Starring: Aleksandr Kajdanovsky, Anatoli Solonitsyn, Nicolai Grinko
Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Distributor: Shock (Distinction Series)
Set in an eerie post Apocalyptic, pre-Chernobyl landscape, Andrei Tarkovsyky’s cult classic provides a picturesque and ponderous contemplation on the meaning of life that taps nicely into the current debate surrounding religion and faith. Seeking out a fabled room where ones’ innermost wishes are realised, a Writer and a Scientist hire the services of a Stalker to guide them through the quagmire of The Zone – a depopulated place that was apparently struck by a meteorite twenty odd years ago, eliminating all the inhabitants. People who subsequently went there never returned. Only the truly wretched can slip through it’s closely guarded borders and come back with their lives intact.
Our apprehensive Stalker is one such a man, as are his sceptical charges. Dodging military bullets they pass from their bleak, black and white industrialised world into the lush green watery Zone where a welcome peace descends upon them. As they carefully move towards their Holy Grail questions arise about the nature of mind – the Writer declares that his conscience wants vegetarianism to take over the world while his sub-conscience craves meat and world domination. When they finally arrive at their destination, however, they waver. Do they really want to realize their inner most wishes? What if The Room can’t actually deliver?
Tarkovsky initially shot this dream-like story on experimental stock that was destroyed in the laboratory, forcing him to re-do the entire thing all over again with a greatly reduced budget. But the results are nonetheless mesmerising, securing a special award from the Ecumenical Jury at the 1980 Cannes film Festival. While remaining ambiguous about its meaning, the film leaves the final say to the Stalkers wife and his daughter who, though a mutant, has telekinetic powers. She lives in her own zone, without the distraction of words.