The Sacrifice on Blu-ray – The DVDfever Review

The Sacrifice

The Sacrifice shows that at 149 minutes, Andrei Tarkovsky never knew the word ‘brevity’ after his first movie, Ivan’s Childhood, as those since seem to have gone on forever when they really didn’t have to.

With a number of one-take shots being his trademark feature, which continues into this final film of his, along with his other trademark of the camera frequently panning across a dolley one way left/right, The Sacrifice was clearly Tarkovsky at his most self-indulgent. There’s several scenes that just don’t make sense and seem arty for the sake of it (even though that’s often intentional), such as one where everyone’s all sat about watching a TV, and as this is Tarkovsky, he has them mostly facing away from it, with all of them looking in different directions, including one man miles from the telly! I read a description in the billing on IMDB, but I didn’t get any of thta in this. Just chalk it up to a man’s descent into madness… a very slow descent.

Later on, the main man, Alexander (Erland Josephson) is navel-gazing on his own to the point where he completely disappears up his own navel, and it made me think that the film only went on for two-and-a-half-hours because the director forgot to call “cut!”

We need an ‘un-director’s cut’, as you could trim this quite considerably, while improving it considerably.

There’s a decent theme to it, and some fantastic cinematography in the final big scene in particular, courtesy of Sven Nykvist, prior to a brief epilogue, but then if you’re watching a film and all you can thing about it is how it looks, because there’s a complete lack of story…

The film’s running time also contains approximately 30 seconds of silent, black screen after the credits end. I wouldn’t be surprised, from this director, if that was intentional.


The film is presented in the original 1.66:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and it looks a little bit soft, having been shot in film, but 30 years on, it still looks incredibly detailed, so – again as I seem to be in the minority with Tarkovsky’s work, as this one has a score of 8.2/10 on IMDB with almost 15,000 votes – fans of his will be very pleased with this release.

The audio is in DTS HD 1.0 mono. There’s no issues with it, and it’s mostly just dialogue with occasional music to it.

The extras begin, as you’d expect, with Mary Wild’s thoughts on the director:

  • Andrei Tarkovsky’s Metaphysical Dream Zone: An introduction by Mary Wild (2:35): The same intro piece from psychoanalyst Mary Wild we’ve seen on previous Tarkovsky releases, using a lot of long words where simple descriptions would suffice.

  • Andrei Tarkovsky’s Metaphysical Dream Zone Part 7: The Sacrifice (12:29): Once again, Mary Wild talks about further aspects of the film, overanalysing it, and she confused the hell out of me. As with the previous ones, I couldn’t listen to the whole piece.

  • Andrei Tarkovsky: Poetic Harmony (15:00): “What words would best describe a Tarkovsky film?”, we’re asked. Don’t tempt me 😉 With some comments from the director, himself, there is mostly commentary from film analyser Lewis Bond over his film clips, but the one thing I’ll agree with, is that Tarkovsky was unique.

    As I type, I’ve still to watch two of his films from this Curzon/Artificial Eye collection – Andrei Rublev and Mirror – and I will do, as I like to complete my film knowledge, and I’ll keep an open mind, even though I’ve mostly enjoyed them less as they’ve gone on.

  • Audio commentary: from Layla Alexandra-Garrett, who has previously produced a prize-winning memoir, Andrei Tarkovsky: The Collector of Dreams, as well as a photo album, Andrei Tarkovsky: A Photographic Chronicle of the Making of The Sacrifice. You can find out more info about her here.

The menu features clips from the film set to a piece of the score which Shazam gives me the exact info as being: MatthĂ€us-Passion BWV 244 · Oratorium In 2 Teilen, 2.Teil: Nr.47 Arie: Erbarme Dich, Mein Gott (Alt-Solo-Violine & Orchester I;1989 Digital Remaster) – Theo Altmeyer & Franz Crass & Teresa Zylis-Gara & Julia Hamari & Nicolai Gedda & Hermann Prey.

There are a bog standard 12 chapters, meaning that for such a long movie, they can be anything up to 18 minutes apart, which is ridiculous, while subtitles are in English.

The Sacrifice is out now on Blu-ray and DVD, and click on all the images and packshot in this review for the full-size versions. I’ve picked two of the stylish pictures, especially.



Detailed specs:

Running time: 149 minutes
Year: 1986 ART185BD
Released: October 3rd 2016
Chapters: 12
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 1.0 DTS HD Master Audio (Mono), DTS 1.0, Dolby Digital 1.0
Languages: Swedish, French, English (all within the film, not whole-film options)
Subtitles: English
Aspect ratio: 1.66:1 (35mm)
Disc Format: 2*BD50

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Producer: Anna-Lena Wibom
Screenplay: Andrei Tarkovsky

Alexander: Erland Josephson
Adelaide: Susan Fleetwood
Otto: Allan Edwall
Maria: GuĂ°rĂșn S GĂ­sladĂłttir
Victor: Sven Wollter
Julia: Valérie Mairesse
Marta: Filippa Franzén
Gossen: Tommy Kjellqvist
Ambulansförare: Per KÀllman
Ambulansförare: Tommy Nordahl
Voices: Tintin Anderzon, Helena Brodin, Birgit Carlstén, Jane Friedmann, Martin Lindström and Jan-Olof Strandberg