STALKER

PrintE-mail Written by Ian White

In an unnamed time, in an unnamed country, The Zone awaits. Supposedly created by an asteroid striking the Earth, The Zone is a heavily guarded no man’s land strewn with deadly booby-traps, both physical and psychological. But somewhere inside The Zone is The Room, where those who have been brave enough to confront and survive The Zone’s myriad dangers will have their innermost wish granted. But before you can enter The Zone and find The Room, you will have to enlist the services of a very special tour guide, a man known only as the Stalker (Aleksandr Kajdanovsky).

Today, the Stalker is escorting two men into The Zone – the Writer (Anatoli Solonitsyn) and the Professor (Nikolai Grinko). It’s a perilous journey made all the more dangerous by the fact that The Zone is forever changing – each time the Stalker comes here, the route he takes to The Room is different, and the direct path should be avoided at all costs. Why does he leave his wife and disabled child behind to bring people here? Because the Stalker believes that The Zone gives hope to the hopeless, even though he warns that The Room might not grant your wish in the way that you expected – he tells his clients about a Stalker called ‘Porcupine’ whose brother was killed inside The Zone but who became very rich after visiting The Room. Those riches didn’t make Porcupine happy, though. He committed suicide soon afterwards.

But what do the Writer and the Professor want from The Room? It seems the Writer might be looking for inspiration, but the Professor has a motive none of them could suspect…

Originally released in 1979, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker has been hailed, by many critics, as a science-fiction masterpiece. Set in an obviously post-apocalyptic future, it remains a hypnotic and enigmatic journey. The Zone is a wonderful creation; a forest of greenery littered with the ruined hulks of military vehicles and fallen power lines, intersected by a river that flows across the debris of a long-forgotten civilisation. Against this sentient, unforgiving landscape, the three men discuss the nature of art and existence and their various dissatisfactions with life. As far as the narrative is concerned, it is a deceptively simple and slow-moving film, but the dynamics between the characters are endlessly fascinating. Don’t be deceived by its seemingly languid pace, this is filmmaking for the senses and existential SF at its finest.

As far as this Blu-ray presentation goes, the print looks as good as can be expected given the limitations of the source material. There are a few specks and crackles but nothing too distracting, and it is superior to every other version we’ve seen. The special features, which are all found on the second disc, are a fascinating accompaniment and loaded with insight.

If you thought Solaris was Tarkovsky’s finest movie, take a look at Stalker and prepare to have your mind blown.

STALKER / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: ANDREI TARKOVSKY / SCREENPLAY: ARKADIY STRUGATSKIY, BORIS STRUGATSKIY, ANDREI TARKOVSKY / STARRING: ALISA FREYNDLIKH, ALEKSANDR KAYDANOVSKIY, ANATOLIY SALONITSYN, NIKOLAY GRINKO / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW


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