My 7 Dinners With Andrei #5: Stalker

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An ever shifting axis.
Stalker’s reputation as the film that killed the director, the star, and their wives during the production thanks to filming near a chemical plant that was dumping pollutants into the nearby water sources is very easy to believe once you see the visuals. The characters live in a colorless world that is as disgusting and muddy as anything ever filmed. Props deserve to be given for making the cast look like they had been living their whole lives in dirt and grime. Things get incredibly unsettling at the twelve minute mark, when a crying wife proceeds to have a strange sort of spasm to classical music. Then they become boring, when a burst of gunfire at the half hour mark is the starting point for any action within this drawn out, sleepy, drained out world. We are getting fully immersed in the same way as the long, tedious scenes at the beginning of Solaris, but here, the rules are not totally explained, it is simply accepted that there is a Writer, a Professor, a Stalker, a Zone. And that last item is a quick little downer, for the most beautiful place imaginable both has color and does not involve constant industrial waste littered everywhere. A tunnel that is roaring with a waterfall, jokingly called the dry tunnel, is particularly poignant: the source of all life is what killed Tarkovsky. Another river practically resembles the Styx in all the debris that we catch glimpses of. What broken dreams did these desperate men cling to in their quest to find true happiness? The ones our threesome have feel so stupid, but they also seem to know it deep down, just as they know the real origins of that black dog that keeps following them around once they have arrived in the field from hell. And the ending is a different kind of spooky, with that fourth wall breaking monologue feeling like a beautiful lie, particularly thanks to it being followed by Monkey either exhibiting a great power that could have terrifying and unprecedented consequences or the trains being so dominant that there is no hope of escaping their reach. Be careful what you wish for indeed, but if I were to enter this place, my conscious and unconscious wish alike would be to see this properly on a big screen even if it would likely be twisted to make me go blind and deaf, only seeing this majestic work in a gorgeous loop.

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