It is a terrible shame that Andrei Tarkovsky died of lung cancer at 56 (in 1986) because he surely would have made more magnificent films (beyond the seven features he did make, including Solaris, The Mirror, and Andrei Rublev). Stalker is a great example - mysterious, portentous, spiritual, yet somehow linked to a generic form (sci-fi) that allows viewers entry into his world. However, this is not an effects-laden picture but instead Tarkovsky works with his low budget to make simple actions carry great weight; we are basically treated only to three individuals (the Writer, the Professor, and the Stalker) crossing through The Zone, an overgrown meadow filled with decaying structures, fetid water, and apparently a lot of invisible traps and an ever-changing force that chooses who will live and who will die. At the center of The Zone is a room that, when reached, allows a person to have their innermost wish granted. So, Tarkovsky has created the opportunity for himself to question, philosophically, the goals of art, science, and then faith -- represented by The Stalker who sees a need for the room, as a way to generate hope (it seems). Of course, Tarkovsky was a famous Christian, not well appreciated by the Soviet authorities, and eventually he defected to the West and made his final films there. His films are famous for showing all four elements (earth, air, fire, and water) in a single shot and the screen in Stalker has an incredible tactile quality that is aided by sepia tones outside The Zone and lush greens and spoiled browns inside The Zone. In the end, there are no answers provided by the film or by Tarkvosky - his films succeed because they are open to interpretation and because they often remain inscrutable, even after numerous viewings. As such, this is a journey I'm happy to take more than once, even though my quest may ultimately be quixotic (although Kierkegaard thinks not).