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The Sacrifice, director Andrei Tarkovsky's final film, begins in Bergmanesque fashion on a small, remote island, where friends and family gather for drama critic Alexander's (Erland Josephson) birthday celebration. The revelry is interrupted by a radio announcement: World War III has begun, and Mankind is only hours away from utter annihilation. Each of the guests reacts differently to the news: the most dramatic response is Alexander's, who promises God that he'll give up everything he holds dear—including his beloved 6-year-old son — if war is averted. Allan Edwall, a local mailman with purported mystical powers, offers to intervene with the Creator on Josephson's behalf. The Sacrifice is so dependent upon its visuals and overall mood that any attempt at a detailed synopsis would be woefully inadequate. The willingness of Tarkovsky's protagonist to forego all his possessions may well have sprung from the cancer-ridden director's awareness that he, too, would soon be giving up everything to face his Maker. The Sacrifice won four awards at the Cannes Film Festival, including the Grand Prix.

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KI1492 Sacrifice, The DVD (1986/Andrei Tarkovsky) $39.95 $35.99