Stalker ★★★★★

Sight and Sound’s Greatest Films of All Time (2022) – #43

The haunted enigma of art's true price. Ghosts inhabit every frame, in-front and behind the camera.

Everything noted in my prior review still stands upon this second viewing. Beyond being an unfathomable piece of filmmaking and igneous science fiction, Andrei Tarkovsky's "Stalker" manages to also act as a brilliant picture of faith and horror. The synthesis of body and spirit, land and belief, material and abstract throughout this vision is utterly superb, wasting not one breath on the superfluous. These characters discuss seemingly every avenue of existence and religion to a staggering degree for every minute of the film. The vigor of the writing, performances, and direction is just unparalleled. Chillingly, it's as though you can feel these people bleeding into the earth below as the mystery of the Zone weaves a riddle that dances with every sense while racking our minds with whether or not it's all actually real. What is the Zone? Is it the incarnation of the human condition? Is it truly extraterrestrial? Does it even matter?

All of the aforementioned is heightened by an atmosphere that's unnervingly elegiac from scene to scene. Through the beauty and unearthly mystique of this tale, terror manages to exist on a constant basis as we are made to ultimately fear that which we definitely do not understand. The alien presence is felt, but its origin is something we'll never comprehend unless we look far within the recesses of our own souls. Still, who knows where the answers lie?

Tarkovsky's filmography is a body of work I can't wait to delve further into. Having seen only two of his films, the rest are calling like never before after this revisitation of "Stalker." There's nothing else like it and there's no one else like Tarkovsky. He belongs to a select group of filmmakers who are true artists, painting with colors and canvases we believed only possible in our deepest dreams.

"But a man writes because he's tormented, unsure of himself. He has to keep proving his worth to himself and to others. But if I'm convinced I'm a genius - then why do I need to write?"

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