This science fiction milestone from director Andrei Tarkovsky (Solaris) takes you into the Zone, a mysterious, guarded realm containing a mystical Room in which occupants' secret dreams come true. Stalker, a man able to le... more »ad others to this holy grail, escorts a writer and a scientist through this foreboding territory and confronts several unexpected challenges along the way. Based on the novel "Roadside Picnic" by Russian sci-fi writers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.« less
You will be thinking about this movie for a long time after. Must be experienced at least once in your life.
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The title STALKER is misunderstood
Peter S. Lunde | 06/30/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The title STALKER is quite misunderstood because many think it is a translation from a Russian word that means 'to stalk.'. Actually Tarkovsky's script inserted the word STALKER thinking it was a catchy English equivalent for something like a Russian pathfinder or guide. In that context, the central character's role is better understood, for he spends time leading the writer and scientist toward discovery and revelation, which they ultimately cannot achieve. STALKER is a masterpiece of imposed reality on the viewer. Make no mistake: this film is very difficult to stay with without your utmost attention. Little artifice, few physical elements, hardly any plot, STALKER exists as a journey that draws your mind, heart, and soul into the nature of human existence. Only those intelligent and sensitive enough to ride Tarkovsky's waves of feeling, emotion, and thought can comprehend his message of possible salvation and redemption through love and persistent searching for human truth. The writing on the video box implies this is another sci fi film, but clearly it is not. Tarkovsky's great films are mythical allegories in the tradition of Pilgrim's Progress or Piers Plowman. For me, Tarkovsky is the ultimate challenge in intellectual film making, because he presents and discusses his ideas only in the context of the film itself, not just as a media vehicle to speak. What strikes me most is his absolutely consistent sense of pace in all his films: slow, deliberate, but fluid and highly organic. He is one of the few great masters of film as an art form."
THE BEST FILM EVER CREATED
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a film about faith, divine grace and the fruitless vanity stemming from our soul's original sin. To quote from one of the characters in the film," My mind preaches vegetarianism, but my heart longs for a juicy piece of steak." And this is the premise of the three characters journey into the Zone - to seek out their steak: to find the Room in the Zone that will grant them their wishes; and this coming from the very same people whose professions demands higher standards of moral living from them, careers that require them to preach vegetarianism. Of course they have failed in their lives professions, and the characters know this but their inner chaos stem from the private pains in their lives, their failure to live up to their calling and their denial/certainty about their indivisual failures and states of their tarnished souls. Although Stalker is someone who leads others into the the Zone as a guide, his purpose apparently being to help others obtain their wish and thus bring about happiness for others, yet Tarkovsky hints that Stalker's outward explaination is dubious as he will not hesitate to make scapegoats and guinea pigs of his clients in the face of uncertainty and danger. As for Writer, he is, yes, a writer who is going into the Zone to look and beg for inspiration and faith in life as a whole; until Writer can obtain this wish, his cynicism and lack of faith can be summed up in one of his quotes:" A writer can only write about his readers." Professor is a scientist whose reason for seeking out the Room is unspecified until at the very end of the film but I will not divulge his reason.He is a researcher who has to bear his boss's fury and defintely hates his job at the lab. Many great cinematic moments are to be found in the film, in fact the film is one great cinematic moment non-stop, even after it ends, and this can be attributed to Tarkovsky's brilliant handling of every aspect of the film; one can even go so far as to say that with this film tarkovsky proved that he is easily the Einstein of cinema. His vision is earth shattering, deviating almost completely from the original intentions of the writers of a novel on which the film was based. The ending when it is revealed the reason why one of the guides of the Zone hanged himself despite obtaining a wish from the Room will blow away anyone who lives in the frustrated knowledge of life and all our mortal desires as an empty vainity of vanities without the presence of God and selfless love. The editing, set designs, music and lighting, the human choreography, the wisdom and everything in this film qualifies it as the best film ever made. Totally original without trying to be. If you only watch one film for the rest of your life this has to be it! It will make you want to live better, stirring profound thoughts and feelings within you long after the film's over. This is more than a film, it's almost a miracle. The British label ARTIFICIAL EYE apparently has better English subtitles and shows the complete film without cuts unlike the American version, or so I read."
Tarkovksy's best film (along with Solaris)...
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 03/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is as amazing as you have heard. It's arguably Tarkovsky's best film (and the last one he made completely under the auspices of the USSR), and a film that gets inside your head and your soul. The plot is rather simple. An alien force lands on Earth, and then leaves. The area where they landed is a vast wasteland where the laws of physics are suspended. It's been dubbed the zone (or 3OHA in Russian). A stalker (not the current definition), a writer, and a professor venture into the zone, where there is a room that will grant you your most inner wishes. Now, it's not what you ask for, it's what you really desire. The room reads into your soul. This is a very slow, cerebral movie (it wouldn't be a Tarkovsky movie otherwise), but it has to be seen many times to fully comprehend it. I love Stalker's "dream" sequence, which has one of the most amazing shots I've ever seen in cinema. The ending is really exceptional as well. I have seen Stalker at least 10 times, and I can see 10 more. It was a difficult shoot (Tarkovsky had to stop shooting because there was a defect in the film stock he was using. He had to reshoot from scratch, essentially), yet, it is Tarkovsky's greatest film along with Solaris and Andrei Rublev. When you watch it, make sure that you choose the original mono soundtrack. The DVD company, RUSCICO, remixed the soundtrack to 5.1 dolby, but they ADDED sound to the original film, including music during the ride to the zone (which originally only had dialogue and the sound of the trolley car). It was awful. They ended up reissuing the disc with both tracks after the outcry by Tarkovsky admirers.
