I was recently watching one of THR’s Roundtables in which the host, Stephen Gallaway posed a very interesting question. He asked ‘If you had the chance of preserving one movie before the apocalypse, which would it be?’ I am affirmative that I would reply Andrei Tarvosky’s Stalker. It is a fantasy movie made for the people who hate fantasy movies.
One of the very few job requirements a film critic is supposed to have by default is an ebullient attitude towards movies with slow-pacing, and most of the times, it rules me out. Stalker begins on a sombre note with snail-aced long takes. But for some reason, the atmosphere of Stalker with its enigmatic music and color composition had me already spell-binded. Later, I read that I wasn’t the only one one had encountered with this quandary. Many suggested had suggested to Tarvosky that the movie should be more dynamic in nature, to which he replied ‘The film needs to be slower and duller at the start so that the viewers who walked into the wrong theatre have time to leave before the main action starts.’
But once he overcomes that starting hiccup, Tarvosky rewards his viewer with an unforgettable spectacle of visual poetry set into motion. The plot is centered around a Stalker who leads a professor and a writer through The Zone, a mysterious restricted piece of land which holds a room which is said to fulfill the innermost desires of any man who enters it. The structure of this so-called Zone deserves a movie of its own, for the roots of its existence are ground so deep in the waters of surrealism that it would put Salvador Dali to shame.
The movie more than often reminded me of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now which couldn’t care less about the journey which its characters undertake. Instead, it works as an anatomy of the innermost desires of its characters, revealing to us their cherished beliefs and their exploration of the meaning of life. The movie is filled to the brim with intriguing philosophical conversations which seem to give equal importance to both ends of the spectrum, acting as a catharsis for these characters, all of whom seem to be leading extremely wretched lives.
The movie questions the very nature of the existence of such a Zone and its usefulness. It forces us to introspect and delve deep within ourselves and examine our very own innermost desires. In my personal experience, it resulted in a startling revelation of what I considered myself to be and what I am as a person.
Stalker is an enigmatic and surprisingly moving motion picture which will forever remain one of cinema’s most treasured gems. They don’t make them like this anymore.
RATING :- 9.5 / 10
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