Stalker – Art at its purest form.   Leave a comment

“Touched by a masterpiece, a person begins to hear in himself that same call of truth which prompted the artist to his creative act. When a link is established between the work and its beholder, the latter experiences a sublime, purging trauma. Within that aura which unites masterpieces and audience, the best sides of our souls are made known, and we long for them to be freed. In those moments we recognize and discover ourselves, the unfathomable depths of our own potential, and the furthest reaches of our emotions.”  This is exactly what happened to me when I really made an attempt to understand Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’.

Stalker was second movie of tarkovsky that I watched and without any doubt I can say that it completely changed my outlook towards life. It really opens you up in understanding something extraordinary, ploughs & harrows your soul, makes you think and ponder on deeper humane issues.

Stalker (1979), Runtime: 161 mins

Cast: Aleksandr Kajdanovsky, Alisa Freindlikh, Anatoli Solonitsyn, Nikolai Grinko.

Stalker is a Russian sci-fi film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, it’s about a man’s journey into deepest, darkest corners of his own subconscious. Stalker is one who guides his clients through an area called “the Zone”. It is believed that in ‘the zone’ one’s innermost desires will be fulfilled. Professor and writer are his clients, writer is searching for inspiration, professor wants to realize truth and stalker himself is on an eternal quest for faith.

Stalker is quite impossible to put to words, every time you see the movie you will come up with different observations which may be contradicting, but Tarkovsky himself stated that children understood his films better than adults.

Andrei Tarkovsky on Stalker (excerpts from his own book Sculpting In Time)

What, then, is the main theme that had to sound through Stalker? In the most general terms, it is the theme of human dignity; and of how a man suffers if he has no self-respect. The Stalker seems to be weak, but essentially it is he who is invincible because of his faith and his will to serve others.

Let me remind the reader that when the characters in the film set out on their journey into the Zone, their destination is a certain room in which, we are told, everybody’s most secret wish will be granted. And while the Writer and the Scientist, led by Stalker, are making their hazardous way over the strange expanse of the Zone, their guide tells them at one point either a true story, or else a legend, about another Stalker, nicknamed Diko-óbraz. He had gone to the secret place in order to ask for his brother, who had been killed through his fault, to be brought back to life. When Diko-óbraz returned home, however, he discovered that he had become fabulously wealthy. The Zone had granted what was in reality his most heartfelt desire, and not the wish that he had wanted to convince himself was most precious to him. And Diko-óbraz had hanged himself.

And so the two men reach their objective. They have been through a great deal, thought about themselves, reassessed themselves; and they haven’t the courage to step across the threshold into the room which they have risked their lives to reach. They have become conscious that at the tragic, deepest level of awareness they are imperfect. They had summoned the strength to look into themselves—and had been horrified; but in the end they lack the spiritual courage to believe in themselves.

The arrival of Stalker’s wife in the cafe where they are resting confronts the Writer and the Scientist with a puzzling, to them incomprehensible, phenomenon. There before them is a woman who has been through untold miseries because of her husband, and has had a sick child by him; but she continues to love him with the same selfless, unthinking devotion as in her youth. Her love and her devotion are that final miracle which can be set against the unbelief, cynicism, moral vacuum poisoning the modern world, of which both the Writer and the Scientist are victims.

In Stalker I make some sort of complete statement: namely that human love alone is—miraculously— proof against the blunt assertion that there is no hope for the world. This is our common, and incontrovertibly positive possession. Although we no longer quite know how to love…

The Writer in Stalker reflects on the frustration of living in a world of necessities, where even chance is the result of some necessity which for the moment remains beyond our ken. Perhaps the Writer sets out for the Zone in order to encounter the Unknown, in order to be astonished and startled by it. In the end, however, it is simply a woman who startles him by her faithfulness and by the strength of her human dignity. Is everything subject to logic, then, and can it all be separated into its components and tabulated?

In this film I wanted to mark out that essentially human thing that cannot be dissolved or broken down, that forms like a crystal in the soul of each of us and constitutes its great worth. And even though outwardly their journey seems to end in fiasco, in fact each of the protagonists acquires something of inestimable value: faith. He becomes aware in himself of what is most important of all; and that most important thing is alive in every person.

Stalkers wife monologue: It all boils down to this scene which truly is the essence of the movie and that is “In the end everything can be reduced to the one simple element which is all a person can count upon in his existence: the capacity to love.”

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