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6,016 Ratings

The Sacrifice


Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
Sweden, France, 1986
Drama, Sci-Fi


News of WWIII breaks out during the festivities of drama critic Alexander’s birthday celebration. With the end of the world nigh, he turns to God and vows to renounce everything near and dear to him, if the war is averted.

Our take

The great Andrei Tarkovsky (Solaris, Stalker) passed away at 54 after an all-too-short career. The Sacrifice, completed while he was dying, is one of cinema’s greatest swansongs: a visual tour-de-force, and a heartbreaking goodbye from a father to a son.

The Sacrifice Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

Awards & Festivals

Cannes Film Festival

1986 | 4 wins including: Best Artistic Contribution

BAFTA Awards

1988 | Winner: Best Foreign Language Film

What remain are some of the most haunting moments of the director’s career: The sudden and uncanny desaturation of the film’s image—courtesy of master cinematographer Sven Nykvist—as Erland Josephson roams his estate in a nuclear daze; the flickering TV test pattern reflected on the family in tableau; the film’s breathtaking denouement, which never ceases to terrify me. These are the images I return to again and again.
January 15, 2016
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…Tarkovsky’s other work of exile was his haunting, supernatural-tinged last film The Sacrifice (1986), shot on the Swedish island of Gotland, and not in his native language. It looks at times like a Bergman film – not surprising given he enlisted Bergman’s brilliant cinematographer Sven Nykvist.
October 28, 2015
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Tarkovsky’s seventh and final film requires of a contemporary audience a contemporary forfeit—for the film to work, for its duration all distractions must be kept at bay. In a way, this is also the challenge facing Alexander (Bergman’s Erland Josephson), once an actor and these days a theatre critic who’s frustrated with the uselessness of words.
November 12, 2014
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