STALKER: Andrei Tarkowsky (1979)

Stalker 1979

zona3m7yrs7Sw5WpUNJdqDjEhkNJVpxt34qr77kStalker is an allegorical science fiction film.  Film critic Derek Adams compared it to Copolla’s Apocalypse Now, also released in 1979.  He said, “as a journey to the heart of darkness, [Stalker] is a good deal more persuasive…”

Near a gray and unnamed city is the Zone, an alien place guarded by barbed wire and soldiers. Over his wife’s numerous objections, a man rises in the dead of night: he’s a stalker, one of a handful who have the mental gifts (and who risk imprisonment) to lead people into the Zone to the Room, a place where one’s deepest, secret hopes come true. That night, he takes two people into the Zone: a popular writer who is burned out, cynical and questioning his genius; and a quiet scientist more concerned about his knapsack than the journey. In the deserted Zone, the approach to the Room must be indirect. As they draw near, the rules seem to change and the stalker faces a crisis.

A surreal and disturbing vision of the future, Stalker hauntingly explores mans’ dreams and desires, and the consequences of realising them.

Andrei Tarkovsky (1932 – 1986) was a Soviet and Russian filmmaker, writer, film editor, film theorist, theatre and opera director. His other films include Andrei Rublev, Solaris (remade in 2002 by Steven Soderbergh) and Mirror. They are characterized by spirituality and metaphysical themes, long takes, lack of conventional dramatic, and distinctively authored use of cinematography. Memorably he described cinema as “sculpting in time”.

Film director Ingmar Bergman said of him: “For me Tarkovsky is the greatest director, the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.”

In 2012, the writer Geoff Dyer published Zona, a meditation on his insatiable fascination with the film.  He says “I [still] think there are very few films, in the last however-many years, that have done more to expand the possibilities of what a film is, what time is in film, than Stalker.”  Read an interview with him at the BFI here

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