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102 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lingers in the Mind - Unforgettable
As already mentioned, this film is slow-paced and lacks amazing special effects, but give it your full attention and you will be rewarded by a technically brilliant shot film that cuts deep into the human psyche in a manner few hollywood films have ever managed to do. Images from the film linger on in the mind and stay with you for a life time. Shot using what must have...
Published on 1 Feb 2003

versus
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time
Watching Tarkovsky's Stalker was not an enjoyable experience, but it did make something about his achievement much clearer to me. In this film, and in most of his work that I have seen, Tarkovsky tells the viewer nothing: no plot, no characters, no resolution. He sets up an ambience through beautifully textured photography and lighting, stunning command of soundscapes,...
Published on 26 Oct 2008 by Phillip Kay


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102 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lingers in the Mind - Unforgettable, 1 Feb 2003
By A Customer
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This review is from: Stalker [DVD] (DVD)
As already mentioned, this film is slow-paced and lacks amazing special effects, but give it your full attention and you will be rewarded by a technically brilliant shot film that cuts deep into the human psyche in a manner few hollywood films have ever managed to do. Images from the film linger on in the mind and stay with you for a life time. Shot using what must have been a very low budget, the film manages successfully to create an incredibly strange, alien/haunting sci-fi environment. It is very well acted and profound in ways I can't even begin to describe.On the other hand my wife thought it was boring, hated reading the sub-titles and didn't think there was a great deal of plot complaining that nothing really happens in the film and gave up half way through, citing Stalker as another of my 'weird choice of films'.If only I could get her to persevere I'm sure she'd see why I like the film so much...but alas. The funny thing is, I can easily identify and see where she is coming from but for me I found the film one of the most haunting, sub-concious penetrating, unforgettable films I have ever seen. Sorry to sound pretentious but this film is worth seeing and truly memorable - and whether in the end you like the film or not the film's tone and images will stay with you forever.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, 12 Nov 2004
By 
The Man from the Ministry (Sussex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stalker [DVD] (DVD)
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.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'The Greatest Science Fiction Film of All Time', 10 Jan 2001
By 
Paracelsus1966 (Somerset, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stalker [VHS] [1979] (VHS Tape)
Tarvkovsky's second venture into SF (the first being his 1972 adaptation of Stanislav Lem's Solaris) has been described as 'the greatest sf movie of all time', yet this is as about as far removed from what we normally think of as SF as possible, as it ushers in Tarkovsky's late period, (an awesome tryptich that also includes Nostalgia and The Sacrifice), whose films are given over to more philosophical, unviersal themes, perhaps, than his earlier work.
In a grimy future world, a writer and a scientist are led into the Zone, an mysterious area sealed off by the authorities, by the stalker of the title. They have heard that the Zone contains a room where wishes can come true. Over the course of their journey, the three men bicker incessantly, each revealing their reasons for wanting to enter the Wishing Room (one of the film's working titles had been The Wish Machine).
The film, like all of Tarkovsky, is slow (nearly three hours), but the climax at the room is one of his greatest achievements, and the stalker's wife's speech is almost manifesto-like in its admission that without sadness life would be worse, because 'then there would be no happiness either.' This is Tarkovsky meditating on faith and miracles, and their seeming absence from the modern world.
Shot over two years in extremely difficult circumstances (the lab ruined the footage and the entire film had to be reshot, during which Tarkovsky had a heart attack; he became ill again during post-production and thought he was going to die), Stalker was first shown in the West at Cannes in 1980, where one critic commented that, with Stalker, Tarkovsky was 'throwing down the gauntlet' to other filmmakers. It remains one of the most staggering achievements in cinema.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece., 25 April 2002
By 
Mr. Paul S. Bird "dagadadagada" (Aylesbury) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stalker [DVD] (DVD)
A Stalker leads two men, a professor and a writer, into The Zone - A decayed landscape where a meteor may once have crashed. Slowly they make their way to a room where your innermost wish will be granted, all the time haunted by an unseen and unknown threat.
