Stalker ★★★★★

Сталкер (Stalker) is probably Andrei Tarkovsky’s most popular work. More accessible than Зеркало (1975) but more abstract than Иваново детство (1962).

Сталкер explores themes of faith, meaning, art, and the relation between people. With Сталкер, Tarkovsky makes what’s essentially a science fiction film, but Сталкер is more than that. Сталкер is an existential piece of art. 

Сталкер is a meditative experience. Long sequences, monologues, ambient sounds, and music... sequences of dreams and memories gliding slowly through time. 

In Сталкер nature has become foreign territory. Humans have separated themselves from the chaotic and organic nature, in favor of a controlled environment, rendering nature an unfamiliar element.

“Weakness is everything, and strength is nothing. When a man is just born, he is weak and flexible. When he dies, he is hard and insensitive. When a tree is growing, it's tender and pliant. But when it's dry and hard, it dies. Hardness and strength are death's companions. Pliancy and weakness are expressions of the freshness of being. Because what has hardened will never win.” 

In the way, we as humans have alienated ourselves from nature, we have succeeded in creating a system that favors that of the hard and dry. 

The Zone comes to represent a higher power, a power that can grant you your highest of wishes. Nobody, except Stalker, believes in the higher power. Tarkovsky criticizing the lack of spirituality in humanity.

“Nothing evil was lost,
Nothing good was in vain,
All ablaze with clear light
But there has to be more.
Life gathered me up
Safe under its wing,
My luck always held,
But there has to be more.
Not a leaf was burnt up
Not a twig ever snapped…
Clean as glass is the day,
But there has to be more.”
— Arseny Tarkovsky

Real names are not present in Сталкер. Writer is a writer, Scientist is a scientist and Stalker is a stalker. Doing this, the characters are defined by what they are, not who they are.

Сталкер is also a reflection on art and for Tarkovsky, his own art. Why create art, for whom and how will your art be received?... Will you be consumed by your audience?

“Mankind exists in order to create art. Unlike all other human activities, this one is unselfish”

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