My 7 Dinners With Andrei #7: The Sacrifice + Final Thoughts

Rigged to burn you up.

The infamous final scenes of The Sacrifice consist of a cabin that was rigged to burn down in a certain amount of time, and when it didn’t do so properly, they rebuilt the entire thing from scratch and did it again. That brand of perfectionism hints at someone who could not and would not compromise their vision of someone coping with the inevitable nuclear holocaust, a bargaining with God that would put Ingmar Bergman’s psychotic visions to shame. In a sense, we begin at the end, with the credits showing us medieval icons in the same vein as Andrei Rublev.

The Sacrifice is all about breakdowns, from the filmmaker himself being on the verge of death from lung cancer, to the opening scene talking about the importance of rituals while a man tries to plant a tree in a barren, quiet field. It feels like a quiet step back into something smaller scale after the grandness of everything post-Ivan’s Childhood (complete with shots of a forest, and the same visions we saw in Mirror and Stalker if you take a certain point of view of it), and I admit to feeling some confusion over the protagonist’s shifting moods and needs between the scenes, with a sex scene resulting in them floating above the bed in a way that strikes me as the director either developing a sense of humor very late in his career or struggling with his mother issues some more. You could set aside a lot of this movie when having a discussion with regards to it, but the stuff that sticks really haunts, with the director’s anger and regret over the mistakes in his life coming out in an overflow, his hatred of people simply relying on their words to make a point rather than going out and changing the world to make it a better place, one less filled with miserable people. This is a remarkably dense piece of work, with the accessibility being so abstract as to render everything as feeling rather irrelevant. It is very easy to find the connections to this and the other six, however, if you think of what influenced this director, from something as simple as an embrace of a woman to the horrors of war and technology, a desire to return to a different age, torn between color and black and white visuals, while acknowledging its huge, fundamentally violent problems.

And here is my final ranking for the road:
1. Andrei Rublev (10/10)
2. Solaris (10/10)
3. Nostalghia (10/10)
4. Mirror (9/10)
5. Stalker (9/10)
6. Ivan’s Childhood (9/10)
7. The Sacrifice (9/10)


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