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.
Highly recommended.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most Engaging Film I Ever Watched., 17 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Stalker [VHS] [1979] (VHS Tape)
I Saw the movie in our national television in Turkey. It was 3 o`clock after midnight i was sleepless i gave it a shot. Since then i got hooked to that film i didn`t sleep that night but who cares i had the opportunity to watch maybe the best cinematic event of all time. The plot is excellent you get it right in the beginning, what life is to one? what do we live for? Stalker`s daughter`s face, the train`s noise outside, wife`s crying, the conversation between the director and his girlfriend, the cannabis field scene where stalker gets totally lost. It all may seem bizarre but in its own content it is as good as reading a Kafka book if not better.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic journey into the interior, 30 Jan 2013
By 
technoguy "jack" (Rugby) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stalker [DVD] (DVD)
Stalker by Tarkovsky is his 2nd incursion into SF following Solaris.There the inability to communicate with the alien force which had drastic effects upon the astronauts' subconscious was transfiguring.Here following the crash of a meteorite or alien craft 20 years before,the landscape has been altered so that the Zone doesn't obey the physical laws of the Earth,matter is warped in mysterious and dangerous ways.The Stalker is the guide of people wishing to enter the Zone,surrounded as it is by soldiers and barbed wire.The mysterious foreign entity left behind industrial debris in this bleak and devastated forbidden landscape,where people are supposed to disappear. Stalkers are adventurous individuals who, for a proper payment, lead people to the Zone and to the mysterious Room at the heart of the Zone where your deepest wishes are allegedly granted. The film tells the story of one such Stalker, an ordinary man with a wife and a crippled daughter with the magic capacity of moving objects, who takes to the Zone two intellectuals, a Writer and a Scientist. When they finally reach the Room, they fail to pronounce their wishes because of their lack of faith, while Stalker himself seems to receive an answer to his wish that his daughter would get better.

The journey is hazardous and Stalker is one of the few able to navigate.The subconscious sets up its own barriers and blocks to going straight to the Room.Tarkovsky has emptied the source novel,Roadside Picnic,of the abandoned technology of advanced aliens in the context of a fascistic state(the aliens,indifferent to the Earth,have left behind 7 Zones on the planet).He has placed into the centre of his film Man's spiritual quest,Man's dreams and desires.The film is a journey through the traps and pitfalls of the Zone.The Writer(Solinitsyn)searches for inspiration,the Scientist(Grinko) searches for truth.The Stalker has been trained by a renowned stalker named Porcupine, who, after an excursion with his brother into The Zone, returned alone and infinitely wealthy, only to commit suicide a week later. Soon, it is evident that reaching The Zone is not their greatest impediment, but the uncertainty over their deepest wish. As the men approach the threshold to The Room, their fear and trepidation for the materialization of their answered prayers leads to profound revelation and self-discovery.

This film is a masterpiece.The language of the Zone is the language of life.Tarkovsky uses chromatic shifts to delineate between the outside world and the Zone,physical reality from the subconscious.He utilises breath-taking long takes,mesmerising images and sounds, moments of surprise like the dog that crosses their path or the birds that fly up over the sand-dunes in the antechamber,the shaking ground.As Tarkovsky said,if you held a shot"a new quality emerges,a special intensity of attention."There was a lot of heart-break in the making of this film,the first year's filming went to waste as the film-stock was not developed and another film was reshot in another country.Chemical pollution upsteam led to early deaths for Tarkovsky and his wife and a leading actor.The film is full of pulsating rhythms,dialogues and monologues of the travellers.It evokes the disasters of Chernobyl andJapan with forbidden zones.It contains the essence of great film-making,meditations on the soul,breathing in a much larger world,containing many subjects in one.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Poetry In Film As Only Tarkovsky Could Do It, 8 Oct 2003
This review is from: Stalker [VHS] [1979] (VHS Tape)
A true masterpiece of cinema as directed by the late, great Andrei Tarkovsky, based on the Strugatsky brothers' classic 1972 sci-fi novel ROADSIDE PICNIC where enigmatic aliens have landed on Earth but left as quickly as they departed, leaving behind an enigmatic, highly dangerous place known as 'The Zone'. In many ways this film adaptation is different to the original style and setting of the novel but Tarkovsky than compensates by taking the vision of ROADSIDE PICNIC to even more extreme, mindbending heights in its depiction of a journey into a physically devastated twilight zone (no pun intended).
