Alexander’s devotion to his god mirrors Abraham’s sacrifice, a man who wishes to transcend selfishness to achieve salvation. Andrei Tarkovsky’s dense narrative is thick with characterization and melodrama, focusing upon a patriarch and his family while the outside world, revealed only through a radio broadcast and the piercing whine of jet fighters, is kept ethereal and unrealized.
Alexander severs the umbilical to the world, born of man and woman he is now child of god’s oath, beyond the understanding of his family. Tarkovsky evokes the eerie mysticism of Bergman by placing the sheltered parable on a lonely windswept beach, prayers like tidal forces slowly wearing away sin too slowly to be recognized. The charging rain and lurking mist obscure perceptions, leaving each character as an island in an ocean of despair. This is Bergman’s dark night of the soul where redemption can be attained…at a cost. Eschewing human law for biblical testament, Alexander remains true to his promise. He burns away the material, this elemental purge of earthly delights, to attain deliverance. And his faith remains as solid as a tree, young yet ancient, nurtured by the earth whose seeds will fall and prosper for future generations. There is hope.
Final Grade: (A)