Thu. Apr 18th, 2024

A Poetry of Tarkovsky

Tarkovsky’s Stalker may have become a sacred quest of time for film fans and cinemas. The film embodies the reputation of Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky. He has become one of the most talked-about and universally loved artists in the media. Even if many people did not dare criticize him, the admiration for the director’s skill would not stop. Instead, his film enhances and recalls the universal nature of his art. In 2017, Criterion announced a newly restored version of the film. With a limited theatrical re-release, one aspect of the director’s career was his own rules. He may have played an essential role in building his reputation.

However, his poetry for the film is similar to the philosophers’ works. They are Socrates, Shakespeare, and Dostoyevsky about the art’s rules, especially theater. Working in such a medium is about standing in time instead of presenting the impossibility of recording and presenting time. However, he designed it using cutting techniques and cameras, among others. Such a medium also can become a hieroglyph of absolute truth. Tarkovsky demands more from the audience’s senses than himself intellectually. In the film, the philosophy can be applied in many ways. Such things can be the technical aspects, characters, or the plot of the film.

Art and Limitation

It is hard to think that a filmmaker that people admire widely seems more mysterious than Tarkovsky. However, it stems from the dearth of Russian films on American screens. However, it might be a success for the new arthouse. In his first feature film, Tarkovsky made Ivan’s Childhood. He played an American date during the early sixties. When art film is an exotic genre itself, it is rare for a filmmaker to revive it at the time. In the film museum, a cut version of Andrei Rublev appears from time to time. On the other hand, Solaris is also cut. It has become a cult circuit fixture among sci-fi and arthouse lovers alike. Americans can often see his films in such a mecca to confidently evaluate his works.

Even less, he seems to have enough knowledge of contemporary Russian films to place his works in an adequate context. In addition, Tarkovsky had to drift out of Russia from time to time about his difficulties with the Soviet establishment. According to rumors, he is said to reject his style of filmmaking. His style and attention were too rare for the masses. According to the cliché, he had to be persuaded by the epoch of socialist realism, which became propaganda. The long years between Tarkovsky’s production excused his work. Despite all objections by the government and arrangements between him and the authorities, people remain ignorant of such all.

Dazzling Wounds

On a closer time at all of Tarkovsky’s films, Stalker is one of the changes in the director’s sacred quest and filmography. The director is a fighting spirit, but the high hopes were finally clouded. In the film, he works with almost the same material as before. Coupled with news of WWII and the Stalin era, the film reworks and expands on the down-to-earth aspects of Solaris. He also collects memories from rural life with his abandoned mother. In the film, he contrasts a muddy, crumbling urban society—the allure of the mysterious, reclusive natural wonder known as the Zone as well covered it.

Audiences can see it as a contemporary companion piece to Andrei Rublev, presenting an equally sharp contrast between the dazzling landscape and the savage wounds. On the other hand, Mirror tells a story of a broken home. It is about a lost love that remains irreplaceable, both in reality and through all forms of contemplative consolation, including the art of reviving it for the audience’s sake. The Zone promise in Stalker emphasizes a room somewhere in the middle. The room can embody the individual’s deepest desires, not only betrayed but sadly left by the horrors of the dominant pollution of modernity. Transcendence looks for the battered remnants in embedding the protagonist in its motives and goals.


Besides Stalker being Tarkovsky’s second time grappling with science fiction sacred quest, the film is an adaptation of the novel Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky brothers. When Tarkovsky read the book soon after it was published in the literary magazine Avrora in 1972, outside observers wondered why he was interested in such a particular story. However, it is not like high art source materials. Despite falling heavily on the spectrum of violent literature, it is full of violent language and slang.

With characterization and sentiment matching the attributes, it floats beneath the surface. It also clings specifically to the character’s psychology, who will be the protagonist of the film’s eponym. Literary connoisseurs can see the softness of the view that is difficult to define further. However, it aligns with the director’s usual preoccupation with humanistic beliefs. In the sanctity of the unit, the book’s essential vision is that it is dystopian without having people say it is dystopian. There were also many things in the Soviet Union at the time. It became a dystopia representation between reality and art.

The Zone

Apart from the novel adaptation and a time of a sacred quest, Stalker is a free film. The director’s basic idea of the Zone was brought to life years in the past by an alien invasion. It is full of mysterious dangers that Tarkovsky has been exploring illegally for years by freelance agents known as stalkers. He also offered himself as a guide for tourists. However, the book has more twists, characters, and incidents. Unlike the films, Tarkovsky’s work involves a strict simplification of the storyline, as adaptations almost always have to be. At a specific moment, the journey to the Zone described in the book was reduced to one attack.

