Saturday, 1 December 2012

Stalker [1979]

Tarkovsky had used the sci-fi framework in his haunting masterpiece Solaris. In Stalker he again took that route, albeit in an allegorical sense, and the end result was just as mesmerizing and philosophical, as he delved into the dark chasms of the subconscious, and tellingly commentated on man’s never-ending quest for the Holy Grail called happiness. The deeply spiritual film chronicled the arduous odessey of three men – the cynical Writer (Anatoliy Solonitsyn), the contrite Scientist (Nikolai Grinko), and their guide, the Stalker (Alexander Kaidanovsky), who is blinded by faith – to a forbidden place called the Zone which allegedly has the ability to fulfill one’s deepest desires. Escaping the military patrols while entering the place turned out to be cakewalk vis-à-vis navigating the incredibly treacherous region designed to lead men to their doom. And their basest and most innate desires and fears face revelations to their own conscious selves when they reach the Room, the Zone’s core. The movie is heavy on dialogues, comprises of long moments of silence – particularly during the nerve-racking depiction of their physiologically and psychologically perilous journey, is laden with metaphors and symbolisms, and is devoid of any easy answers. Yet, despite its slow pace and complex nature, the film’s magnetic power is undeniable. Tarkovsky made brilliant use of palettes to complement the film’s tone and mood – it begun in bleak monochromes to portray the dank and desolate industrial wasteland, aptly shifted to dazzling colours in the Zone, and then reverted upon their return, thus depicting both the futility of their journey, the inescapability of their present and the grimy void in which they exist.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Genre: Sci-Fi/Psychological Drama
Language: Russian
Country: Russia (erstwhile Soviet Union)

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