Stalker (1979), Andrei Tarkovsky, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, April 21st, 2005

If I were a pharmaceutical enthusiast, I would make this high on my list. This definitely has that “beamed down from some greater intelligence” feel to it. Sort’ve a cross between “The Wizard of Oz,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Wings of Desire” and Tarkovsky’s earlier “Solaris.” A writer and a scientist want to enter The Zone, an area blocked off by armed forces that may or may not contain a room which may or may not contain a meteor which may or may not fufill your deepest fantasy (which you may or may not even know about.) To navigate the Zone you need a Stalker — and the Stalker in our story is a nervous, sickly man who kinda resembles Mike White. They enter the Zone pretty quickly and. . .well. . .once they are in the Zone . . . things start happening. The Zone is a living thing (if you believe in the Zone at all) and the shortest distance to get anywhere is not a straight line. And the Zone is very wet. And there is cool music in the Zone. And a lot of sloooooow tracking shots. The Zone is awesome. The film was shot (on multiple stocks) in the wet fog of Estonia. . .and it sure works.


  1. Glad I’m not the only one who sees the Wizard of Oz aspects of Stalker. I filled a notebook page with comparisons during a rather dull seminar. BTW, I read a rumor somewhere that after Tarkovsky finished filming Stalker, the entire film was accidentally destroyed and had to be shot a second time. I don’t know. Drip. drip. drip.

    Comment by James — April 21, 2005 @ 9:27 am

  2. Yes — that is the story. It is unclear if the destruction of the footage was due to a monumental technical error or if The Man wanted the footage destroyed — but, basically, Tarkovsky worked for a year on the film, went back to square one, and shot it a second time.

    Kinda interesting, considering the subject matter.

    Y’know — all other art forms allow for revision. Novelists can start fresh from page one over and over. Films are worked again and again in editing — and sometimes you reshoot a scene — but I don’t know of too many examples of doing over an entire film.

    Comment by Jordan — April 21, 2005 @ 9:28 pm

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