On the other hand, the stalker’s friends, the writer, and the professor are an invention on the part of the director. In the middle of the Zone, and only accessible to travelers who survived the invisible terror, lies a legendary room mentioned earlier. In the book, the magic of connecting an object, i.e., a golden ball, is not to a destination but instead shows both ideas to be identical. Film viewers have different opinions on how deep each faces a concept as book readers. When viewed from a philosophical or spiritual point of view, the deepest desires’ terminus will always be saved by the complexity of distribution throughout the film. What is such a deep desire that never ends up being pinned to any of the three characters in a way that people can openly interpret?

A Room of Stalker

The story is about a stalker. He lives with his family in a border area known simply as the Zone. He makes a living giving people tours of forbidden areas to a room within the Zone, a legendary location where the deepest desires of individuals will be fulfilled. On the other hand, his wife begs him not to continue his dangerous work. She was afraid that he would be caught again by the guards. Her husband still met his new customers, a writer, and a professor, with their motives for venturing into the Zone, the three walk through the heavily guarded railroad tracks into the Zone. Tension begins to rise between the three men, with the stalker trying their best to ensure their safety.

He also explains the room’s wonders, and the other two argue almost constantly about their opinions about the purpose of the Zone, art, or science. Despite the multiple interpretations’ efficacy, Tarkovsky has once again created a universal parable, and it is rather than a film dictated by conventions such as genre. However, while the approach in considering the film is his thinking about belief, perhaps the strongest thematic is the idea of identity, for the most part. In Mirror, home is always associated with an individual and a memory. In Stalker, memory and time become a mysterious sacred quest in considering reaction by reaction and step by step. When the stalker fell into the thick grass of the Zone, he knew he would not be hurt because he was not like in the outside world.

The Critics of Kubrickian

Tarkovsky started Stalker in black and white. Almost the first sequence is like there is a room in an emulsion. However, the effect is most evident as the camera slowly moves over the protagonist and his family as they sleep in their hut in the spewing modern suburb of a modern city. Like the latent aura of sepia, it lyrically radiates from the forest to the prairie in another Tarkovsky film, Solaris. Foliage and Mirror scenery also blow the wind in Stalker‘s opening sequence. It exudes stagnation, tangle, and gloom like a noxious code red smoke signal. It was as if the whole world had taken on the character of a sick and emaciated railroad. Tarkovsky also uses his camera and slow speed to increase the audience’s desire to get out and challenge the Zone with its three explorers.

This method relates him to what Kubrick did with a similar move in 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the film, Kubrick centers on the lure of exploring the unknown, mired in the most stifling worldly life. Throughout the film, audiences witness apes stumbling toward the great discovery of bones as weapons. The astronauts then drifted relentlessly through the Jupiter Mission, wanting to speed things up, but the film’s unavoidable measurable drift only held it back. After which, it will reach the destination promptly, not the audience. The effects directly translate cinematic terms about the frustration of exploring any form. Whether knowledge or enlightenment, dead ends, difficulties make leaps a significant component of the arthouse style. So instead of that, Tarkovsky uses such a time effect in Stalker before and after the audience’s sacred quest. He also used its characters to enter the room of the Zone.

The Victim

In considering such a more or less constant contact with the Zone through the protagonist’s tour, the stalker realizes another world. Apart from his daughter being a “victim of the Zone,” another world outside the unwelcome world in ruins, he and his family are still alive. Like the future in Solaris, there is nothing about the future and a time of sacred quest in Stalker. It does not appear to have progressed progressively and has begun to form like the cave paintings suggested by outdated people. Despite the rusty industrial landscape of what was around the Chernobyl nuclear plant after the 1986 accident, the world in the film seems to have lost touch with reality.

Most of the worlds within the Zone seem to exhibit different concepts inside and outside the Zone. In the protagonist’s journey through the Zone, it seems to disappear at one point only to reconnect with the other two after many minutes. In Solaris, the surface of the film’s planets is constantly changing. On the other hand, zone design does not follow the laws of nature. It escapes the literary approach to understanding the room by the author. As the professor and author represent, concepts like logic and interpretation can never fully understand the Zone or anything within it. Because fundamentally, their belief in external reality raises doubts when they seek ways to both explain and hide their separate worldviews.

Monumental Sculpture

The witty, ambivalent, and hyperrealism play out indefinitely as the apparent verbal disagreements of the three traveler characters. They are undoubtedly among the film’s main treasures, along with the ever-changing mood swings. Regardless of which, many other things are equally astonishing in the scope of Tarkovsky’s studies. It must be considered, especially when talking about moments of great sleep, silence, and warmth. Eduard Artemyev played an essential role in composing an excellent musical score in such a case.

It may also seem cliché to insist that film is a visual medium. However, what is not said is just as crucial as articulating a genuine ethical struggle. Tarkovsky seems to have found a way to photograph human heads like he is never photographed before in the film’s total effects. He likes to animate in silence and make his monumental in philosophical and sculptural forms. Given the chaotic disruption to the production process, the concentration of effort Tarkovsky achieved was surprising as a miracle. Naturally, Tarkovsky hypnotizes the audience’s head as he hypnotizes the stalker, writer, and professor.

