Stalker

Stalker ★★★★★

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Today: Stalker

„In a way the movie is about mankind's intervening in nature and naturalistic rhythms, the defilement of the innocence with selfish behavior shown in a microcosm of opportunities, the destruction of the bond between us and all living things.”
(The Two Cineasts)

Hi everybody, we can literally say that this transcendental movie experience changed our way to watch and understand films. It’s more than three years ago that we both shared this experience together, we already called ourselves Cineasts to that time and claimed to know a lot about pictures and their history, while working in a video shop we stumbled over this acclaimed art house movie and we were interested right from the beginning, we expected a lot but we were totally overwhelmed after finishing the film. We still can remember how we needed to stop the movie a few times because we couldn’t believe what we saw, not only because of the beauty of the pictures but also because of the multi layered craft of this masterpiece which takes our breath away every time again, we immediately fell in love with the movie and the director Andrei Tarkovsky, today our favorite director. We must accept that our movie taste was mainly defined by Hollywood pictures and our knowledge about international cinema was to a certain point limited. Now, three years later we find ourselves as great fans of international movies and our deep passion, especially with Soviet and Japanese cinema is obvious. We watched a great number of Russian speaking films and already released a list Eastern European Films Ranked with our favorite flicks of that country among others. Everything just happened, because of the great impact that Andrei Tarkovsky and his films had on us.

Stalker is not a mere science fiction movie, a space opera or a fantasy adventure, it breaks the boundaries and is simply more than science fiction, it's existential, poetic and philosophical, a visual poem with monologs and dialogues that could come from known philosophers. There is quite a lot to think about and to interpret, hidden meanings and many metaphors and it's nearly impossible to talk about all of them and meaningless too as everyone of us will understand them in a different way. It's a puzzling experience, "the zone" and finally "the room", the dive into the water showing certain objects and the appearance of an animal, there are scattered pieces everywhere and Tarkovsky forces the audience not only to pay attention at all time but to bring the pieces together to a complete picture, your very own picture. Stalker is Tarkovsky's most spiritual movie and one interpretation of ours is that "the zone" is maybe resembling the UDSSR, a little bit like the protagonist from Nostalgia the Stalker feels feels comfortable in "the zone" wants to go back again and again (even though there is a family waiting for him somewhere else) and has a certain dependency. Tristesse of everyday life through the metallic sepia filter even a wife and a child can't live up with the fact that someplace else the color is not only more vibrant but actually there at all - the grass is greener, literally. "The zone" let's everything eventually return to nature like a time capsule to our very beginnings only with the slight alteration of abandoned tanks, rotten buildings and filthy garbage. Often we joke around with calling him "the master of decay" and we dearly mean that as a compliment as no other director known to us has this special gift of a cinematic poet staging an ugly environment so beautifully with the right angles, use of color, etc. to an extent that we would love to be there,no matter how stinky and disgusting it may seem. Moreover the picture is always in complete harmonic coexistence with the text, both could work independently yet camera and script help each other to bring out the strengths of the other even more when Stalker asks: „what is human, what is nature, is there something or someone "higher", what is innocence and what devotion”, while the cinematography completes the vision with breathtaking images.

„Passion is the friction between one's soul and the outside world.“
(Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy as Stalker)

Mr. Tarkovsky opened our eyes and minds for the beauty of art house pictures more than we could have imagined and in the meantime we have been discovering many more directors that meet our taste, Mikhail Kalatozov, Larisa Shepitko, the great Elem Klimov or Alexandr Sokurov are only a few names from Russia, but Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa and Masaki Kobayashi impressed us no less. But what is it, that we are so enchanted by these exceptional directors and their work? Well, first of all it’s the immense power of their pictures, they all got in common that their camera work belongs to the finest ones you can imagine, we love cinematography and we love long takes and these directors created images for eternities, either black and white or in color, either with very wide shots or close ups, either with smooth and calm shots or with high tempo shots or either natural lighting or with artificial lighting - they just managed to surprise us again and again and it all started for us with Andrei Tarkovsky.

The film Stalker is slow but has honestly the exact right pacing to draw you into the world and create the right mindset for the experience. The decision to let the characters be silent for a few minutes now and then, just increases the feeling for the atmosphere and the maelstrom that carries you away into thinking about layers of meaning and acknowledging the beauty. Astonishing composed shots and a lingering camera take the necessary time and develop a hypnotic pull, at least for us, as so so much is seemingly easily flowing over the screen and escaping the lips of the characters yet appearing to be impossible to write about unless you want to start a thick book. Andrei Tarkovsky is the master of visual style and in our eyes no one else can create so much beauty in decay, the movie's texture is distinctive and the topics of his pictures alone can be interpreted in thousands of pages; the naturalistic look of his settings with all the water, dust, mud and rust is a recurring stylistic method with his very own handwriting. For us he will always be the director that opened the door to a whole new movie world and there are no better words to describe Tarkovsky’s work and his status in the international film industry, as the ones of the great Ingmar Bergman:

„Tarkovsky is for me the greatest, the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.“

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