This is not your average SF film. The pace is extremely slow, and there are very few SFX. Centering around a more philosophical core than a scientific one, the film is poetic and filled with atmospheric imagary. There's a genuine sense of otherworldlyness here, partly due to the clever imagary, but also due to the superb unnatural use of natural sound. Everyday noises start to become hints of a threat, and mechanised noises the norm.
The disks are superb. As with previous Tarkovsky releases, these seem to be identical to the excellent Ruscico disks, and present the film in a crisp print - also in it's original (full screen) ratio. Extras include a short extract of Tarkovsky's diploma film, interviews with people who worked on the (troubled) production, a tour around Tarkovsky's house in the style of the film and biographies. Not huge amounts, but what is provided is of extremely high quality. Even the menus are superb.
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.
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