Georgy Rerbert

The Stalker‘s mystery continued throughout its troubled production. Indeed, the state of filming can be said to be a secondary layer of the legend. Maiboroda made a 2009 documentary, going into such a backdrop in detail, and it is an interesting question whether the timing that comes up can be said to reveal the film. In a perverted or strange way, it fortifies his parallel charm. Maiboroda is called Tarkovsky, and Rerbert is the reverse side of the stalker, a significant investigation into the circumstances surrounding his dismissal during the shoot of Tarkovsky’s prominent cameraman Georgy Rerbert. He is in charge of Mirror‘s exquisite color photography.

In the documentary, Rerbert becomes the center of attention. The film tells the story from his point of view and, in the process, manages to paint a scathing portrait of director Stalker as an impatient, arrogant, but arrogant human being. Tarkovsky’s bad behavior on set is naturally irrelevant to the significance of the film’s ending. However, among the many revelations that have emerged, two more seem particularly interesting when audiences judge Stalker historically. The first concerns the location in all the special features, the director’s original idea was that the film should be shot near the city of Isfara. Preparations had reached an advanced stage in February 1977 when a severe earthquake in the region required searching for alternative locations.


The search ended with the film being shot in Estonia. Last-minute changes of terrain like such are relatively standard in filmmaking. It would not be worth thinking about if it were not because the film’s watery and lush landscape plays a vital role in its aesthetics. Apart from this, it is not only a film but also a legend. Part of the mystique and reputation of the film is that, strangely, Tarkovsky’s exploration of the inside is a foretelling of destruction after decades of nuclear power plants at Chernobyl. The strange beauty of the waterlogged landscape where professors, writers, and stalkers go on their experimental journeys is anything but, in fact, not beautiful. It is even terrible for the people who work in the place.

The crew had to stand for hours on their knees in a pool of smelly oil at one location. Meanwhile, waste is dumped upstream, and a paper processing factory blankets the site with rotting poison. Going on for months, witnesses have written about such behind the scenes. When the first shooting in Estonia failed after three months, Tarkovsky replaced Rerberg with another director of photography, Kalashnikov. The crew worked hard to reproduce the lost magical footage throughout the fall. However, it was unsuccessful and completely reshot under another cameraman, Knyazhinsky. Apart from being the final cut, the audience will not realize such torture if they do not know it from outside sources. As the audience knows, the film looks so beautiful. The parts are so calculated that the last millimeter unfolds so smoothly.


The drama of the audience’s arrival is not like the conflict between Tarkovsky and Rerberg and not like the other rooms of Kubrickian in 2001: A Space Odyssey. A slit-scan journey into intergalactic space in the room brings up another comparison that is not as far-fetched as it seems at the outset. Both rooms are enchanted, alive with promise, hot with fiery colors, but have a strange sound. The Zone becomes a hell hole where the stalker and his friends appear. In comparison, it is a little unattractive and not particularly otherworldly beautiful. On the other hand, the indoor world looks like a dull and ordinary wilderness.

Therefore, Tarkovsky lifts its color intensity only slightly from the monochrome look of the opening scene. He never makes the film exciting, as he has done in the past. The Zone also proved to be a vast illusion. Even though the stalkers, for example, tried to establish laws about how his lawsuit should proceed if they were to reach the chamber, they violated them several times without harm. Most of the land also proved to be littered with civilization’s dross, as was the outside world. Again reversing the main image, Tarkovsky shows the aqueducts in the Zone strewn with trash. The long struggle through an underground culvert indicates an abandoned subway or sewer system. In essence, there are no shortcuts.

An Enigma Extent

In addition to being a multi-layered film, Stalker is also a scientific film about time that touches on a sacred quest ranging from identity, spirituality, belief, and conflicts within a film. With some of the most beautiful shots in cinema, the vulnerable and fantasy show is a film that is as compelling as the story surrounding the production. The shot has a glimmer of hope at the end. Like the mysterious room in the Zone, it will reveal its secrets to those willing enough to enter. Likewise, with the film, in the end, like the room, everything can be just an illusion or an exclusive. Immaterial, the film is also a good film for those who will watch it again and again.

Despite being more straightforward than either Mirror or Solaris, Tarkovsky has made a film with an incredible amount of visual references. Ambiguous scenes and details convey the beauty and provoke reactions. Especially now, Criterion has restored the film to an extraordinary extent. Now that so much has been revealed; it might change the viewing experience. As the camera moves beyond the stalker sleeping on the grassy ground, the audience sees various mundane objects buried deep under the sand. It changes for those used to more unstable film copies. All have lost their meaning in the Zone, the place beyond this world and the hereafter. Such a choice is home to the makers who have adapted to tints of color rather than sepia.


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