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A ndrei Tarkovsky's Stalker (1980) came second, behind Blade Runner, in a recent BFI poll of its members' top movies. In outline, it's one of the simplest films ever made: a guide, or Stalker, takes two people, Writer and Professor, into a forbidden area called the Zone, at the heart of which is the Room, where your deepest wish will come true. It is this simplicity that gives the film its fathomless resonance. If Tarkovsky's previous film, Solaris, seemed like a Soviet 2001, was Stalker Tarkovsky's take on The Wizard of Oz?

Sometimes wry scepticism is a more appropriate tribute than po-faced reverence, especially given that Tarkovsky leaves ample room for doubt. Any claim made for the Zone ("the quietest place in the world," says the Stalker) is countered by the suggestion that it's a bit disappointing ("smells like a bog," says Professor). In an interview Tarkovsky even raised the possibility that the Zone did not exist and was merely the Stalker's invention.

Though it's easily forgotten, there's often a touch of comedy - even slapstick - in Tarkovsky-land. Deep in the Zone, on the threshold of the Room, the three guys are pondering the mysteries of existence when a phone rings. The professor answers: "Hello? No, this is not the clinic!" Was this the inspiration for those Orange-sponsored "Don't let a phone ruin your movie" scenarios?

HOWEVER we may be doing in the arms race or the space race, we're winning the science fiction movie race by a mile. Andrei Tarkovsky's ''Stalker,'' a somber futuristic fantasy from the Soviet Union, attempts to build an apocalyptic vision out of the most impoverished materials imaginable. It's certainly not necessary to construct an Oz or an E.T. in the service of every film fantasy. On the other hand, the fact that film is a visual medium cannot entirely be ignored. ''Stalker'' offers the eye so little that it might well have made a better novel, or short story, than a nearly three-hour-long film.

The screenplay, by Arkady and Boris Strugatzky, actually is based on their novel, ''The Picnic at a Roadside.'' But Mr. Tarkovsky has apparently made the material very much his own. In a bleak, unspecified future, three men make a journey into the Zone, a deserted and forbidden place. They are a writer, a science professor and a ''stalker,'' the latter being an unauthorized guide who himself cannot resist the Zone. Though it is dangerous to travel there (the stalker has fathered a mysterious, crippled child, presumably because of his earlier exposure to the place), it is tempting as well. At the Zone's center is a spot where anyone's wishes may come true.

Not even the journey itself is staged with any urgency. The three men seem to cover only a few hundred yards, once they leave the city (with a nuclear power plant prominent in its skyline) where the film begins. The last part of the journey is set in a large, leaky drainage pipe, where the characters proceed tentatively and in silence. Quiet shots of one man or another walking warily through a stretch of pipe seem to go on for five minutes at a time.

Some directors seem made for critical fodder. Hitchcock, Welles, Ford, Kurosawa, and others in the cinematic pantheon have inspired an academic avalanche, a cottage industry in analysis and interpretation.

Andrei Tarkovsky is not an exception – like Eisenstein, he has become an icon of Russian filmmaking. And like many another object of veneration, he and his works have generated an intimidatingly swollen stream of ecclesiastical interpretation. In all fairness, Tarkovsky started it. Possessed of a highly developed sense of self, he wrote and spoke of his work voluminously, in complex and sometimes impenetrable terms.

Of course, iconoclasts sprang up as well. G. C. Macnab delivers a succinct chop block to the oeuvre: “Too opaque to yield concrete meaning, it offers itself as a sacral art, demanding a rapt, and even religious, response from its audiences” (1) . The adjectives “ponderous”, “portentous”, and “saturnine” litter his summation of Tarkovsky’s career. As always, today’s revolutionaries are the old farts of tomorrow.

Note: you can view the trailer for Stalker immediately above, then watch the film in its entirety on Mosfilm's o fficial Youtube channel here . Or on Daily Motion in three:  Part 1 ,  Part 2 , and Part 3 .

“I feel like every single frame of the film is burned into my retina,” said Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett about the movie Stalker   (1979). “I hadn't seen anything like it before and I haven't really seen anything like it since.

Andrei Tarkovsky ’s final film in the USSR seems like an unlikely movie to have a devoted, almost cultish, following. It is a dense, multivalent, maddeningly elusive work that has little of the narrative pay-offs of a Hollywood movie. Yet the film is so slippery and so seemingly pliable to an endless number of interpretations that it requires multiple viewing. “I've seen Stalker more times than any film except The Great Escape ,” wrote novelist and critic Geoff Dyer ,” and it's never quite as I remember. Like the Zone, it's always changing.”

