Stalker (1979)
July 19, 2016 6:14 PM - Subscribe

In Andrei Tarkovsky's Russian-language masterpiece, a Stalker leads two men into the Zone – an alien place guarded by barbed wire and soldiers – to find the Room, a place where it is believed one's secret hopes come true. Adapted by its authors from the book Roadside Picnic, Stalker (trailer) is a beautiful, ponderous, dreamlike film – one which, though difficult to summarize, commonly ranks among the greatest films of all time.
posted by churl (14 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Oh heck yeah. Amazing film.

Something of note, the title, chosen by Tarkovsky himself, I believe, is pretty misleading. Stalker here means more in terms of stalking a prey where the prey is this mysterious room. Guide might have been more accurate for English-language folk.

There's a great scene when they first enter the Zone and see the Room just like right over there, seriously, man, it's friggin' right there! but the guide, being all mysterious, insists that they won't make it if they go that way. It's hard to explain -- and I haven't seen the film in at least a decade -- but it works really well and stuck with me.
posted by bfootdav at 6:52 PM on July 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

For me this movie is like the space between wakefulness and sleep - you know things are still real, but can't be sure they will stay that way forever.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:16 PM on July 19, 2016 [6 favorites]

It also inspired one of the best dark ambient albums of all time, Robert Rich and Lustmord's 1995 collaboration Stalker.

Sample track on Youtube: Undulating Terrain
posted by lefty lucky cat at 8:11 AM on July 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Also, the survival horror FPS series S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
posted by churl at 9:07 AM on July 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've been meaning to read Zona, Geoff Dyer's book-length essay about this movie. I read the first chapter a while back and seems like it would be rewarding (assuming you enjoy, or can at least tolerate Geoff Dyer).
posted by paper chromatographologist at 10:45 AM on July 20, 2016

I watched this recently and was sort of stunned having just come off of the podcast TANIS and the Southern Reach book series, which are built on very similar themes, down to even not naming the characters within their Zone. TANIS, at least, makes specific reference to Roadside Picnic (the book Stalker is based on) as being thematically linked.
posted by Itaxpica at 12:28 PM on July 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Something of note, the title, chosen by Tarkovsky himself, I believe, is pretty misleading. Stalker here means more in terms of stalking a prey where the prey is this mysterious room.

If I remember the forward correctly, Roadside Picnic called the guides/poachers 'stalkers' because the novel was set in America and stalker was a cool sounding English word. (Though still in the hunter sense.)
posted by nom de poop at 5:56 AM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Perfect timing; I just finished reading the 2012 translation of Roadside Picnic, with an odd/funny/sad afterword from Boris and a brief foreward from Ursula Le Guin, and was planning on watching Tarkovsky's version in the next week or two. The book is great, beautifully written and thrilling and strange and dark, as good as the best of Philip K Dick and better than most of Dick's stuff, with some of the sexism you'd expect from early 70s Soviet scifi but not so much it ruins the story. Highly recommend the book. Well see about the movie soon.
posted by mediareport at 9:39 PM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

And of course Netflix has it on DVD but with the dreaded "very long wait." God I wish they hadn't stopped replenishing their DVD stock.
posted by mediareport at 6:47 PM on July 26, 2016

I have good news for you, mediareport!
posted by tobascodagama at 6:58 PM on July 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I love you until the end of time. Like Bill loved Monica, but with less staining.
posted by mediareport at 7:32 PM on July 26, 2016

Just watched this for the first time prompted by many reviewers saying how much Annihilation owes to it. And after watching it, I can't argue with that.

Amazing film, I'd love to see it in a dark theater so that I could really soak in the visuals and the intense sound design.

Oh and the new Criterion restoration that's up on FilmStruck looks so good.
posted by octothorpe at 7:36 PM on March 14, 2018

Saw it again today for the "book" club group.

Things seemed clearer to me the second time, maybe I have just gotten more used to movie language, I am more ready to believe in and be shown things. The call for a better world was clear; the daughter's role as the next generation very clear.

We had some fun theorizing about whether the Stalker has gone into the room before, or received a wish through proximity. One theory is that in the past he received a wish of wanting to have some purpose and use in life; in addition, now after being in jail he wants things to be better for his family, and so maybe the daughter and wife's actions indicate they can move on as well.

A little too much religious imagery still. I think I had blanked that out.

Most people found it too slow, but tbh I found it less tedious than John Wick 4.
posted by fleacircus at 10:47 PM on June 24, 2023

I don't understand the purpose of the dog. Why is the dog shown in monochrome visions, at first, from inside the zone; what is its importance, etc.
posted by fleacircus at 10:50 PM on June 24, 2023

« Older Podcast: Within the Wires: Rel...   |  Steven Universe: Mr. Greg... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments