The time bicycle - Sacrifice (2)

"Sacrifice” written and directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

So we’ve been misbehaving. In ways small and big, or is it the other way around? It does not matter anymore how it started and what started it: the missiles have been lunched. What’s left is to cover your head with a sheet. Unless you are around Otto who posses the Knowledge. He knows where to go, how to get there and what to do. He also knows who should embark on the quest. First things first: where to go:

“(...) Prophetic dreams (...) come to me from the transcendent word, from beyond. (...) What is certain is that up there time is reversible. Which proves to me that time and space only exist in the material incarnation. Time is not objective.” - Andrei Tarkovsky talking to Thomas Johnson, 1986

That’s clear and simple. We have got to go to the dreamworld. No surprise here: the Australian aborigines, the Amazonian ayahuasca consuming tribes and others much smarter than us have known it forever. They revered the process as sacred and dangerous. Alexander senses the high stakes of the game: he takes a pistol with him.

How do we get there? By bicycle, naturlich!

Heaven forbid. I hardly ever think. It’s bad for my health...

But it must be impossible to write,
if you’re thinking only of success or failure when you do.

Naturlich! But on the other hand
if nobody reads me in a hundred years’ time,
then why bother writing at all?


Time again. The passage of time as the motivator of our actions. Anyway, back to the “Sacrifice.” A magical bicycle is the vehicle that can save us. Only Maria knows how to ride it with grace. She does so at the end of the film, when the peace is already restored. At the beginning Otto rides it clumsily. Later, Alexander falls off it riding on a straight country path. Why does he fall? Because it the secret vehicle, impossible to master by a mere human.

The way Tarkovsky stops and reverses the time is the most amazing directorial maneuver in this film. Note the absence of any vulgar film time tricks. Formwise, all is based on rhythm, light and sound.

Tarkovsky wanted to name the script “Eternal Return”. Even though the Nietzsche’s eternal return is talked about and the Boy for a moment becomes the Dwarf, the key character in the Nietzschean metaphor of the Now, this is not a film about the strive to find the eternity in the Moment. It is rather about old, plain reversal of time, or rather of our smallness.

Look at the faces of the family members “the morning after”. To them nothing has happened and yet they seemed to have undergone a powerful inner transformation. The scales have dropped off their eyes. The Doctor for example announces that he wants to go to Australia because he is “tired of this perversion”. Their small (yet so powerful in their consequences) lies have become unbearable. That’s one more reason Alexander has to keep his end of the bargain.

OK, we know where to go and how to get there. Now comes the question what to do.

The answer is the only one possible: love.

Finally, who should do the loving?

For the sake of peace, the Boy, the tree and the future

- it should be you!

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