The Sacrifice ultimately are not the verbal questions that confound [Tarkovsky], but the visual beauties, one by one, that he shows us so clearly. Rated: 3/4 May 19, 2023 Full Review Tim Brayton Alternate Ending A plentiful and elaborate work of art... Still, a lot of the scenario is rather trite. Rated: 4/5 Jun 5, 2020 Full Review Ángel Fernández-Santos El Pais (Spain) A film by a genius because of its gravity and difficulty, packed with a conceptual density and bearer of a quiet scream of a desperate optimism. [Full Review in Spanish] Mar 10, 2020 Full Review Read all reviews

      Audience Reviews

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      dave s Shot by cinematographer Sven Nykvist, an Ingmar Bergman mainstay, starring Erland Josephson, another Bergman regular, and shot in a remote area of Sweden, it's no wonder Andrei Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice looks and feels like a Bergman film. Despite being one of Tarkovsky's lesser-known films, it is filled with complex themes and stark images, including the haunting climax, reminiscent of the burning house scene from Tarkovsky's earlier film, The Mirror. The plot? A small group of friends and family gather for a birthday celebration, only to discover via a radio announcement that WW3 has commenced and nuclear annihilation is imminent, forcing them to come to terms with their own mortality. For those not familiar with Tarkovsky's work, be prepared for some lengthy but wildly effective shots, meticulous composition and plenty of philosophical musings. Like all of Tarkovsky's work, it is brilliant throughout. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review William L Two outs, bottom of the ninth, and The Sacrifice scores: this was the last Tarkovsky feature film I had not seen, but it was the first to put me to sleep. I was worried it would never happen. I had to do a double-take initially because about half an hour in, The Sacrifice looked superficially like an Ingmar Bergman film, with a mildly dysfunctional family of bourgeoisie falling apart due to deep emotional problems, but a deeper look reveals classic Tarkovsky material - concerns with a world out of balance, the inherent weakness of human nature, and surreal imagery that calls to mind deeper questions about philosophy and the human psyche. With characters forced to reflect on their existences now that they are all in mortal danger from a threat that they cannot stop, Tarkovsky examines personal ambition and purpose set against the framework of a larger world that threatens to leave any one member behind (themes that may very well have been on the director's mind with his untimely cancer diagnosis); exasperated, regretful, and filled with new and strange purpose, our protagonists begin exhibiting unusual behavior in an attempt to refocus their perspectives that have quickly become painfully outdated. There are musings on Christianity (or more likely, any deity of choice), as one of perhaps many potentially valid spiritual constants that may each be true; the unknowability of it is key and terrifying. One of the less immediately idiosyncratic films from the director from a thematic perspective, but visually much of Tarkovsky's talent remains on display, even without the need for a diverse range of distinctive setpieces. (4/5) Rated 4 out of 5 stars 06/22/22 Full Review lucca b Its slow and grueling pace, ominous and surreal atmosphere, and an ambiguous and minimalist narrative will not be suitable for some. However, its excellent performances, stunning cinematography, well-crafted production, religious and mystical allegories, stylish filmmaking, impressive visuals and complex themes make it a powerful and rewarding watch, and a fitting farewell for the legendary Andrei Tarkovsky. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member A beautiful film. Visually poetic. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/09/23 Full Review raphael g Beautiful, although long and slow. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member The cinematography of the film is sublime, as is usual with Tarkovsky. The film's message was hot garbage though. The film entirely enraptured my attention; I even enjoyed the philosophic banter. That is, until the scene where Alexander's friend Otto, comes up with a plan to avert the consequences of WWIII and save the entire world. Simply, he must fuck his witchy servant girl named Maria (the virgin Mary lol). Apparently, the way to escape death, for old men, is to get their dick wet in much younger women and also destroy their connection to their family in the process. I'm sure it was a huge sacrifice for the protagonist to sneak out and fuck his servant; way to take one for the team. I do find it amusing that they had to shoot that burning house scene twice, rebuilding the entire thing, because Tarkovsky wouldn't listen to his cinematographer about having two cameras working at once. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 01/15/23 Full Review Read all reviews
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      55% 57% King Lear 86% 75% Eleni 43% 69% Amazing Grace and Chuck 89% 74% Testament 94% 77% The Dead Discover more movies and TV shows. View More

      Movie Info

      Synopsis Alexander (Erland Josephson) is celebrating his birthday with family and friends when they receive some stunning news from the radio. World War III has erupted, and the end of the world is near. In order to avert the apocalypse, Alexander makes a bargain with God: He'll give up everything he values in life, including his beautiful home and beloved son (Tommy Kjellqvist). So, when Alexander awakens from this episode, as if from a dream, he sets about doing just that.
      Director
      Andrei Tarkovsky
      Producer
      Anna-Lena Wibom
      Screenwriter
      Andrei Tarkovsky
      Distributor
      Orion Pictures
      Production Co
      Josephson & Nykvist HB, Sandrews, Svenska Filminstitutet, Sveriges Television, Argos Films, Film Four International
      Rating
      PG
      Genre
      Drama
      Original Language
      Swedish
      Release Date (Theaters)
      May 9, 1986, Original
      Rerelease Date (Theaters)
      Oct 20, 2017
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Dec 5, 2016
      Box Office (Gross USA)
      $61.0K
      Runtime
      2h 25m
      Aspect Ratio
      35mm
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