STALKER has the same style of direction as ROADSIDE PICNIC but there are numerous differences. Firstly, in the novel the 'stalker' does have a name (Redrick 'Red' Schuhart) and the environment that surrounds his life and that of The Zone is examined in detail. In the film, the stalker does not even have a name, he is simply referred to throughout the film as 'Stalker' (with the occasional referring to with nonsensical names like 'Chingachook', 'Big Snake' and 'Leather Stocking') and details surrounding his environment are virtually non-existent. Secondly, in the novel Red makes his forays into the Zone with the intention of scavaging the technological litter left there by the aliens, to sell on the black market. In the film, the Stalker takes a writer and professor (known as 'Writer' and 'Professor') on an unforgettable, hallucinatory journey into the Zone in search of a building known as 'The Room' which has the power to grant wishes to all those who enter it. Admittedly there is a similar kind of device in ROADSIDE PICNIC that grants wishes but this is a spherical object referred to as a Golden Ball, additionally the Golden Ball only becomes the object of focus towards the end of the novel. STALKER is concerned only with the quest to get to The Room. Thirdly, while both novel and film raise questions surrounding the meaning of human existence, there are differences of approach. Whereas Red, in the novel, seemed more concerned with questioning the meaning and worth of his own existence, the three characters in the film question life and philosophy in all aspects. Nothing is left unturned as all three characters discuss and dissect philosophy, concepts, art, science, lifestyles etc, in extreme detail. Fourthly, in the novel it is known that aliens had landed in the Zone and the Zone is discussed in detail with the hellish labyrinth of booby-traps that exist within it. In the film, no one really knows the origins of the Zone or whether aliens had even landed and disclosures of the Zone's secrets are kept to a minimum. The Zone is indeed secondary to that of the quest to reach The Room. Lastly (and perhaps most importantly) the sci-fi feel of the novel is obvious, in the film the sci-fi feel is conspicuously absent, to the point of non-existence, as it becomes instead an allegorical quest for redemption and salvation in a dislocated, nihilistic world.
STALKER is truly remarkable and stands out conspicuously as a landmark of cinematography. The breathtakingly beautiful use of color, sound, camera shots and lighting all combine to produce an an atmosphere of pure enigma in which the symbolic and philosophical conversion of the three characters takes on a new dimension, helped along by the eerie, electronic musical score from Eduard Artemyov. The images of the nearly totally devasted world that exists outside of the Zone reasonate with an apocalyptic beauty that predated the post-apocalyptic landscape of the landmark film BLADE RUNNER by three years and would indeed come true seven years later with the 1986 nuclear explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Poignantly, STALKER was indeed filmed partly in the immediate vicinity of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor and the reactor itself can clearly be seen in the beginning and ending shots of the film. The one image I shall never forget though is that of the dog that appears out of nowhere halfway through the film, to come and sit down by the Stalker as he rests. What is that supposed to signify? Is the dog the only living creature worthy of the Stalker's efforts?
