YI JIAN’s review published on Letterboxd:
No one simply wishes to be rich. We all want to be richer than others, or become the richest man in the world. Men are inherently selfish. We laugh at the people below us and we wish death upon anyone who's above us. Believe it or not, it's true for everyone. We are all great sufferers of the protagonist disease.
This is why when a room has the ability to fulfill our subconscious desires, it is seen as a danger rather than a blessing. No person should have this much power, plus it's impossible for someone to control his or her subconscious thoughts. A man entered the room with the wish of resurrecting his deceased brother but exited with a handful of cash. What if the same person secretly wanted the world to end? The outcome would be disastrous. Thus, it is locked away in "The Zone", littered with invisible traps, surrounded by barbed wires.
Andrei Tarkovsky visualized The Zone as a nuclear wasteland. Abandoned sewers, fields of moss, muddy lakes, zero signs of life (excluding plants and a random stray dog). Remember the worst toilet in Scotland from Trainspotting? You get the idea. In such a distressing location is where 90% of the film takes place. Three men ventured inside. A cynical writer who won't seem to stop yapping about "inspiration", a professor who values his backpack more than his life, and a stalker who acts as a smuggler. Like all Tarkovsky films, they discussed philosophy, life, and the meaning of it all. They talked about anything and everything. They recited poems, pondered mortality, and questioned faith. I'd say this film is meant to be listened than to be watched, if it wasn't for the glorious cinematography. Marvelous, marvelous, marvelous visuals. The ever-moving camera, flowing from scene to scene. The setting, a place so polluted the water actually looks cleaner with a layer of oil on it. Plants look like they do not belong to this planet. Yet, Tarkovsky captured everything so beautifully. I've never felt this comfortable being uncomfortable.
Just like Solyaris, the ending hits us like a baseball bat to the face. Everything we think we understand from the film shatters within a mere five minutes. And now, however exhausted I might be, I'll have to revisit The Zone again.
Part of Axel's project.