Stalker Screen 17 articles

Stalker

1979

Stalker Poster
  • Ten years ago, Andrei Tarkovsky wrote: 'Whether they are good or bad, in the final analysis my films are about one thing: the extreme manifestation of faith in a moral debt, the fight for it ... I am interested in a hero, going on to the end, regardless of everything, for only such a man can triumph.' Stalker is the most complete realisation of Tarkovsky's credo. And perhaps for this reason is, aesthetically, so simple and severe.

  • Tarkovsky, with truly heroic deviousness, eliminates the genre's random factor by setting Stalker not, as one would expect, in an unidentified mythical country, even less in the 'America' of the original novel, but, astonishingly, in the Soviet Union itself. Or rather, in nothing less than his own personal vision of the Soviet Union—a vision untrammeled by the precepts of socialist realism, unquestionably biased, yet riveting in its ferocity and pessimism.

  • Throughout the Zone, the stalker insists there is no going back—all motion is forward. The Room then suggests some Hegelian fulfillment of history. Stalker, it seems, mourns the impossibility of religious (political, technocratic) faith even as it acknowledges the damage this faith inflicts. It's a vision of despair illuminated by only the faintest ray of hope.

  • What [the travelers] find is pretty harsh and has none of the usual satisfactions of SF quests, but Tarkovsky regards their journey as a contemporary spiritual quest. His mise en scene is mesmerizing, and the final scene is breathtaking. Not an easy film, but almost certainly a great one.

  • A visually serene, highly metaphoric, and deeply haunting treatise on the essence of the soul. Episodically, Andrei Tarkovsky uses chromatic shifts to delineate between the outside world and The Zone. Thematically, as in Solaris, the transition serves as an oneiric device to separate physical reality from the subconscious. The created barriers and imposed laws of the outside world parallel the Stalker's incoherent tracking methods for reaching The Room.

  • It’s this relationship to the characters and to the camera that makes for dizzying, frankly confusing, physically involved, and psychically evocative viewing. Stalker compounds matters in that the journey undertaken by its characters is explicitly spiritual, but what they seek and what they find is always contradicted, ambiguous, unwieldy.

  • It may not be the most signifier-loaded film in the auteur’s canon. Nonetheless, it remains a dense, complex, often-contradictory, and endlessly pliable allegory about human consciousness, the necessity for faith in an increasingly secular, rational world, and the ugly, unpleasant dreams and desires that reside in the hearts of men.

  • An eerie frightening film, Stalker makes use of spectacular natural locations... The last scene of the film (which I wouldn’t dream of revealing) packs such an enormous punch (visually, thematically: it is different from all that came before) that it acts as a catalyst in the viewer. It tells us something we have not yet learned. It suggests that things really ARE not what they seem, that they are far more mysterious than anyone had ever dreamed.

  • Whilst the debates, confessions, and petty in-fighting of the three main characters are fascinating, it’s in Tarkovsky’s images where true wonder and ambiguity lie, refusing any simple reduction of the many interpretations and dimensions of the story, moving beyond the literal, and the literary, and into a realm of total cinema. It’s as if Tarkovsky set himself the task of pitting his images against intellectual formulae, and, amazingly, winning.

  • A film that is as mesmerizing as it is elusive... Where sci-fi films tend to overstate humanity's limitless imagination of the universe, Tarkovsky reappropriates the genre's trappings to suggest the cosmos' deepest truths are in one's own mind.

  • The words in the end are just a handhold for the unsteady, something with a veneer of rationality to provide narrative comfort. The terror and pleasure of Stalker comes from the calm, penetrating stare it dares us to take, and meaning(s) it demands we construct for ourselves out of what we see.

  • Tarkovsky realizes the allegorical tale with an overwhelming density of visual detail; the riot and clash of textures... form a frenzied vocabulary and lend the film the torrential inner force of Dostoyevskian rhetoric. One vast subterranean dialogue sequence, in which the three travellers wrangle over metaphysical fantasies and long-stifled grudges, could be borrowed directly from a grand existential novel.

  • Based on sci-fi novel The Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky brothers, it still has a relatively straightforward plot, but is dense with enigmatic philosophy over its unhurried, meditative 160 minutes. As in all Tarkovsky’s work, spiritual crisis is the theme. But wry dialogue punctuates its melancholy, defying those who claim he doesn’t have a sense of humour.

  • I found the beautiful, demanding film just as moving, or maybe a little more moving, as I ever have... This time around, it was such a revelations of art at its highest aspirations (and accomplishment!) that I felt I could skip going into Venice to see the Tintorettos at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco this time around. (I ended up not skipping them, because it’s just something you need to see every time. But you get the idea.)

  • The film isn’t aimless. Sure, given all that hiking, the mind wanders—and wanders back. At least one devotee of the film, which is about and inspires devotion, condemns this wandering as our modern inability to concentrate. Why not our old ability to transcend?

  • It might seem rather a cliché to insist that film is a visual medium, but surely what is _not_ spoken is just as important, in the total effect of this movie, as the articulation of its earnest ethical strivings. Tarkovsky seems to have found a way of photographing the human head—animated and in repose—as it had never been photographed before. He makes it monumental: sculptural and philosophical.

  • ‘Don’t hope for flying saucers. That would be too interesting,” a jaded writer tells a glamorous woman in one of many strange and beautiful scenes in Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Stalker” (1979). There are no flying saucers in the great Russian director’s haunting tale of a journey into the depths of a postapocalyptic landscape, but it offers visual splendor, as well as mysteries, portents and miracles.

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