This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
TheFilmArdent ✝️’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
How can you find a way to find faith in a world devoid of spirituality? How can we save ourselves without spirituality? Is it too late to search for meaning in our faithless world? In the 1979 film, Stalker. Tarkovsky takes us on a meditative path through the Zone. A place within this Zone called the Room is a place where one’s innermost desires come true. A guide named Stalker finds people to give them something to believe in. He sneaks them illegally into the Zone. A chance at salvation. There he takes The Writer who is suffering from writer's block and wants inspiration. The second person is The Professor who wants to win the Nobel Prize. But when they arrive at the threshold of the Room they don’t enter. Why do they not enter? Are they afraid they won’t receive the desire they want the most?
Early on in the film, we come to find out about the unfortunate fate of Porcupine, a former Stalker who was also Stalker’s teacher who helped open his eyes. He began hating the Zone for some reason. His reason due to hating the Zone was that he wanted to bring his brother back. However, the Zone granted his secret innermost desire which was wealth. This secret desire is what unfortunately led Porcupine to commit suicide. Is this why The Writer and The Professor don’t enter the Room? Are they afraid of what they will receive instead?
What does The Zone represent? Is it a miracle? A meteorite? A sign of extraterrestrial life visiting Earth? According to Tarkovsky, “There is only one answer: the Zone doesn’t exist. It's Stalker himself who invented his Zone. He created it to take some very unhappy people there, and to impose on them the idea of hope. The chamber of desires is also a Stalker creation, one more provocation in the face of the material world. This provocation, constructed in Stalker's spirit, corresponds to an act of faith.” So if the Zone doesn’t exist then why does The Stalker risk his freedom to take people there? Is this something he made up entirely to give people the idea that it’s never too late to live in a faithful world?
At the beginning of the film, we find out from his wife that The Stalker served five years in prison, and was promised a decent job. Despite serving prison time and even risking his freedom, The Stalker has a spiritual mission to carry out: to find people who believe in something. To help them find their salvation and give them hope in a life devoid of spirituality. The Stalker is willing to risk losing his freedom, and his family and serve ten years in prison to save mankind with spirituality. In a faithless world, The Stalker could be depicted as a devoted believer of Jesus Christ, a man of faith. The Zone could symbolize a place that represents the last destination of hope. I believe he takes people there to give them something to believe in. A chance to restore their trust in God, and fulfilling their desires to find purpose in life. The Stalker sees The Zone as a symbol of his faith. A place he treasures the most. He believes this is the place where you bring people here to hope. But is it too late to have hope in a world that rejects God? Is this why The Stalker cries at the end of the film because of The Writer and The Professor rejecting the Room? A symbol for the existence of God?
The Professor doesn’t enter the room because his real intention was to destroy the room at all costs. He fears what could potentially happen if everyone suddenly believes in this room. Especially the ones who are innately evil and have no desire to make the world a better place. However, The Stalker reassures Professor that he would never bring that sort of person here but Professor tells him that you’re not the only Stalker in the world. “No Stalker knows what ideas the people you bring here to take away with them.” The Professor wants to destroy the Room to prevent the innately evil people from going there and fulfilling their own personal agenda. He believes this room won’t bring anyone happiness. But how does The Professor know that if anyone were to gain entryway inside The Zone, then it won’t bring anyone happiness? What if there’s people who are in dire need of salvation and the only way to seek this happiness and possibly salvation is The Room? If The Room fell into the wrong hands, how would the world will look? How can we know everyone’s innermost desires or secret desires to remake the world the way they see fit? But how do we know The Professor’s intentions aren’t designed to prevent the good ones from entering the Zone? How can you prevent people from going to the Zone? What if there are people who need to believe in something again? To restore their hope and faith in Him? In the end, The Professor decides not to follow through with his plan when he realizes how important the Zone means to The Stalker. In the end, The Professor gets nothing. Are The Professor’s intentions good? Does he want to prevent anyone — whether good or bad — from using the room for their benefit?
But what about The Writer? What is his reason for not entering the Zone? While his purpose is to find a cure for writer’s block, I think at this point in his life he struggles to accept himself for who he is. He’s drained of inspiration and the passion he once had for writing art and literature has vanished. But if he detests writing then what’s the point? If no one reads his books within 100 years then why bother to write? Is this why he doesn’t enter the room? Is he afraid that whatever his secret desire maybe would wind up costing him his life like Porcupine? Or does he prefer to continue denying the existence of God? During the fight scene, The Writer doesn’t think anyone is capable of truly grasping the unknown of the Zone. He believes the reason The Stalker takes people to the Zone is that he believes he’s drunk with power and acts like he’s God who decides who lives and who dies and benefits from their misery and suffering. I think The Writer uses his death as an example because I think even he is afraid of what could be his secret desire. While he desires nothing more but to regain his talent to create inspiring art in literature, I think he fears that what he might get in return is something that will make him unhappy and could lead to his demise. The Writer already doesn’t believe in anything anymore and looks at The Stalker as one of God’s fools. This is him denying God’s existence and refusing to restore his faith in Him. In the end, he gets nothing.
In the end, The Stalker returns home and undergoes a spiritual crisis. He’s devastated by the sheer fact that no one believes in anything anymore. Not just The Writer and Professor. Everyone. He cries out to Lord and fears nobody needs that Room and worries all of his efforts and attempts to help people were in vain. He says he doesn’t plan on going back to the Zone and his Wife offers to go with him. The Stalker refuses. She asks why and he says what if you fail, too? Could this mean that the last person The Stalker wants to let down is his wife? Is he afraid she’ll lose her faith if she goes with him?
Stalker is about living in a faithless world where a man of faith helps others restore their faith and hope in God. But in the end, does The Stalker make a difference? Does he use the Zone as a miracle? Is it too late to repent and seek forgiveness? Can we use the Room to heal ourselves and restore faith in Him?
2 Corinthians 5:7
7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
Stalker has become one of my favorite films of All time. It’s challenging, meditative, and a thematically and cinematic rich experience for the viewer. I wanted to dedicate this entry to FilmEnthusiast3 His writing and the passion he expresses through his writing inspired me to write about films on a deeper, analytical level. While I don’t think my writing style holds a candle to his because he is a better writer than me but the more I read his reviews, the more I feel inspired and motivated to write. Thank you for your inspiration and for sharing your insight.