[Movie] Stalker (1979)

  • Title: Сталкер (Stalker)
  • Directed by: Andrei Tarkovsky
  • Cast: Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, Anatoliy Solonitsyn, Nikolay Grinko
  • Based on: Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky

Stalker: The Zone is a very complicated system of traps, and they’re all deadly. I don’t know what’s going on here in the absence of people, but the moment someone shows up, everything comes into motion. Old traps disappear and new ones emerge. Safe spots become impassable. Now your path is easy, now it’s hopelessly involved. That’s the Zone. It may even seem capricious. But it is what we’ve made it with our condition. It happened that people had to stop halfway and go back. Some of them even died on the very threshold of the room. But everything that’s going on here depends not on the Zone, but on us!

from the movie

Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Stalker” is an enigmatic science fiction film with very stylistic directing. The film’s unique style – slow progress and ambiguity – is intentional. The Zone is depicted as a psychologically prohibited place rather than a remnant of aliens. Wandering the wood and abandoned tunnels lead viewers to probe the complex web of desires and emotions. 

It is loosely based on the 1972 novel ‘Roadside Picnic.’ The film condensed the book into a single journey to the Zone with a heavy philosophical emphasis. 

Please refer to my review of ‘Roadside Picnic.’

Stalker: May everything come true. May they believe. And may they laugh at their passions. For what they call passion is not really the energy of the soul, but merely friction between the soul and the outside world. But, above all, may they believe in themselves and become as helpless as children. For softness is great and strength is worthless. When a man is born, he is soft and pliable. When he dies, he is strong and hard. When a tree grows, it is soft and pliable. But when it’s dry and hard, it dies. Hardness and strength are death’s companions. Flexibility and softness are the embodiment of life. That which has become hard shall not triumph.

from the movie

The film attracts your attention to the hypnotic state. Your attention sticks to the screen of seemingly boring dialogs and walking. The alternating use of matted and colored palettes guides you to the state of dreaming and finally leads you to the blank Zone. The movie is about our psychological depth.

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