XL Popcorn – Stalker

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 615/1007
Title: Stalker
Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Year: 1979
Country: USSR

Am I the only film lover who doesn’t get this film? I have been going around the web looking for someone that meets Stalker with a shrug… and I can’t find that person. That cinematic soulmate. So, I guess take my opinions on this film with an even bigger pinch of salt than usual.

For the sake of this 1001 list I have already watched two films by Andrei Tarkovsky (Solyaris and Andrei Rublev)There is a certain style that comes with a Tarkovsky film. They are on the slower side and lean heavy on the philosophy. Stalker is no exception to this, in fact this would probably be the most representative of his style.

On paper this should have been a film I could really get behind. A weird sci-fi mystery about a sentient plot of land (the Zone) and an area that can grant wishes (the Room) that can only be reached with the help of a special guide (a Stalker). Sounds great right?

For me, however, I didn’t really feel any of it, especially the mystery aspect. So much of this film is centred around languorous shots and talking about philosophy to really provide any tension. As the film went on and none of the supposed danger ever came to fruition there was a part of me that wondered if the dangers of the Zone was in the mind of the Stalker. As in, he has become so mentally broken (by the guilt of leaving his wife and physically disabled daughter behind as to serve his jail sentence) that this whole mythology of the Zone is inside his head.

I am pretty sure that this is not an adequate interpretation, but for me it is the only way that I can make some semblance of sense from this movie. Especially as we finish off with a to-camera monologue from his wife and an example of telekinesis from his daughter. The whole film is just unsettling, which can be an amazing thing (take Peeping Tom for example), but it didn’t work for me with Stalker.

On the whole, however, I can see how this would be a film that people would really enjoy. It’s just that this is one of those ‘slow movies’ that didn’t work for me. There doesn’t appear to be a way to predict this, it’s just how it is.

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