The Sacrifice

For a filmmaker who completed only seven feature films in his lifetime, Andrei Tarkovsky has made an enormous impact. In addition to his artistry, perhaps the enduring fascination with his work has to do with the story of a life cut short. After all, several European filmmakers who were born before Tarkovsky, like Jean-Luc Godard and Alain Resnais, are still around and making new films. Each of Tarkovsky’s seven films are brilliant works that each possess an ambition towards perfection and cinematic transcendence, but when bringing the filmmaker’s abrupt death by lung cancer into the equation it’s difficult to avoid the saddened feeling that there’s a great deal more time-sculpting he had left to share. So it makes sense then that the number of documentaries about Tarkovsky (or prominently feature the filmmaker) far exceed the number of films the director himself completed, and this fact gives a clear indication of his broad cinematic influence. These films are made because people want more, and desire to understand the depth of Tarkovsky’s work better. Films like Voyage in Time (1983), Moscow Elegy (1987), Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky (1988), and Meeting Andrei Tarkovsky (2008) have examined the auteur’s method, life, philosophy, and impact. But easily the best documentary about Tarkovsky thus far is French visual essayist Chris Marker‘s One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich (1999), recently released on DVD by Icarus Films.

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Despite having only made seven feature films, Andrei Tarkovsky is largely considered one of the most important Russian filmmakers of the twentieth century, perhaps second only to Sergei Eisenstein (who was, aesthetically-speaking, his polar opposite). However, after enduring enormous troubles with Soviet censors, Tarkovsky expatriated to Italy, where he made his sixth film Nostalghia (1983) and later to Sweden where he made The Sacrifice (1986), which became his final film as he succumbed to lung cancer shortly after its production. Earlier this summer, one of Tarkovsky’s most beloved titles, Solaris (1972), was updated to Blu-ray by Criterion, and now Kino has updated their DVD of The Sacrifice to Blu as well, making this summer something of an embarrassment of riches for American Tarkovsky fans who have longed to see the filmmaker’s intricately beautiful work in high-definition.

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This Week in DVD

Happy day after the Fourth of July! I hope you got plenty of patriotic presents under the flagpole this year, but if you received gift-cards like I did you’re in luck as there are a couple DVDs worth picking up this week. Sure one’s Japanese and the other is Canadian, but that doesn’t mean they’re not pro-democracy, pro-freedom, and all kinds of awesome. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it (and help out FSR in the process). 13 Assassins A group of samurai choose honor over duty and make a stand against an evil lord who murders, rapes, and maims with impunity. Takashi Miike crafts one of his rare straight-forward films that eschews zaniness and offensive visuals for plot, character, and sincere action. Short fight scenes dot the opening hour, but most of that time is given over to the samurai coming together and planning their attack. The final hour is where it all comes together as the baker’s dozen go up against a few hundred of the lord’s soldiers with bows and arrows, swords, and trap-filled architecture. It’s an exciting and thrilling adventure filled with heroism, integrity, and bloodshed, and it’s not to be missed.

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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.05.2014
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