The Sacrifice

November 1st, 1986


The Sacrifice

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Alexander, a journalist and former actor and philosopher, tells his little son how worried he is about the lack of spirituality of modern mankind...

Release Year: 1986

Rating: 8.0/10 (6,641 voted)

Director: Andrey Tarkovskiy

Stars: Erland Josephson, Susan Fleetwood, Allan Edwall

Alexander, a journalist and former actor and philosopher, tells his little son how worried he is about the lack of spirituality of modern mankind. In the night of his birthday, the third world war breaks out. In his despair Alexander turns himself in a prayer to God, offering him everything to have the war not happen at all.

Erland Josephson - Alexander
Susan Fleetwood - Adelaide
Allan Edwall - Otto
Guðrún Gísladóttir - Maria (as Guðrún S. Gísladóttir)
Sven Wollter - Victor
Valérie Mairesse - Julia
Filippa Franzén - Marta
Tommy Kjellqvist - Gossen
Per Källman - Ambulansförare
Tommy Nordahl - Ambulansförare
Tintin Anderzon - (voice)
Helena Brodin - (voice)
Birgit Carlstén - (voice)
Jane Friedmann - (voice)
Martin Lindström - (voice)

Release Date: November 1986

Filming Locations: Filmhusateljéerna, Filmhuset, Svenska Filminstitutet, Gärdet, Stockholm, Stockholms län, Sweden

Gross: $300,653 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

The part where Alexanders tells Little Man about when they found their house, is actually the true story of how Andrey Tarkovskiy and his wife, Larisa Tarkovskaya, found their house in the USSR.

[first lines]
Alexander: Come here and give me a hand, my boy.

User Review

A perfect example of the difference between true cinema and the Big Macs that Hollywood feeds us.


Tarkovsky's death bed film certainly lacks some of the fire and energy of his earlier work, but the story of Alexander's search for faith amidst the worst kind of madness is by no means dull. The cinematography and editing are obviously Bergman influenced, but anyone who says that it bothers them to see Tarkovsky borrow the style of another needs to learn more about Eisenstein, Kuleshov, and perhaps Wajda.

This film serves as a stark example of the real difference between the work of the European authors and Hollywood. While viewing, keep an eye on the editing. Th film opens on a five minute long shot in which it is extremely difficult to even discern which character is speaking. The scenes are made up of as few shots as possible and the shortest shot of the entire film is about 10 seconds. There are less than a dozen close ups in the entire piece, which may be why American audiences with their limited attention spans, would reject the film. The Sacrifice might not sit well with Tarkovsky purists, but it's themes and philosophy, I feel, surpass in depth, any of the master's other works.


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