Forty years on, Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’ remains a great example of movie-poetry, easier to experience than explain

Posted on July 11, 2019


Read the full article on Firstpost, here:

In 1972, the brothers Boris and Arkady Strugatsky published a Russian sci-fi novel titled Roadside Picnic, which centres on an extraterrestrial event called Visitation. This event results in “Zones”, mysterious (possibly supernatural) areas that have been cordoned off by the respective Governments. Instead of a single exposition dump, the properties and qualities of the Zone are parcelled out through lines like this one (from the translation by Antonina W Bouis): “I don’t like those trucks! They’ve been exposed to the elements for thirty years and they’re just like new… That’s the Zone for you!” Here’s another passage: “We were in the Zone! I felt a chill. Each time I feel that chill. And I never know if that’s the Zone greeting me or my stalker’s nerves acting up. Each time I think that when I get back I’ll ask if others have the same feeling or not, and each time I forget.”

That’s the novel’s protagonist speaking: a “stalker” who sneaks into the Zone and steals artefacts to sell in the black market or else takes others inside, like a freakish tourist guide. His nickname became the title of a film by Andrei Tarkovsky, released on 25 May, 1979. (The Strugatsky brothers wrote the screenplay, loosely based on their book.) The premise sounds like a sci-fi adventure: “If you come back [from the Zone] with swag, it’s a miracle. If you come back alive, it’s a success. If the patrol bullets miss you, it’s a stroke of luck. And as for anything else, that’s fate.” The “plot” revolves around Stalker leading two men (named Writer and Professor, after their professions) into the Zone, which begins to sound like a malevolent living being. Stalker says, “The Zone demands respect, otherwise it’ll punish you.” It sounds like the setting for an Indiana Jones adventure.

Continued at the link above.

Copyright ©2019 Firstpost.