Art and Experience: When he passed away at the age of 54, Andrei Tarkovsky left a tremendous cinematic legacy with only seven feature films to his name. And his final film, “The Sacrifice,” completed just months before he would succumb to cancer, was his final masterpiece. Now, it has been newly restored and its headed back to the big screen where it deserves to be experienced.
Starring Sven Vollter, Erland Josephson, Allan Edwall, Valerie Mairesse, Gudron S Gisladottir, and Susan Fleetwood, and gorgeously shot by cinematographer Sven Nykvist, the film takes viewers to the anxious edge of World War III, where one family faces the looming horror. Here’s the official synopsis:
As a wealthy Swedish family celebrates the birthday of their patriarch Alexander, news of the outbreak of World War III reaches their remote Baltic island — and the happy mood turns to horror. The family descends into a state of psychological devastation, brilliantly evoked by Tarkovsky’s arresting palette of luminous greys washing over the bleak landscape around their home.
For Alexander, a philosopher troubled about man’s lack of spirituality, the prospect of certain extinction compels the ultimate sacrifice, and he enters into a Faustian bargain with God to save his loved ones from the fear which grips them. The director’s last film, made as he was dying of cancer, The Sacrifice is Tarkovsky’s personal statement, a profoundly moving, redemptive tragedy steeped in unforgettable imagery and heart-wrenching emotion.
“The Sacrifice” plays the New York Film Festival on Saturday, October 14th and opens at Film Society Lincoln Center on October 20th, followed by The Quad on October 27th, with more cities to follow.