This is evidently not my first time watching Stalker, but it sure is my first time watching it in HD. Phew, finally.
Sometimes we want to cut right to the chase in our pursuit for happiness. The quicker we get there, the quicker we’re satisfied. Yet, director Andrei Tarkovsky doesn’t believe that these aspirations are very practical. In reality, we must loop through various, unpredictable pathways to productively reach an entrance that’ll grant access to our deepest desires if we choose to cross it, just as Stalker illustrates with the construct of The Zone. But, end goals may sometimes supervene into our lives in ways we couldn’t predict, ways that would actually sabotage ourselves more than appease us. Maybe, we’re better off not knowing what we objectively want the most in life. It seems as if the only place of instantaneous satisfaction that exists in our world really is just “hope.” Never being able to possess our greatest desire can often be used as the universe’s psychological weapon against us, yet, it can additionally function as our source for faith.
My secondary interpretation of Stalker goes on a bit of a limb, but it’s in my head so why not discuss it anyways? To me, The Stalker likely represents the type of person who is certain that he knows the definitive truth of how the world operates—and he converts others with his belief to validate it. The Writer and The Professor represent pessimists—the kind of victims The Stalker did not anticipate. The Writer more specifically, represents a sort of agnostic who believes set-and-stone answers can never be proven, and The Professor represents an individual who is bound by science. This is why towards the end of the movie, they both seem so desperate to dismiss/destroy the supernatural existence of The Zone—which is an area that defies all science while insinuating definitive answers. In many ways, one could look at The Zone as a God-like figure.
In other words, the movie is a mocking commentary on the three common categories of beliefs: the religiously devout, the scientific theorist, and the inconvincible dweller.
You could name drop the technical perfections of Stalker, like how distinguishable the set design is, or how important Alexsandr Knyazhinskiy’s surrealist nature-like cinematography is, which additionally uses unforgettable golden and multi-colored filters to separate the two worlds that the film is set in. There’s just too much good in Stalker to not give it a perfect score. At this point, me saying, “it’s another masterpiece by Tarkovsky” is going to become a running gag eventually.
Verdict Change: A- —> A+
“Stalker” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.