What is Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker really about? Geoff Dyer on a film so demanding it may even have killed its director

Russell Crowe wrestles angels and demons in Darren Aronofsky's $125m mashup of the ancient story of Noah, writes Mark Kermode

A ndrei Tarkovsky's Stalker (1980) came second, behind Blade Runner, in a recent BFI poll of its members' top movies. In outline, it's one of the simplest films ever made: a guide, or Stalker, takes two people, Writer and Professor, into a forbidden area called the Zone, at the heart of which is the Room, where your deepest wish will come true. It is this simplicity that gives the film its fathomless resonance. If Tarkovsky's previous film, Solaris, seemed like a Soviet 2001, was Stalker Tarkovsky's take on The Wizard of Oz?

Sometimes wry scepticism is a more appropriate tribute than po-faced reverence, especially given that Tarkovsky leaves ample room for doubt. Any claim made for the Zone ("the quietest place in the world," says the Stalker) is countered by the suggestion that it's a bit disappointing ("smells like a bog," says Professor). In an interview Tarkovsky even raised the possibility that the Zone did not exist and was merely the Stalker's invention.

Though it's easily forgotten, there's often a touch of comedy - even slapstick - in Tarkovsky-land. Deep in the Zone, on the threshold of the Room, the three guys are pondering the mysteries of existence when a phone rings. The professor answers: "Hello? No, this is not the clinic!" Was this the inspiration for those Orange-sponsored "Don't let a phone ruin your movie" scenarios?

HOWEVER we may be doing in the arms race or the space race, we're winning the science fiction movie race by a mile. Andrei Tarkovsky's ''Stalker,'' a somber futuristic fantasy from the Soviet Union, attempts to build an apocalyptic vision out of the most impoverished materials imaginable. It's certainly not necessary to construct an Oz or an E.T. in the service of every film fantasy. On the other hand, the fact that film is a visual medium cannot entirely be ignored. ''Stalker'' offers the eye so little that it might well have made a better novel, or short story, than a nearly three-hour-long film.

The screenplay, by Arkady and Boris Strugatzky, actually is based on their novel, ''The Picnic at a Roadside.'' But Mr. Tarkovsky has apparently made the material very much his own. In a bleak, unspecified future, three men make a journey into the Zone, a deserted and forbidden place. They are a writer, a science professor and a ''stalker,'' the latter being an unauthorized guide who himself cannot resist the Zone. Though it is dangerous to travel there (the stalker has fathered a mysterious, crippled child, presumably because of his earlier exposure to the place), it is tempting as well. At the Zone's center is a spot where anyone's wishes may come true.

Not even the journey itself is staged with any urgency. The three men seem to cover only a few hundred yards, once they leave the city (with a nuclear power plant prominent in its skyline) where the film begins. The last part of the journey is set in a large, leaky drainage pipe, where the characters proceed tentatively and in silence. Quiet shots of one man or another walking warily through a stretch of pipe seem to go on for five minutes at a time.

A ndrei Tarkovsky's Stalker (1980) came second, behind Blade Runner, in a recent BFI poll of its members' top movies. In outline, it's one of the simplest films ever made: a guide, or Stalker, takes two people, Writer and Professor, into a forbidden area called the Zone, at the heart of which is the Room, where your deepest wish will come true. It is this simplicity that gives the film its fathomless resonance. If Tarkovsky's previous film, Solaris, seemed like a Soviet 2001, was Stalker Tarkovsky's take on The Wizard of Oz?

Sometimes wry scepticism is a more appropriate tribute than po-faced reverence, especially given that Tarkovsky leaves ample room for doubt. Any claim made for the Zone ("the quietest place in the world," says the Stalker) is countered by the suggestion that it's a bit disappointing ("smells like a bog," says Professor). In an interview Tarkovsky even raised the possibility that the Zone did not exist and was merely the Stalker's invention.

Though it's easily forgotten, there's often a touch of comedy - even slapstick - in Tarkovsky-land. Deep in the Zone, on the threshold of the Room, the three guys are pondering the mysteries of existence when a phone rings. The professor answers: "Hello? No, this is not the clinic!" Was this the inspiration for those Orange-sponsored "Don't let a phone ruin your movie" scenarios?

