November 10, 1986 [The Sacrifice]

Tarkovsky hypnotized me, somewhere in the last hour of Solaris--was it ten years ago?--and I have been drawn along in almost-levitation, my toes scraping the ground, my head up and eyes open, all those years, to find myself watching The Sacrifice. I think I'm in Sweden--the voices, the cold and open rooms, the wan light; but it may be Japan--the leaning, curving trees, the horizontal-vertical simplicity of the house standing by itself on the plain. The old man with a young son hears the end of the world roar overhead, jet-propelled--and it forces him to confront da Vinci's Adoration of the Magi, buried behind glass--trapping him as well, the man whose relationship with God is "non-existent" until he finds himself inside the dull gold of the painting and has to give away everything to Something he doesn't believe in--but it's his only hope, and he crawls on the floor toward the only kind of gift that matters--the mysterious postman, his files stuffed with photos of ghosts, tells him that it isn't a gift if it isn't a sacrifice.

I couldn't move: the long shots held me, my arms heavy, my chest, my torso, my legs. It wasn't terrible to be held that way--but not pleasant. I was safe, even though I watched the old man with the young son enact his own mystical reversal of Abraham and Isaac--the father, also hypnotized now by love, gives up everything; the son, left with his Japanese tree, solemnly wonders why in the beginning was the Word.

The father becomes Isaac, the one who laughs, as they take him to the loony bin, happy that he has averted the bombs and placated the witch; so he claps his hands to wake me up.


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