Stalker ★★★★

Finally dipped my toe in the Zone.

Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker is a stunning existential tale of three men entering a vague dimension called the Zone in order to eventually reach the Room and possibly achieve bliss. 
It's all paranoia and perplexing moments of poetic dialogue as they ascend through the bleakest of green terrains to reach that supposed nirvana.
At 2 hours and 40 minutes, this movie feels like an event. It is so slow and deliberately paced that it feels like you're dreaming. The sound design and splashes of action support this sleep-like state, with a step in a puddle feeling so perfectly placed as if you're drifting through a delay. 

Starting in a high contrast sepia tone then switching to colour when the men arrive in the Zone is an effect not unlike that of the Wizard of Oz. Stalker draws even more magic from its achingly virtuous cinematography, the minimal settings so beautifully shot that it triggers your imagination into believing there are supernatural currents beyond the trees. Almost no effects whatsoever and yet it slowly morphs into a fantastical presentation of dread. 

The story is deeply complex with dialogue that shifts from comical to poetically obtuse from scene to scene.
Around the 2 hour mark after what felt like the movie had peaked with its gorgeous visuals, the hold it had on me loosened a bit. I found the last 40 minutes full of false endings and had me flipping between rating this a 4 or a 4.5.

Ultimately it is an important work of art and lives up to its hype. Never have I seen such a minimal narrative feel like a big budget production by just how slick and beautifully shot it is. Looking forward to getting a copy and watching it every couple of years as I'm sure it'll be a 4.5 when I can take a deeper step into the Zone. 

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