Stalker

Stalker ★★★★★

There is no way that I am trying to get to the core of what Tarkovsky was trying to get across here. Not after only one viewing. Still, I will point out how expertly staged this film is. Already in that early bedroom sequence you can see shots that are hypnotically long as well as insanely well framed. Afterwards we enter a sickly looking cityscape, where even the rain looks toxic and hostile.

The titular Stalker describes himself as wretched, I would call him a haunted presence - quite literally, as his family is also scarred by his advances into the Zone, a dreaded and mysified place. It gave me shivers down my spine was when his companion, the Writer, gets no answer to his simple question of: "fear what?" It is hard to put in words, but even smouldering coal can be a surprisingly unsettling image once you enter the Zone.

Them lying down in the bog is also wonderfully eerie. It probably goes on for a bit too long, but this film almost transcends this kind of criticism. To be clear, I too have this craving for our heros to fight radioactive lizard men and for them to escape just in time before the bomb explodes - yet I am very glad the filmmakers picked the route of "we better not". Instead there is something far more compelling in its place: an unsettling truth buried in the film's lore.

The story of the Stalker's old mentor Porcupine and why he committed suicide is profoundly devastating. The three men's final exchanges are poignant and the following look at the nuclear power plant is downright prophetic. Stalker is a cerebral experience unlike anything that I have ever seen before.

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