The Sacrifice (1986) – A Prayer to God


Loops, patterns, all seem to be repeated. You wake up in the morning, take your son for a walk to plant a Japanese plant. Suddenly, you greet your friend who takes a morning walk on a bicycle. You talk about the world, God, death, and the future. When you get home, your family and friends give you a present. You also talk about complicated things whether it’s politics, philosophy, God, life, and so on. Suddenly, a jet fighter glided flying right on the house roof. Your family and friends feel depressed because of the news from the TV they watch. You asked: what happened? Suddenly, they answered World War III is began.

You still can’t believe yourself, this world, everyone, and everything. Your wife is desperate and wants to just kill herself. You try to calm her down even though you can’t get out of the fact you’re so scared. You’re very scared to death. Furthermore, no one can help, resolve, or prevent the incident. You can only pray to God, only pray, pray, pray, and even you try to sacrifice yourself. If you can’t sacrifice yourself, you only want to sacrifice your loved ones. Your house, your surroundings, your hometown, your scenery, everything was put on the table. However, you can only wheeze, squeak, fear, panic, etc. about this incident.

Sven Nykvist, the cinematographer of Ingmar Bergman, and Erland Josephson, an actor who starred in so many Bergman films, joined together with Andrei Tarkovsky. He came to Sweden to shoot a movie on Faroe, the island where Ingmar Bergman lives. It’s resulted in “The Sacrifice”, one of the most poetic films ever. If it’s not poetic, it’s the most humanistic, dark, beautiful, unsettling, quiet, loud, scary, frustrating, mysterious, gorgeous, profound movie you have ever seen. Like Bergman, Tarkovsky is a genius director. He is the greatest filmmaker from Russia, standing outside the arena with his spiritual materialism and consciousness. With this work, I can say, together with “Stalker”, if Tarkovsky is just so, so a guy. He can do what we always admit with his beliefs and philosophical despite anything.

The movie involves a deterrence of a catastrophe of World War III before it happens and before humanity turns vacant again. After watching a jet plane fly low right on the roof of their house, the news of television shows if the war did happen. However, has none of this ever happened? What about his mission to prevent all this? Did it work? Is World War III truly unprecedented? After all, he could only give his life, everything about him as the bait or the sacrifice. Did he witness more than World War III? Would it be any more hurt or sacrifice to offer? Is it all repeated?

Most of Andrei Tarkovsky’s works are hard to sit and watch through. It’s not a movie to watch like most modern movies in general. Yet, there is a moment where you must think about what happened. I prefer this film as a relationship between humans and God indirectly. It’s like a film about the last testament where you can enjoy every second of the substance. Especially when Tarkovsky used so many long beautiful shots with wide shots by the camera, there is much more to identify than to watch this movie as part of the character; as in, you can see this film from literature by Friedrich Nietzsche or other philosophical books.

The protagonist, the protagonist’s wife, his son, his friends, his delivery man, his son, his belief, his favorite Japanese tree, there is a limited age. You can’t keep one forever. There would always be a sacrifice we must do either forcefully, inevitably, or surrender. Elegantly, every character speaks like he is not a human. They start conversations with each other with a unique topic. They used to talk about life, the quality of ways, the future, and so many more. In specific conversations, they only do small talks but it’s so deep in so many ways. This is one of the movies you watch until ten times and you always find it in-between, liked, hated, or nothing.

“The Sacrifice” is not a movie most people want to see, will see, want to like, want to hate, or so. Your times are worthy of it but it depends what your reaction to this movie as well. It’s about a man who sacrifices himself so that the event is never triggered. But, it’s about another story as well, more than just a premise. Movies don’t always work as a mindset to fix with what this movie wants to you. This kind of movie is like the supernatural and epitome, always constantly working in your brain like magic. That’s why I love “Stalker” and maybe also with Andrei Tarkovsky films that I haven’t watched. It’s a sacrifice to my time.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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