HOWEVER we may be doing in the arms race or the space race, we're winning the science fiction movie race by a mile. Andrei Tarkovsky's ''Stalker,'' a somber futuristic fantasy from the Soviet Union, attempts to build an apocalyptic vision out of the most impoverished materials imaginable. It's certainly not necessary to construct an Oz or an E.T. in the service of every film fantasy. On the other hand, the fact that film is a visual medium cannot entirely be ignored. ''Stalker'' offers the eye so little that it might well have made a better novel, or short story, than a nearly three-hour-long film.

The screenplay, by Arkady and Boris Strugatzky, actually is based on their novel, ''The Picnic at a Roadside.'' But Mr. Tarkovsky has apparently made the material very much his own. In a bleak, unspecified future, three men make a journey into the Zone, a deserted and forbidden place. They are a writer, a science professor and a ''stalker,'' the latter being an unauthorized guide who himself cannot resist the Zone. Though it is dangerous to travel there (the stalker has fathered a mysterious, crippled child, presumably because of his earlier exposure to the place), it is tempting as well. At the Zone's center is a spot where anyone's wishes may come true.

Not even the journey itself is staged with any urgency. The three men seem to cover only a few hundred yards, once they leave the city (with a nuclear power plant prominent in its skyline) where the film begins. The last part of the journey is set in a large, leaky drainage pipe, where the characters proceed tentatively and in silence. Quiet shots of one man or another walking warily through a stretch of pipe seem to go on for five minutes at a time.

Some directors seem made for critical fodder. Hitchcock, Welles, Ford, Kurosawa, and others in the cinematic pantheon have inspired an academic avalanche, a cottage industry in analysis and interpretation.

Andrei Tarkovsky is not an exception – like Eisenstein, he has become an icon of Russian filmmaking. And like many another object of veneration, he and his works have generated an intimidatingly swollen stream of ecclesiastical interpretation. In all fairness, Tarkovsky started it. Possessed of a highly developed sense of self, he wrote and spoke of his work voluminously, in complex and sometimes impenetrable terms.

Of course, iconoclasts sprang up as well. G. C. Macnab delivers a succinct chop block to the oeuvre: “Too opaque to yield concrete meaning, it offers itself as a sacral art, demanding a rapt, and even religious, response from its audiences” (1) . The adjectives “ponderous”, “portentous”, and “saturnine” litter his summation of Tarkovsky’s career. As always, today’s revolutionaries are the old farts of tomorrow.

Note: you can view the trailer for Stalker immediately above, then watch the film in its entirety on Mosfilm's o fficial Youtube channel here . Or on Daily Motion in three:  Part 1 ,  Part 2 , and Part 3 .

“I feel like every single frame of the film is burned into my retina,” said Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett about the movie Stalker   (1979). “I hadn't seen anything like it before and I haven't really seen anything like it since.

Andrei Tarkovsky ’s final film in the USSR seems like an unlikely movie to have a devoted, almost cultish, following. It is a dense, multivalent, maddeningly elusive work that has little of the narrative pay-offs of a Hollywood movie. Yet the film is so slippery and so seemingly pliable to an endless number of interpretations that it requires multiple viewing. “I've seen Stalker more times than any film except The Great Escape ,” wrote novelist and critic Geoff Dyer ,” and it's never quite as I remember. Like the Zone, it's always changing.”

A ndrei Tarkovsky's Stalker (1980) came second, behind Blade Runner, in a recent BFI poll of its members' top movies. In outline, it's one of the simplest films ever made: a guide, or Stalker, takes two people, Writer and Professor, into a forbidden area called the Zone, at the heart of which is the Room, where your deepest wish will come true. It is this simplicity that gives the film its fathomless resonance. If Tarkovsky's previous film, Solaris, seemed like a Soviet 2001, was Stalker Tarkovsky's take on The Wizard of Oz?

Sometimes wry scepticism is a more appropriate tribute than po-faced reverence, especially given that Tarkovsky leaves ample room for doubt. Any claim made for the Zone ("the quietest place in the world," says the Stalker) is countered by the suggestion that it's a bit disappointing ("smells like a bog," says Professor). In an interview Tarkovsky even raised the possibility that the Zone did not exist and was merely the Stalker's invention.

Though it's easily forgotten, there's often a touch of comedy - even slapstick - in Tarkovsky-land. Deep in the Zone, on the threshold of the Room, the three guys are pondering the mysteries of existence when a phone rings. The professor answers: "Hello? No, this is not the clinic!" Was this the inspiration for those Orange-sponsored "Don't let a phone ruin your movie" scenarios?

