June 27, 2017


STALKER POSTERJean Paul Sartre’s ‘No Exit’ meets ‘Waiting For Godot” in Chernobyl in this influential filmic think piece from visionary Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky. This film makes Dostoevsky seem like an optimistic romantic. Filmmakers such as David Lynch, Pedro Costa, and Bela Tarr drew obvious inspiration from Tarkovsky’s minimalist appreciation for tempo, earthly decay, and visual textures. Although this film’s theatrically bound narrative structure of philosophical discourse bogs down as much as it reveals, ‘Stalker’ is a daring film that takes its audience on a necessarily Eastern European sci-fi inflected trip of the mind.


Alexander Kaidanovsky plays the ‘Stalker’ of the film’s title, which screenwriters Boris and Arkady Strugatsky transposed from Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Stalky & Co.’ stories for the protagonist of their initial novel.  Looking like a Russian Woody Harrelson, Kaidanovsky’s Stalker works as a guide into the Zone, a dangerous region bereft of wildlife save a few fish a dog that contains a Room that enables its visitors to realize their innermost desires. Stalker admits that he has never in his life ‘seen one happy person.’ It doesn’t bode well for his two clients, a science professor and a writer, both of whom are two of the least fulfilled people you could imagine.     


The wet and toxic landscape that Tarkovsky presents is unnerving. No comfort is anywhere to be found. Everything is muddy and wet. There isn't even a tree stump you'd want to sit on. Tarkovsky savors awkward beauty in the ostensibly post-war debris that rots in shallow bodies of water that exists as constant reminders of life that once resided there. The filmmakers utilized two disused hydro power plants for key sequences in areas poisoned by toxic factories. The association with Chernobyl is no joke.  

While the script seems more adaptable to a stage play, the film's visual impact is at once horrible and lovely. Truly this is a movie for its audience to stalk. You might not find any answers, but you will learn some things about yourself while searching.


Not Rated. 183 mins. (B) (Three stars — out of five / no halves)

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Mike picked Ommegang's Nirvana IPA for us to imbibe while chewing the fat over Andrei Tarkovsky's STALKER.

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