News of WWIII breaks out during the festivities of drama critic Alexander’s birthday celebration. With the end of the world nigh, he turns to God and vows to renounce everything near and dear to him, if the war is averted.
"All my life I've been going around waiting for something. All my life, in fact, I've felt as if... as if I were waiting in a railway station.And I've always felt as if... as if the living I've done so far hasn't actually been real life, but a long wait for it... a long wait for something real, something important."
This to me is Tarkovsky's greatest work. Sartre called his style "social surrealism," and I read this film as a mid-period Bunuel without all the poke-in-the-ribs jokes, bone dry. It's a drawing-room farce to end them all, the true Exterminating Angel.