How can you relate to a man who bargains with God that he would sacrifice everything in life – his family and beautiful house, if He can stop the impending Third World War – and goes about doing exactly that? The plot is not even a metaphor but plays out ‘realistically’, the reason more many find the middle-aged intellectual protagonist a looney. Despite the respect and aura he evokes in the vast majority of cinephiles and filmmakers over the ages, Tarkovsky’s spiritual and metaphysical concerns that define his oeuvre have alienated a lot of viewers too; to them, his imagery holds appeal as beautiful moving ‘still photographs’ that fail to transport them to a higher realm that it does for most of his aficionados the world over.
Is Tarkovsky a seductive fake – or does he deserve the eulogy that has been accorded to him since the last more than 50 years? Let the millennials and others not acquainted with his films judge for themselves.
THE SACRIFICE (1986, Sweden), Andrei Tarkovsky’s swan song, shot by Sven Nykvist is streaming on MUBI.
Ranjan Das is a Mumbai based filmmaker & faculty.