Sunday, June 17, 2007

Stalker (1979)

****
USSR

Andrei Tarkovsky's second unconventional foray into science fiction concerns a mysterious 'Zone' in an unnamed small country, which scores of villagers have entered, never to be seen again. A superstition persists however, that the Zone contains an inner chamber referred to as the Room, which holds the power to grant the committed pilgrim's deepest wish. So a trained 'Stalker' can make a living by dodging the heavily armed patrol that guards the Zone (though is too terrified to enter it) and serve as tour guide to the faithful and sceptical alike as long as they are eager to brave the threat of doom in their committed search of things like inspiration and Truth. This is a dense, often oblique, sometimes awkward but never less than fascinating meditation on matters of what the viewer is encouraged to independently interpret as either faith or superstition. It's easy enough to infer that Tarkovsky himself is certain that God exists and the fault behind everything that is wrong with your life lies with You and not with Him. But he gives you ample room to participate in his dialectic even as you doubt his convictions. He ends the piece on an atypically trite note, but along the way, he offers up regularly entrancing imagery as well as enlightening pointers into some of the darker, more desperate impulses lodged in humanity's core.

dir: Andrei Tarkovsky
wr: Arkadi Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky, Andrei Tarkovsky
ph: Aleksandr Knyazhinsky
cast: Aleksandr Kajdanovsky, Anatoli Solonitsyn, Nikolai Grinko, Alisa Frejndlikh, Natasha Abramova

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