DVD Review – Stalker (1979)

stalker CAE

Andrei Tarkovsky is a rarity among filmmakers in that he creates films that resemble elaborate (and always smartly written, beautifully shot and superbly acted) puzzles. The pieces are always scattered, and Tarkovsky relies on his viewer to bring the final element of the puzzle along with him. SOLARIS explores the boundaries of consciousness and the sense of grief (and it uses the titular planet as a metaphor for God). ANDREI RUBLEV is a multi-layered voyage into religious belief. STALKER, however, is far more spiritual and existential than both of them.

Certainly the Zone means more to Stalker than the Room. The Room is his living, but the Zone is an escape, a sanctuary from the noisy, industrial rusting slum where he lives (captured brilliantly in metallic sepia). In the Zone everything eventually returns to nature – like a pastoral coral reef growing on a battleship lichen and mosses engulf factory buildings and tanks. His first action on arriving there is to leave the other two occupied while he communes with the natural things growing in the zone, the grasses, the dew, the soil, the tiny worm that dances head-over-tail down his hand.

Stalker is prime-cut Tarkovsky – maybe not as heady as his other works, but I can’t imagine he ever beats it in atmosphere. And while it does seem to display a smoother plot progression than the other works of his I’ve seen, there is plenty of intellectual discussion and philosophizing about the nature of art and desire, specifically at the rest stop outside the Dry Tunnel, that fans of his more contemplative films should enjoy.

Peter Fletcher

Sci-fi, Drama, Arthouse | Russia, 1979 | PG | Curzon Artificial Eye | 22nd August 2016 (UK) | Dir. Andrei Tarkovsky | Alisa Freyndlikh, Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, Anatoliy Solonitsyn |Buy:[Blu-ray]