The Sacrifice (15)

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The Independent Culture

Andrei Tarkovsky's final film he died of cancer in Paris in 1986 is an austere and appropriate rumination on leave-taking and loss. In a house on the south Swedish coast, a retired actor (Erland Josephson) presides over a Chekhovian ensemble of variously unhappy guests, including his unfaithful wife, her lover, and his daughter. On the TV they hear reports of an imminent apocalypse, at which the old man offers himself in sacrifice to the Almighty if He will spare humanity.

As the director himself put it, "I wanted to show that a man can renew his ties to life by renewing his covenant with himself and with the source of his soul." I wonder if Richard Kelly, whose Southland Tales is also about the end of the world, would understand that. He would certainly benefit being made to watch this, because it would offer him and many other young film-makers invaluable pointers on narrative patience, spiritual yearning and technical finesse.

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