Classic Review – Stalker (1979)

Title – Stalker (1979)

Director – Andrei Tarkovsky (Solaris)

Cast – Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, Alisa Freyndlikh, Anatoliy Solonitsyn, Nikolay Grinko

Plot – A mysterious guide (Kaydanovskiy) known as a “stalker” leads a professor and a writer into a dangerous Alien inhabited landscape known as The Zone where there is reported to be a room that grants those that enter it their true wishes.

“My conscience wants vegetarianism to win over the world. And my subconscious is yearning for a piece of juicy meat. But what do I want?”

Review by Eddie on 16/03/2021

More philosophical and ponderous than pure Sci-Fi, the highly regarded Andrei Tarkovsky film Stalker is a film that will either enthrall or bore as audiences are taken on an atmospheric journey to a landscape in an unnamed country simply known as “The Zone”, a place where alien lifeforms once lived or do still inhabit and where a mysterious place titled The Room apparently grants wishes of the those that dare enter into it.

Being someone with the middle of the range intelligence that I have, I don’t profess to understand or fathom even half of the various deep life questions and ideals that Stalker is dealing with across its nigh on three hour run-time, a sometimes hard to endure trek through a Chernobyl like world that seemingly predicted the catastrophic Russian tragedy that followed in its path years later.

There are countless elements to Tarkovsky’s film (one that the director almost abandoned on multiple occasions, so hard was its production and budget constraints) that don’t feel as though they needed the screen-time dedicated to them and the film could’ve easily lost 30 – 40 minutes off its final cut and still made an impact but despite its various inconsistencies when it comes to engaging the audience, the nightmarish and atmospheric presence of The Zone and the possibilities it possesses are reasons why so many have fallen under its spell and why its influence on pop culture and films/TV like Westworld and Annihilation is clear for all to see.

It’s incredible to think that despite its constraints as a film of the late 70’s, its highly doubtful a modern dosage of special effects or technical wizardry would’ve had the chance to create a more engrossing playground of despair and intrigue with every single frame of Stalker drenched in foreboding and mystery, creating a character out of The Zone through ingenious and carefully considered production values.

Initially neither a massive box office hit or even a genuine critical darling, Stalker’s increasingly strong reputation as a piece of cinematic art and brilliance is a rare feat for a film with audiences from around the world seeking out its dreamlike qualities as they try and unlock the hidden meanings and ideals that lay within Tarkovsky’s living and breathing Sci-Fi escapade.

Final Say – 

The exact type of film that I’m sure intellectuals love to quote as a favourite, Stalker is far from a perfect film and one that clearly thinks highly of itself as it delves into the deep depths of the human condition and what it means to be a human being but its stunning atmosphere and unique sensibilities ensure its a film unlike any other and one that can transfix as well as frustrate.

3 1/2 Nobel Prizes out of 5 

8 responses to “Classic Review – Stalker (1979)

    • Agreed totally mate. It’s one of the most unique films I’ve seen but can’t say I was enthralled the whole way through.
      E

  1. I’ve been meaning to check out Stalker ever since hearing people compare Annihilation to it (which was one of my favorite movies of 2018). Stalker’s been on my Criterion Channel watchlist for a long time, and I’ve been meaning to give it a watch.

    Still, great review.

    • It’s well worth a look mate.

      Can certainly see where Annihilation took some vibes and ideas from this film.

      Be keen to hear what you think once you get to it.
      E

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