A ndrei Tarkovsky's Stalker (1980) came second, behind Blade Runner, in a recent BFI poll of its members' top movies. In outline, it's one of the simplest films ever made: a guide, or Stalker, takes two people, Writer and Professor, into a forbidden area called the Zone, at the heart of which is the Room, where your deepest wish will come true. It is this simplicity that gives the film its fathomless resonance. If Tarkovsky's previous film, Solaris, seemed like a Soviet 2001, was Stalker Tarkovsky's take on The Wizard of Oz?

Sometimes wry scepticism is a more appropriate tribute than po-faced reverence, especially given that Tarkovsky leaves ample room for doubt. Any claim made for the Zone ("the quietest place in the world," says the Stalker) is countered by the suggestion that it's a bit disappointing ("smells like a bog," says Professor). In an interview Tarkovsky even raised the possibility that the Zone did not exist and was merely the Stalker's invention.

Though it's easily forgotten, there's often a touch of comedy - even slapstick - in Tarkovsky-land. Deep in the Zone, on the threshold of the Room, the three guys are pondering the mysteries of existence when a phone rings. The professor answers: "Hello? No, this is not the clinic!" Was this the inspiration for those Orange-sponsored "Don't let a phone ruin your movie" scenarios?

HOWEVER we may be doing in the arms race or the space race, we're winning the science fiction movie race by a mile. Andrei Tarkovsky's ''Stalker,'' a somber futuristic fantasy from the Soviet Union, attempts to build an apocalyptic vision out of the most impoverished materials imaginable. It's certainly not necessary to construct an Oz or an E.T. in the service of every film fantasy. On the other hand, the fact that film is a visual medium cannot entirely be ignored. ''Stalker'' offers the eye so little that it might well have made a better novel, or short story, than a nearly three-hour-long film.

The screenplay, by Arkady and Boris Strugatzky, actually is based on their novel, ''The Picnic at a Roadside.'' But Mr. Tarkovsky has apparently made the material very much his own. In a bleak, unspecified future, three men make a journey into the Zone, a deserted and forbidden place. They are a writer, a science professor and a ''stalker,'' the latter being an unauthorized guide who himself cannot resist the Zone. Though it is dangerous to travel there (the stalker has fathered a mysterious, crippled child, presumably because of his earlier exposure to the place), it is tempting as well. At the Zone's center is a spot where anyone's wishes may come true.

Not even the journey itself is staged with any urgency. The three men seem to cover only a few hundred yards, once they leave the city (with a nuclear power plant prominent in its skyline) where the film begins. The last part of the journey is set in a large, leaky drainage pipe, where the characters proceed tentatively and in silence. Quiet shots of one man or another walking warily through a stretch of pipe seem to go on for five minutes at a time.

Some directors seem made for critical fodder. Hitchcock, Welles, Ford, Kurosawa, and others in the cinematic pantheon have inspired an academic avalanche, a cottage industry in analysis and interpretation.

Andrei Tarkovsky is not an exception – like Eisenstein, he has become an icon of Russian filmmaking. And like many another object of veneration, he and his works have generated an intimidatingly swollen stream of ecclesiastical interpretation. In all fairness, Tarkovsky started it. Possessed of a highly developed sense of self, he wrote and spoke of his work voluminously, in complex and sometimes impenetrable terms.

Of course, iconoclasts sprang up as well. G. C. Macnab delivers a succinct chop block to the oeuvre: “Too opaque to yield concrete meaning, it offers itself as a sacral art, demanding a rapt, and even religious, response from its audiences” (1) . The adjectives “ponderous”, “portentous”, and “saturnine” litter his summation of Tarkovsky’s career. As always, today’s revolutionaries are the old farts of tomorrow.

A ndrei Tarkovsky's Stalker (1980) came second, behind Blade Runner, in a recent BFI poll of its members' top movies. In outline, it's one of the simplest films ever made: a guide, or Stalker, takes two people, Writer and Professor, into a forbidden area called the Zone, at the heart of which is the Room, where your deepest wish will come true. It is this simplicity that gives the film its fathomless resonance. If Tarkovsky's previous film, Solaris, seemed like a Soviet 2001, was Stalker Tarkovsky's take on The Wizard of Oz?

