Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 12-13 (Jan-June 1987) p. 69.


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The Sacrifice

Andrei Tarkovsky

THE idea of The Sacrifice was born long before that of Nostalgia. My earliest thoughts, sketches and random jottings on it relate to a time when I was still in the Soviet Union. The story was to have been about the fate of a mortally ill Alexander, who recovers from his illness after spending a night with a witch. Ever since then. as also while working on the script, my mind was constantly preoccupied with questions relating to equilibrium, sacrifice, the yin and yang of love and the individual. These became a part of my existence. My new life experience in the West only strengthened and intensified the original concept of the film. However, I must state that my convictions .did not, in any way, change — they became deeper and firmer. The distances and proportions changed. The plan of the film was materializing. It kept changing its form but the basic idea and its meaning, I hope, remained constant.

Why was I preoccupied with the theme of harmony which is impossible to achieve without sacrifice — a reciprocal dependence on love, mutual love ? Why doesn't anyone want to understand that love can only be mutual ? No other kind of love can exist; in any other form it is not love. Love without giving oneself up totally is not love. It is handicapped. It means nothing. I am above all interested in he who is willing to sacrifice his position and title—be it for the sake of spiritual principles, or to help someone dear to him, or to save himself, or both. Such a step implies total abnegation of self interest which is inherent in 'normal^ logic. Such an act contradicts the materialist world view and its laws. The act is often ridiculous and impractical. And yet, or rather, because of it, the individual's act brings about significant changes in the fates of other people and in history. The space a human being occupies consists of a distinctive and unique picture which goes against the empirical results of our experience, but, even

Journal of Arts & ideas 6j9

* This was meant to be the last chapter of Tarkovsky's book Sculpting in Time. The Bodley Head, London, 1986. It was completed just a week before he died. It was published in Russkaya mysl. 16 Jan., 1987.


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