Stalker ★★★★½

The background to this is as mystifying as the film itself...
Tarkovskian in the fullest sense of being ambiguous to a tee, mythical and allegorical, though never settling on defining any of these values outright.
Perhaps the indulgent non sequiturs were one too many, the philosophical speech veers into cod poetry, and yet, deep down in its murky waters, it is resonant when questioning the inherent egoist male desire for legacy and greed.
Its soliloquies are enlightening; opening up doors to internal fears and regrets that the narrative need not explore much further.
The central enigma of ‘the Zone’ and ‘the Room’ playfully offer promises of a magical salvation that ultimately serve up a moral decision to the three main characters. 
The film reminded me greatly of a dystopian tale, Edward Lear’s poem The Jumblies, but with an imagined (off camera) visual experience of the wonders seen.
In the film cannon, you can appreciate how much dystopian sci-fi has riffed off the idea of a journey to obtain a cure-all (which defies the laws of logic) - Cube (1997) where the ensemble find themselves in a series of dangerous & futuristic rooms, and ulterior motives are slowly revealed, and indeed desires wane. I also felt that ‘The Shimmer’ Annihilation (2018) uses as its McGuffin is similar in manner to ‘The Room’ here.
You can see why the film is revered for its content and form by academics.
The Criterion print is crystal clear, allowing you to soak in Tarkovsky’s scene compositions that must have been so delicately put together. The art in motion truly is painterly and synchronic. 
Yes, some of the socialist commentary and dialogue is a bit wanky, as are the laboured pauses and pace - but you came to watch a Tarkovsky film, not a bombastic Michael Bay movie.

Neil liked this review