Sometimes wry scepticism is a more appropriate tribute than po-faced reverence, especially given that Tarkovsky leaves ample room for doubt. Any claim made for the Zone ("the quietest place in the world," says the Stalker) is countered by the suggestion that it's a bit disappointing ("smells like a bog," says Professor). In an interview Tarkovsky even raised the possibility that the Zone did not exist and was merely the Stalker's invention.

Though it's easily forgotten, there's often a touch of comedy - even slapstick - in Tarkovsky-land. Deep in the Zone, on the threshold of the Room, the three guys are pondering the mysteries of existence when a phone rings. The professor answers: "Hello? No, this is not the clinic!" Was this the inspiration for those Orange-sponsored "Don't let a phone ruin your movie" scenarios?

HOWEVER we may be doing in the arms race or the space race, we're winning the science fiction movie race by a mile. Andrei Tarkovsky's ''Stalker,'' a somber futuristic fantasy from the Soviet Union, attempts to build an apocalyptic vision out of the most impoverished materials imaginable. It's certainly not necessary to construct an Oz or an E.T. in the service of every film fantasy. On the other hand, the fact that film is a visual medium cannot entirely be ignored. ''Stalker'' offers the eye so little that it might well have made a better novel, or short story, than a nearly three-hour-long film.

The screenplay, by Arkady and Boris Strugatzky, actually is based on their novel, ''The Picnic at a Roadside.'' But Mr. Tarkovsky has apparently made the material very much his own. In a bleak, unspecified future, three men make a journey into the Zone, a deserted and forbidden place. They are a writer, a science professor and a ''stalker,'' the latter being an unauthorized guide who himself cannot resist the Zone. Though it is dangerous to travel there (the stalker has fathered a mysterious, crippled child, presumably because of his earlier exposure to the place), it is tempting as well. At the Zone's center is a spot where anyone's wishes may come true.

Not even the journey itself is staged with any urgency. The three men seem to cover only a few hundred yards, once they leave the city (with a nuclear power plant prominent in its skyline) where the film begins. The last part of the journey is set in a large, leaky drainage pipe, where the characters proceed tentatively and in silence. Quiet shots of one man or another walking warily through a stretch of pipe seem to go on for five minutes at a time.

Some directors seem made for critical fodder. Hitchcock, Welles, Ford, Kurosawa, and others in the cinematic pantheon have inspired an academic avalanche, a cottage industry in analysis and interpretation.

Andrei Tarkovsky is not an exception – like Eisenstein, he has become an icon of Russian filmmaking. And like many another object of veneration, he and his works have generated an intimidatingly swollen stream of ecclesiastical interpretation. In all fairness, Tarkovsky started it. Possessed of a highly developed sense of self, he wrote and spoke of his work voluminously, in complex and sometimes impenetrable terms.

Of course, iconoclasts sprang up as well. G. C. Macnab delivers a succinct chop block to the oeuvre: “Too opaque to yield concrete meaning, it offers itself as a sacral art, demanding a rapt, and even religious, response from its audiences” (1) . The adjectives “ponderous”, “portentous”, and “saturnine” litter his summation of Tarkovsky’s career. As always, today’s revolutionaries are the old farts of tomorrow.

Note: you can view the trailer for Stalker immediately above, then watch the film in its entirety on Mosfilm's o fficial Youtube channel here . Or on Daily Motion in three:  Part 1 ,  Part 2 , and Part 3 .

“I feel like every single frame of the film is burned into my retina,” said Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett about the movie Stalker   (1979). “I hadn't seen anything like it before and I haven't really seen anything like it since.

Andrei Tarkovsky ’s final film in the USSR seems like an unlikely movie to have a devoted, almost cultish, following. It is a dense, multivalent, maddeningly elusive work that has little of the narrative pay-offs of a Hollywood movie. Yet the film is so slippery and so seemingly pliable to an endless number of interpretations that it requires multiple viewing. “I've seen Stalker more times than any film except The Great Escape ,” wrote novelist and critic Geoff Dyer ,” and it's never quite as I remember. Like the Zone, it's always changing.”

What is Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker really about? Geoff Dyer on a film so demanding it may even have killed its director

Russell Crowe wrestles angels and demons in Darren Aronofsky's $125m mashup of the ancient story of Noah, writes Mark Kermode

J. Hoberman’s latest book, “Film After Film; Or,What Became of 21st Century Cinema?,” will be published this spring.


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