Do not be put off by the philosophical conversations of the three characters and the slow pacing of the film. STALKER begs for close analysis of the human condition and is indeed more relevant than ever in the dehumanised, globalised world of today. View the film more than once and you will ultimately be rewarded.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best film I've ever seen, 22 Sep 2009
By 
S. Dodds - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stalker [DVD] (DVD)
I was not particularly a Tarkovsky fan before seeing this film but I endlessly search for 'proper' sci-fi, not the gormless trash that most hollywood studios churn out. The premise that you can never know or trust your innermost desire really hits home and those reviewers who have not grasped the premise of the film, and have seen it as a grim collection of sequential scenes merely miss the point. The dialogue is the strength of the film, not the visuals, and the cinematography, whilst very impressive, appears to be there just to emphasise the story. Not special effects, just cutting images of a desolate USSR, and the unending feeling of a great political threat hovering in the background. "you'll never work again" the scientist is told after revealing to his master(s) that he has reached the room. I loved the fact that no-one was named (apart from Monkey) and the impression that the Stalker had given in and revealed himself in the Zone (the child walking!). This is a great film, matching and probably surpassing 2001. If you want special effects watch Transformers or X-Men. If you want profound watch Stalker.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Long, Deep Journey, 8 July 2005
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This review is from: Stalker [DVD] (DVD)
I suspect the inspiration for this film's backdrop is the very real "Tunguska" event of 1908 where a whole section of the Siberian forest was obliterated, possibly by a meteor; an event which has spawned a plethora of otherworldly theories ever since.
The plot follows two men who pay someone known as a 'Stalker' (a strange word in this context - I don't know if its translation in Russian means exactly the same thing, his role is a guide) to take them out of the city and lead them through the cordoned-off zone into the forest. The reason they pay him to guide them there is because Stalkers know the location of an area within the Zone that once reached, will change their lives forever.
There is a convoluted ritual journey that has to be taken to get there, with rules that include not retracing one's steps, and the Stalker's bizarre bandage-throwing rituals.
The premise is so intriguing that I found myself hanging on through the film's slow pace and often inane conversations (some of which may of course be affected by the translation) with a great desire to see how the journey unfolded.
The cinematography is truly atmospheric; the scenes within the Zone are shot in colour, the minimalistic effects are appropriate, reserved for the Zone and as a result much more effective, and the musical score is genuinely haunting.
The overall atmosphere of the film is one of dereliction. The areas both within and outwith the Zone are dilapidated, dirty and ruinous and when watching it one finds oneself wanting to escape from it all as much as the protagonists.
I still found it impossible not to hold on to the end of the film and thought it ended really well. Although the Stalker's revealed identity didn't surprise me too much, how the journey concluded was less than expected.
Watching films like this is something that any of us conditioned by Hollywood's non-stop-action high-octane sci-fi output should really try and do more often. There is so much more to be had from watching a film like this than any of the 'disposable' big budget offerings, that it even inspired me to do such a rare thing as write a review.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visions of Faust in a post Chernobyl-like hell., 16 Aug 2005
This review is from: Stalker [DVD] (DVD)
Tarkovsky remains, without question, one of the ultimate masters of the cinematic medium; a creator of deeply felt poetic ruminations on life, love, art and the metaphysical equations that fall somewhere beyond our grasp. He is/was a cinematic genius to rival both Bergman and Kieslowski, and his best films, like Andrei Rublev, Mirror, Nostalgia and The Sacrifice, are masterworks, fit to be filed away in the vaults marked "absolute classic masterpieces: vol. 1". Although Stalker lacks the more enchanting or ethereal moments of those milestones, it still represents Takovsky's ability to construct a deep and enriching story that plays as much off character detail and cinematic design as it does from notions of philosophy and mystical excess. By this point in his career, Tarkovsky had already dabbled in the broader notions of science fiction cinema with Solyaris, a film that I have always seen as the director's great failure... because it showed Tarkovsky trying too hard to conform to the rigid restrictions of Lem's watershed tome, therefore, obliterating the deep, poetic ambience that his previous film (Rublev) and later works (Mirror, Nostalgia) would so effortlessly create.
