47 FILMS: 22. STALKER
In our continuing series of ’47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams’ we look at Andrei Tarkovsky’s slapstick comedy Stalker.
A meteorite has hit the Earth creating a Zone in which there is a Room in which your deepest wish may or may not come true. Two men – a writer and a scientist – are guided by a ‘Stalker’ through the dangers of the Zone, which may or may not exist, via a series of game like rituals which may or may not help. And it might all be inside the head of a little girl, the Stalker’s daughter, called ‘Monkey’. Or not.
Tarkovsky is probably most familiar to Western audience as the guy who made that film with George Clooney set in space, but before that he made some interesting films in Russian! Don’t let that scare you. Well, actually do. Tarkovsky didn’t give a shit. Working in Soviet Russia, his films were challenging, critical pieces of work – Ivan’s Childhood is a wonderful anti-war film, Andrei Rublev, his masterpiece, is about a fifteenth century Russian icon painter struggling with his faith and the brutality of the times (made in the USSR at the height of the Cold War remember). He actually wanted people to leave his film and when criticized by one apparatchik about being elitist told him there were only two people he wanted to please in the audience: himself and Ingmar Bergman. Take that, Proletariat Art!
Anyway, back to the Room in the Zone. Or maybe not. The whole point of the Room in the Zone is you can’t approach it directly and although it is supposed to be everything you always wanted, the ultimate McGuffin, the sad fact of the matter is perhaps we don’t really want everything we always wanted. Perhaps everything we always wanted is the last thing we want. Maybe it would be better if we just take naps in puddles and continue with the silly games which might or might not keep us safe.
Tarkovsky’s film is a darkly funny, brilliantly strange film which stupid people will find boring and other people (us, dear readers, us) will find so fascinating there’s a danger it’ll change your life. If that’s what you want.
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