Brothers Karamazov visit Chernobyl
Joseph Heaney | Jacksonville, FL United States | 12/24/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker is another one of those movies with a bipolar disorder; You either love it or hate it. Having said this, I must admit that I loved the movie. So be forewarned. This is another review by an enthusiast. Stalker improves upon recollection and has a fascination that one cannot readily explain.The stalker leads others into a mysterious and forbidden zone that is heavily protected by a police state. Was the zone caused by a meteorite? We do not know. We do know that many have entered the zone never to return. And we also know that in the twenty some years since the meteorite fell, a legend has grown up that there exists within the zone a room where one's innermost wish may be granted. The calling of the stalker, who has faith in the legend, is to lead others past the police guards and through the labyrinthine zone to the room.The action begins when a writer and a physicist meet together with the stalker in a dreary bar. Everything is wet and slippery here, as it is through most of the movie. Curiously, the images change from sepia to color as we enter the zone. As the stalker explains the mysteries to us we know that we are not in Kansas anymore. In the decidely un-cartesian zone one never traverses the shortest distance between two points. An indirect approach is always best. Only the stalker can divine the way, which is confused beyond words.It is an understatement to say that the scenes are disquieting. The zone is strewn with syringes, silt, and debris of all kinds. Everything seems to be wet, including the visitors. But they don't mind. They are engaged in philosophical-religious speculation! For shame to think of personal comfort when larger issues are at stake.It is remarkable that in 1980 Tarkovsky created a film about a dangerous zone strewn with debris, where children of frequent visitors have deformed children. I cannot escape the conclusion that this film artistically predicted Chernobyl. In many ways the zone is like life (where sometimes progress is simple and other times it is confused beyond words). In other ways it is like death. But it is not all gloom and doom. The Stalker is, in his original way, beatific. Through the prayerful monologue of the stalker Tarkovsky accomplishes the transcendent moments characteristic of all of his films. The stalker's faith is reminiscent of the cargo cults of the South Pacific. That the object of his faith is pathetic makes it no less sincere.The unnamed "writer" and "professor" are profoundly different individuals whose only common experience seems to be suffering. But the quality of their suffering is different. Our "writer" has specialized in a kind of suffering that contaminates all who come within the orbit of his wit. The professor has suffered alone, in intellectual isolation. The stalker has suffered as well, but he has sacrificed his suffering and has attained an acceptance of life through faith. It is a fragile acceptance though, one that can be shaken by intellectuals convinced that they have been "born for something".Stalker convinces us that a man be so misguided as to worship the most pathetic of objects. If such a man has sacrificed his suffering he is greater than the most exalted intellectual.I am impressed that you have read this review from beginning to end. You must really be a fine person!"
Yes, I do have better drugs....
Wayne A. | Belfast, Northern Ireland | 08/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love the trash review directly below! And I always stupidly thought it was drugs and sophomoric attitudes that made films like this impossible for some people.
Working with next to nothing, Tarkovsky conjures up a unique film experience. Imagine a visually magical film about the search for the Grail filmed in someones backyard--it's kind of like that. In some respects it's a bit like Godard's Alphaville...but only in some. It's certainly not a film to "get," but one to get lost in and I think that's why it frustrates a lot of viewers who sometimes think every intelligent film is a puzzle that needs to be worked out. Some film-goers need to understand that one can't always be poetic and linear/literal (I say "can't always" to be ironic). Hard point to make in the world's most unpoetical linear/literal society.
Tarkovsky is a master of the tangential, the sublime, the surreal--anything but the direct. I've watched this film nearly a dozen times and I can't tell you what most of it is about--especially the ending (which is utterly devastating and quite beautiful). Well, that's not totally true, I've a fair idea what it's vaguely about; in some ways the meaning's as clear as French criticism. It's just elusive too, because people's souls are slippery eels, and souls seem to be an obsession with Tarkovsky.
I'd put hard money on this being a great film but it's tough to prove it, especially using the Procrustean critical and analytical tools we find scattered around the garage today (The "Boring-ometer," or the "Left-handed PC Gauge") People who strongly dislike it seem to be of two camps: one is the sort of ADD group that can't handle long, slow movies with little visceral stimulation; it's a valid lifestyle for many but insufficient grounds for condemning anything*. The other camp consists of a type that's been with us since the cave man or woman discoverer of the wheel was given one star on Amazon.rock for creating a pointless spinning thing that made folks dizzy. There's no response available to complaints that a complex, advanced, or visionary work of art is "boring," "artsy," or "pretentious." The reviewer is writing--quite validly and no irony intended--to his or her equals and they should listen keenly. My dog, Alphonse, once reviewed a Beethoven symphony and described it as "meaningless and annoying low-frequency noise with no hope of dinner or treat implied in its raucous ending" and since that was published (in The New Yorker, no less!) no other dog has bothered to listen to the "Eroica." My cat hates paintings by Mondrian because the artist didn't leave enough texture on the canvas to sharpen ones nails on. The mice, however, love Pollock. To each according to their needs and abilities.
[* I recently suggested to the Turner folks that since colorizing worked so well to bring boring old black and white films to the attention of the easily distracted (Or "Differently Attentive" as the PC folks say), that we should, uh, "stimulize" slow-moving old films. This would involve say, adding footage of car crashes and explosions, maybe even a graphic decapitation to "Twelve Angry Men" or re-editing "Jane Eyre" so that it looked like an MTV video. We could easily digitally minimize clothing so that "Miracle on 42nd Street" could get an R rating and an audience. Just a thought]