To some extent, Stalker is more like his masterpiece Mirror than the cold sci-fi of Solyaris, as it employs a more elliptical narrative that at times fractures beyond the point of clarity. We also see the same focus on a varying ensemble of characters, metaphysical alienation, internal and external use of emotional monologues, and one of the most amazing uses of cinematography ever seen. Here, the camera inhabits a different world to the characters, and, like other Tarkovsky films, somehow becomes an equal explorer; slowly moving away from the action to examine the location, the mood, and the relevance of the moment. With Tarkovsky, the camera is always relevant to the feel of the film... this affects his use of movement, composition, colour and contrast. Here, black and white and defused colour are inter-cut, to differentiate the strange power of the zone (central to the plot) in comparison to the bleak, desolate despair of the "real-world". The opening sequences of the film set up an atmosphere of dense, post-apocalyptic industrial dejection that establishes the universe of the film better than any written exposition ever could... whilst the camera, with it's deep black and white austerity, explores the decaying city and charred human remains in the same way in which von Trier's camera would in the later, Tarkovsky-influenced, The Element of Crime.
Like that film, the plot here seems simple... however, if we scratch beneath the surface, we will find a multitude of hidden depths and sub-textual theories that branch off from that central narrative arc. In the film, the world has been ravaged by some terrible (nuclear?) atrocity that has left much of the country segregated. Because of a strong chance of infection, the fall-out area of this accident has been labelled "the zone" and is now heavily guarded by police and government officials. It is said that there is a sanctum hidden deep within the zone that was formed (perhaps) by mystical extraterrestrials (or whatever it was that caused such devastation) that will grant those brave enough to discover it their ultimate wish. This, of course, leads to curiosity, and those who desire entrance into the zone must seek the aid of the stalkers... men on the fringes of society, familiar with the workings of the zone, and courageous (or desperate?) enough to smuggle in "tourists" for a substantial fee. The stalker here is a classic Tarkovsky character - a world away from the typical hero (or anti-hero) that you would find in most sci-fi films - a man of great sadness and bouts of philosophical reflection who, when not risking his life by entering the zone, lives in a dilapidated shack with his dejected wife and psychic daughter.
As with much of Tarkovsky's work, the central concept of the film is more of an excuse for philosophical rambling and metaphorical dream-logic as opposed to the usual sci-fi hallmarks like explosions and cheep effects. Instead, he uses space and location in a way that is absolutely amazing, drawing on the idea of an architectural narrative as he would with Nostalgia, so that the approach to the lighting, cinematography and style of the performance is dictated by the design of the location. He also takes on Godard's approach to sci-fi from Alphaville, with the present day filling in for the not to distant future (though here we see a much more expressionistic approach that puts emotional texture above post-modernist style). His uses of location are amazing, and the influence of this technique can be seen on everyone from Spielberg, to Winterbottom, to the abovementioned von Trier... however, the texture that Tarkovsky creates just simply cannot be copied. In this film, we see the interplay between the poetic and the philosophical, with the conflict between the writer and the scientist germane to the plot, mirrored in the external conflict between the elements of the script (science versus religion, etc). It's intelligent stuff... and beautifully handled by the filmmakers.
One could argue that Stalker perhaps lacks the emotional transcendence of his previous Mirror, or the deft narrative layering of the later Nostalgia... though the initial combination of science-fiction theatricality with art-house sensibilities is never less than impressive. It also has one of the dirtiest and most oppressive visual designs that I have ever seen (more so than other dingy delights like Europa, Delicatessen and the films of David Fincher), which, suffice to say, fits the pacing of the film perfectly. It is true, I suppose, that some viewers may feel put off by the snail-like pace or the continual jumps in both narrative and character (something prevalent in all this filmmaker's works), but those who are willing to travel with the Stalker will no doubt discover the film's innumerable, magical and thought-provoking pleasures, hidden deep within the zone.
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