Stretching to two DVDs, 'Stalker' is a 155-minute film that feels even longer. Full of meaningful silences, existential discourses and lingering shots of landscapes and faces, this is not a film for action fans. Unlike that other great sci-fi film of 1979, 'Alien', there are no special effects of any kind and I suspect that most people will find 'Stalker' boring.
I must confess that my attention wandered at times, as the three main characters made such painfully slow progress towards their goal. However, after watching 'Stalker' I couldn't get it out of my mind and ended up having to see the whole thing again. Why? I think that 'Stalker', like many great works of art, takes time to reveal its secrets.
If Dostoevsky had been born a century later, I could imagine him making a film like 'Stalker'. This is not a sci-fi film, it's about the Russian soul and is as rewarding and frustrating as Dostoevsky's novels.
However, it is ultimately the cinematography which is the most powerful aspect of the film. The damp, lush, verdant landscape of the zone and the monochrome industrial dystopia of the town are some of the most haunting images I have ever seen.
If you prefer questions to answers, I recommend 'Stalker' without reservation.