Three men leave the confines of a rotting Eastern European city and walk through a pleasant-looking rural setting. Their destination is a room which sits at the center of this countryside, a room in which dreams are rumored to be fulfilled. This strange landscape is the Zone, the site of a metaphysical trauma around which armed guards patrol. Twenty years ago, an object thought to be a meteorite crashed here, and countless people went missing in the vicinity. The Zone was cordoned off, and is now protected with such zealotry that people are shot down rather than be permitted to slip into it. Despite looking benign, even cheerful (next to the grim realities of the city), the Zone is said to be protected by obscure traps, all but unpredictable dangers which have destroyed careless questers for years. As a result of this situation, a new profession has arisen, that of the Stalkers. Part tour guide, part coyote, part spiritual advisor, these people bring their customers into and through the beautiful, perilous Zone, offering counsel on what might be accomplished in the wish-granting room all the while. Tarkovsky works all this material into a profound, eerily quiet meditation on faith, nihilism and hope. Had Ingmar Bergman decided to tackle science fiction, he may have produced a film equally fascinating, but Tarkovsky’s vision was, and remains, a unique entry in weird cinema.
direction: Andrei Tarkovsky
script: Arkadiy Strugatskiy, Boris Strugatskiy, Andrei Tarkovsky
starring: Alisa Freyndlikh, Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, Anatoliy Solonitsyn
music: Eduard Artemev
cinematography: Aleksandr Knyazhinsky, Georgi Rerberg, Leonid Kalashnikov
editing: Lyudmila Feiginova
acknowledgements: MosFilm, Filmoteka Narodowa