Compared with the epic works such as Andrei Rublev and even Stalker, Tarkovsky's last film seems narratively simpler. His roving and constantly shifting images become, in the hands of cinematographer Sven Nykvist (also Ingmar Bergman's cinematographer), a series of longer and more focused scenes; in a film of 149 minutes there are, reportedly, only 115 shots.
The day in which the film begins is Alexander's 50th birthday, and all have gathered here to endure a celebratory dinner. At this point, however, Tarkovsky turns the tables, so to speak. What has been a Chekov-like family comedy-drama is suddenly transformed into an international event as the radio and television, in blips of static, report that the world is on the throes of another great War, with the certainty of a nuclear holocaust.
Los Angeles, April 15, 2010
When I first saw The Sacrifice years earlier, I was immensely moved by it, and had the feeling that when I fell asleep that night that I dreamt the movie all over again, as if it had somehow rewound itself in my head. I did not know at that time that Tarkovsky had had a somewhat similar instance occur during the work's filming. When they first attempted to film the burning house, the camera jammed, and they lost the crucial shot. At great expense and time that Tarkovsky, ill during the shooting, did not have, they rebuilt the house and filmed the scene again with two cameras.
Los Angeles, April 16, 2010