“Stalker” Review ✦✦✦✦✦

16 July, 2017

Year of Release: 1979
Andrei Tarkovsky
Arkadiy Strugatskiy, Boris Strugatskiy
Director of Photography: 
Aleksandr Knyazhinskiy
Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, Anatoliy Solonitsyn, Nikolay Grinko

Synopsis: Three men crippled by industrial misery embark on a dangerous mission across borders, seeking out an uninhabited space known as ‘The Zone’ which holds the key to both existential fulfilment and irreversible horror.

Stalker Review:

An artistic symphony proposed in film form but intellectually superior to cinema as we’ve come to know it, “Stalker” sits entirely removed from the baseness of genre theory as Andrei Tarkovsky’s affinity for laboured philosophy and existentialism births a work of ethereal beauty that’s reliant entirely on the doctrine of auteurism. Creatively strenuous and written to enlighten and affect, “Stalker” is a glimpse into cinema’s Sistine Chapel yet its imagery embraces realism with industrial chaos, waterlogged landscapes, and sharp dereliction rejecting the dazzle of token science fiction.

Eliminating all sign of an alien footprint, Tarkovsky mystifies the real world, forcing viewers to look inwards at their relationship with religion and morality while choosing to simply reinterpret the thirst for multidimensional enlightenment. Where “Stalker” overtly refuses to employ celestial archetypes, its message is translated into images previously thought impossible for a film of its kind and Tarkovsky takes controlled breaths as he grows weary in the heart of the countryside. Traversing an unmappable landscape and cursed by confusion and uncertainly, the film sees Tarkovsky at his most exceptional, mastering his craft in slow beats while he crosses impossible boundaries.

Bouncing between a trio of protagonists, two of whom suffer from a violent kind of nihilism which their greying guide can only attempt to quash by conveying the magnitude of their ignorance, “Stalker” sees a sepia dystopia morph into an expansive ruin where the men vainly search for answers while processing layer upon layer of perspective-altering conversation. Like an abstract reimagining of fate-bending classic “The Wizard of Oz”, “Stalker” has its own ideas about magic lamps and self-fulfilling prophecy and it articulates these worries through mediation and metaphor while extracting reams of stark imagery from its tormented subconscious. Quiet in nature yet vehemently apprehensive and plagued by self-doubt, “Stalker” is perfection at its most vulnerable, challenging the chaos of the psyche through questions rather than answers.


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