Stalker moves cautiously and slowly through as the three men move closer to the metaphorical heart of the Zone. Stalker is filled with powerful images that include telephone poles that look as if they are coming out of the ground like crosses, religious icons beneath muddy rivers covered with bullet shells, and most famously a miraculous, artificial desert in an underground room. It is almost entirely shot in extremely long takes where the three characters mostly just talk. It's almost hard to believe a movie can have only 142 shots in 163 minutes with most of them averaging about 1 minute and some lasting more than 4 minutes. But even though it is mainly just these three men talking, the imagery is amazing to look at and the cinematography is fantastic. The way it uses two different looks through out is something I hadn't seen before, at least not like this. Almost all the shots that take place outside the Zone are in a high contrast brown monochrome (sepia) tone and all the shots within the Zone are in color. Everything is in sepia color until around the 37th minute where when they enter the Zone it switches to color. Stalker is also great for not relying on any kind of gimmick or special effect to create its fantastic atmosphere of another world bordering our own.
Like all of Tarkovsky's films Stalker is very slow paced. Arguably the most slow paced of all his films and slower than even Kubrick's space epic 2001: A Space Odyssey. I highly suggest having patience with this film and watching it at least two times. You will definitely gain a lot more on the second viewing. It is a great film about keeping faith that is filled with many images that are as stunning as some of the best work by Kubrick or Bergman. One of the greatest films ever made. 10/10
Superb, profound, thought-provoking movie by famed Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky. If ever you needed an example of how cinema is more than simply entertainment but is art, holding the mirror up to nature, this is it.
The movie starts as a science-fiction adventure, and a very intriguing and engaging one. While Tarkovsky develops the plot slowly, it is never dull. In fact, the slowness ramps up the suspense. It also gives you time to admire Tarkovsky's excellent camera work. Every shot is perfectly chosen and captured, resulting in the movie seeming more like a series of paintings than a film. This, despite the simple, basic production quality and the dearth of remastered copies (the version I watched was in 240p!).
As the movie progresses it moves from being plot-driven to something much more metaphoric and ends up covering a multitude of macro-level societal issues.
Most prominent, and important, is a debate around science vs art vs religion, each represented by the three protagonists. Tarkovsky doesn't take sides, but gives every faction a chance to state their case. What you end up with is a reasonable explanation for each side's value in society, and why there is friction between the three.
This all said, the initial instinct with this movie may be one of disappointment. There is no great resolution in the end, either to the mysteries of the Zone or the debates between the three lead characters. For those expecting closure and a neat tying up of the plot, this is likely to be a let-down.
However, if you think about it, this is perfect. Tarkovsky retains his neutral stance and leaves it to the viewer to think things through. More than anything, he is not providing solutions, or a "winner", but making you think about the issues, and life in general.
The strength of the film isn't the look & feel of the Zone but it's the psychological journey the guests & Stalker go on.
Filled with terrific visuals this truly is a unique vision & incredibly thought provoking. There is a lot in this film & it requires multiple viewings.
Stalker is about a place that exists outside of the real world, both literally when talking about the Zone in the film, but also in the sense that real truth is something that seems endlessly out of reach. The film is more of a meditation on that theme than anything else, and it's pacing and sound design lend to that meditation extremely well.