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125 - Stalker (1979) 
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Post 125 - Stalker (1979)
Yesterday I finally watched Stalker. Andrei Tarkovskys 163 minute Russian film that pairs in some ways with Solaris in that it's long, slow and supposedly science fiction. If ever a film was set to divide, this surely is it.

Years ago, a meteor landed in Russia. The authorities cordoned off the area which is now called "the zone". Myths and rumors abound with the strongest being that somewhere is a room where your dreams are answered. Getting into the zone is dangerous and Stalkers act as guides helping people try and reach the room.

The film follows two men and their Stalker on a journey.

I had mixed emotions going into this, as I'd heard many haters and lovers, yet I actually knew nothing more than what I outlined above. No spoilers from me here.

I'll get straight to the point and say that Stalker is pure cinema and one the very best film I have ever seen. A straight ten, which as far as I know has only happened 10-15 times before.

Understanding the film is difficult as it works on allegorical and conventional levels. I will nit say too much beyond the clear themes of faith, religion and self fulfillment.

The film is cinematographic maste class in its use of light, composition, lenses, depth of field and color. I cannot remember more mouth dropping setups in one film. This is not pretty photography though. The images are of extraordinary power.

The film will be criticized as slo by some. However, it has rhythm that whilst slow is consistent and important to the feeling of the film. It's a huge part of the experience. Watch how the camera glidesand takes it's time. No rapid cutting here.

I just loved this movie and am dying to here from others. Do make sure you're ready. This is not a casual viewing.
Rob


Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:48 am
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Post Re: 125 - Stalker (1979)
I don't like Tarkovsky in general. Most of his work seems highly derivative from Antonioni - Bresson, a touch of Bergman school of film. Check out a long shot of forest in The Mirror vs. park shots in Blowup. I like Andrei Rublev and am bored by Solaris, Nostalghia and The Sacrifice (Offret). I really hated The Mirror, although it's time to revisit, maybe, as I saw all of these in mid-to-late-eighties.

I, however, love Stalker. It does not look like any other director's work, has great story, philosophical issues etc. The book by Strugatsky brothers was also great, by the way, but the film is gloomier and artsier. I think that this film is a bit underwhelming for me to be a 10, but it's certainly close.


Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:51 am
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Post Re: 125 - Stalker (1979)
Freedom_Fryer wrote:
I don't like Tarkovsky in general. Most of his work seems highly derivative from Antonioni - Bresson, a touch of Bergman school of film. Check out a long shot of forest in The Mirror vs. park shots in Blowup. I like Andrei Rublev and am bored by Solaris, Nostalghia and The Sacrifice (Offret). I really hated The Mirror, although it's time to revisit, maybe, as I saw all of these in mid-to-late-eighties.

I, however, love Stalker. It does not look like any other director's work, has great story, philosophical issues etc. The book by Strugatsky brothers was also great, by the way, but the film is gloomier and artsier. I think that this film is a bit underwhelming for me to be a 10, but it's certainly close.



I cannot get the movie out of my head, it's movies like this that make it all worthwhile.
What a huge surprise and a great discovery.
I'll be revisiting within 12 months

I have not seen Solaris for 20 years and remember being underwhelmed. I was also less that excited by Andree Rublev (7) and the Mirror (6)

It would have been easy to overlook this film as well.

Rob


Fri Apr 15, 2011 4:08 am
Post Re: 125 - Stalker (1979)
For me, Stalker is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum for Tarkovsky movies. I didn't find it the same engrossing, hypnotic experience as watching Solaris, but it also wasn't as glacial and impenetrable as Nostalghia. The end result, while still impressive, didn't feel like it lived up to its excellent premise.

It's been a few years since I saw it, though - I suspect it could be one that grows on rewatching.


Fri Apr 15, 2011 4:14 am
Post Re: 125 - Stalker (1979)
domani wrote:
For me, Stalker is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum for Tarkovsky movies. I didn't find it the same engrossing, hypnotic experience as watching Solaris, but it also wasn't as glacial and impenetrable as Nostalghia. The end result, while still impressive, didn't feel like it lived up to its excellent premise.

It's been a few years since I saw it, though - I suspect it could be one that grows on rewatching.



Domani

I approached it with trepidation and no great expectations.
The interesting thing for me was how the film sets your mind racing with its symbolism and allegorical nature.
the cinematography is simply inspired, but not in a grand vista, greta beauty style.

Curious to see what you think if you venture once more into the Zone

Rob


Fri Apr 15, 2011 11:04 am
Post Re: 125 - Stalker (1979)
Sorry Rob, I hate this movie. Starts off great, with an interesting premise, and then goes nowhere. I think I got to the part where the guy is talking on the phone, telling some guy he slept with his wife when I said "screw this." I finished the film, but it was painful. Then I tried watching Solaris, shut it off 5 minutes in when I realized it was just going to be the same thing. To me, the film is like a 3 hour empty void. Personally, I dislike that whole generation of European filmmakers. I find Aguirre, Wrath of God to be boring and hollow. Fassbinder's Maria Braun, the same. His Berlin Alexanderplatz starts out strong, but the last several episodes are unwatchable. I do, however, appreciate Bela Tarr, the Hungarian director of Werckmeister Harmonies. I enjoyed counting the shots in that film, and it had much to offer visually and thematically (apocalypse stuff).


Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:49 pm
Post Re: 125 - Stalker (1979)
MGamesCook wrote:
Sorry Rob, I hate this movie. Starts off great, with an interesting premise, and then goes nowhere. I think I got to the part where the guy is talking on the phone, telling some guy he slept with his wife when I said "screw this." I finished the film, but it was painful. Then I tried watching Solaris, shut it off 5 minutes in when I realized it was just going to be the same thing. To me, the film is like a 3 hour empty void. Personally, I dislike that whole generation of European filmmakers. I find Aguirre, Wrath of God to be boring and hollow. Fassbinder's Maria Braun, the same. His Berlin Alexanderplatz starts out strong, but the last several episodes are unwatchable. I do, however, appreciate Bela Tarr, the Hungarian director of Werckmeister Harmonies. I enjoyed counting the shots in that film, and it had much to offer visually and thematically (apocalypse stuff).



I see where you're coming from. As I said, Stalker, will divide opinion and I totally get your position.
If you don't like Aguirre, I'm surprised as it's easy going versus Stalker.

One of the reasons we split the great movies top 100 into three groups getting steadily more difficult to watch, was exactly this. I would not recommend Stalker to many people.

Rob


Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:32 pm
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