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18 December 2016: In Exile: Nostalgia / The Sacrifice

“[The] struggle for creative control proved to be a recurring aspect of Tarkovsky’s career until finally, in the early 1980s, he felt it necessary to relocate to Europe. As a self-styled national poet, Tarkovsky perceived exile as a grave threat to his creative inspiration; and indeed, the search for meaning driving all of his films takes on a more pointed, desperate edge during his late period.” – Max Goldberg

For our third Tarkovsky double bill we present the Russian master’s final two features, both produced in self-imposed exile from his homeland. Nostalgia is a spectrally beautiful, metaphysical exploration of spiritual isolation and Russian identity; whilst The Sacrifice is a profoundly spiritual meditation on existential terror and melancholic swansong from one of cinema’s true auteurs.
Andrei Tarkovsky
1983 | 125 min | Colour and B/W | DCP

Andrei Gorchakov is a misanthropic Russian scholar researching the life of an exiled Russian composer who committed suicide. With the help of guide, Eugenia, Andrei visits mystical and religious sites on the trail of the late composer’s legacy. In the shadow of the composer’s memory, Andrei finds himself crippled by a melancholy nostalgia for his Russian homeland, only to discover redemption in the form of a madman, Domenico. As in Mirror, Tarkovsky weaves a dense, meditative pattern of images – freely mixing past and present, dream and reality – with the scholar and the madman acting as allegorical players in a metaphysical trial by fire and water.
The Sacrifice
Andrei Tarkovsky
1986 | 149 min | Colour and B/W | 35mm

Alexander, a retired actor, is celebrating his birthday with family and friends when a TV announcement warns of an imminent nuclear catastrophe. Alexander makes a promise to God that he will sacrifice all he holds dear, if the disaster can be averted. The next day dawns and, as if in a dream, everything is restored to normality. But Alexander must keep his vow. Among many other awards, The Sacrifice won the Grand Prix at Cannes in 1986, the same year that Tarkovsky died of cancer in Paris at the age of 54.