Dashiel (Jeremy Pattnosh) was born David, but decided to change his name when he became what was generally regarded as a "bad boy". He had a troubled childhood where he never saw eye to eye with his overbearing father and they argued constantly, so when he left home he wished to better himself and went to college. However, for all the philosophy he learned, he never felt as though he fitted in, and the higher class he mixed with would not accept him, including his girlfriend...
What all that has to do with the rest of the film is anyone's guess, but this micro-budgeted, shot on Super-8 opus, essentially a student film, gained its own notoriety when, in the mid-eighties over five years after it was produced, it emerged that the female lead was none other than global pop star phenomenon Madonna. This was in the days that the she was tasting superstardom for the first time and nobody knew how that fame would pan out, much least suspect she would still be one of the most famous women in the world decades later - no Whitney Houston-style burnout for this talent.
But let us take a trip back through the years to 1979 and see where it all began. It is true that the only possible reason anyone could have to see A Certain Sacrifice is for the footage of Madonna before she was famous, and one thing is clear: her self-conscious acting style never really moved on and improved. The director of this released it to midnight movie showings and on home video for a quick cash in, even though his megastar endeavoured to keep it on the shelf when she heard about his plans, but when you see the quality of the work you're surprised he didn't simply give it away.
What distinguishes the film is scenes that go on insanely long, even for an hour-long experience, with for example Dashiel going to a diner where someone attempts to engage him in conversation for nearly fifteen minutes: that's right, fifteen minutes of muffled dialogue about how one man isn't interested in talking to another man. "Where's Madonna?" you will be asking, "Why can't we have some star wattage to alleviate the boredom?" and she does turn up, initially in a sequence that involves her and Pattnosh messing around by a fountain with a gun - nobody gets shot, that might be too interesting, after all.
Of course, there was another reason why A Certain Sacrifice was notorious and that was early Madonna nudity. Here she sets about canoodling with three love slaves in a scene which leaves her topless and rolling on the floor, but as her feminine assets had been detailed in all their glory after she became famous as well, and to more flattering effect at that, you can't imagine anyone feeling satisfied at the grainy shots of her here. Eventually Madonna's character is assaulted by the boring diner man and the pun in the title becomes obvious when her friends, including Dashiel, take their revenge. A true endurance test, it's as accurate now as it was then to say that this should solely be viewed by the diehard Madonna fans, and even they will be disappointed. Also worth noting that the music is among the worst ever committed to film. The culprit? A certain Mr J. Pattnosh.