Stalker (1979)


Stalker (1979) - poster

Raiting: 8 /10

Genre: Mystery

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky

Stars: Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, Anatoliy Solonitsyn and Nikolay Grinko

Country: Soviet Union

Release date: 25 May 1979

Length: 163 minutes

"Stalker", a 1979 film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, is a thought-provoking and atmospheric masterpiece that delves into the realms of science fiction and philosophy. The film is loosely based on the novel "Roadside Picnic" by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, who also wrote the screenplay with Tarkovsky. Set in a mysterious and dystopian world, "Stalker" follows the journey of three men as they navigate a perilous area known as the Zone, which is said to fulfill a person's innermost desires.

The film opens in a grim, unnamed location, where we meet the Stalker (Alexander Kaidanovsky), a guide who takes clients to the Zone. The Zone is a restricted and enigmatic place, rumored to have been touched by an extraterrestrial event, and it is guarded by the military to prevent unauthorized access. Despite the danger, the Stalker agrees to lead two clients—a cynical writer seeking inspiration (Anatoly Solonitsyn) and a professor looking for scientific discovery (Nikolai Grinko)—into the heart of the Zone to find a room that allegedly grants one's deepest wish.

The journey to the Zone is fraught with tension and uncertainty. Upon entering, the landscape changes dramatically from the bleak industrial surroundings to a lush and verdant environment that seems to defy the laws of physics and logic. The Stalker instructs his companions to follow his exact path, as deviating from it can lead to unseen perils. The characters' psychological depths are explored as they traverse the Zone, with the Stalker acting as both guide and philosopher, prompting his clients to reflect on their lives and desires.

As the trio approaches the room, their motivations and ethical dilemmas come to the forefront. The Stalker sees the journey as a spiritual quest, while the writer and the professor grapple with their skepticism and the potential consequences of their wishes being granted. The film's climax is ambiguous, leaving the viewer to ponder the nature of desire, faith, and the human condition.

"Stalker" is characterized by its slow pace, long takes, and meditative atmosphere, which create a sense of otherworldliness and introspection. Tarkovsky's use of natural sound and minimalistic music contributes to the film's haunting quality. The cinematography is striking, with a transition from sepia tones to rich color that underscores the contrast between the world outside the Zone and the surreal landscape within. "Stalker" is not just a science fiction narrative but a philosophical inquiry, a film that invites multiple interpretations and lingers in the mind long after the final credits roll.

Top cast - Stalker (1979)

Nikolay Grinko

Nikolay Grinko


Alisa Freyndlikh

Alisa Freyndlikh

Stalker's Wife

Natasha Abramova

Natasha Abramova

Martha, Stalker's Daughter

Faime Jurno

Faime Jurno

Writer's Companion

Evgeniy Kostin

Evgeniy Kostin

Lyuger, Owner of Cafe

Raymo Rendi

Raymo Rendi

Police Patrol

Trailer - Stalker (1979)

Andrei Tarkovsky's "Stalker" is a film that transcends the boundaries of traditional science fiction to offer a meditative and existential journey. Released in 1979, this enigmatic and visually arresting film is often hailed as one of the greatest cinematic works of the 20th century. It is a profound exploration of human desire, faith, and the search for meaning in an inscrutable world.

The narrative follows a guide known as the Stalker, who leads two clients—a writer and a professor—through the perilous and otherworldly Zone to find a room that is said to grant an individual's innermost wishes. The film is marked by its leisurely pace and long, uninterrupted takes, which draw the viewer into the hypnotic world of the Zone. Tarkovsky's masterful use of sound and image creates a deeply immersive atmosphere that is both unsettling and captivating.

The cinematography of "Stalker" is a technical marvel. The contrast between the dreary, sepia-toned industrial wasteland and the lush, vibrant landscape of the Zone is visually striking and serves to heighten the film's thematic juxtapositions. Tarkovsky's attention to environmental detail and the use of natural elements such as water and vegetation give the Zone a palpable presence, almost as if it were a character itself—a sentient entity that challenges the protagonists' understanding of reality.

The performances are understated yet powerful, with each actor bringing depth to their role. The Stalker, played by Alexander Kaidanovsky, is particularly compelling as the spiritual and troubled guide whose faith in the Zone provides a sharp contrast to his clients' skepticism and existential angst. The philosophical dialogues that unfold between the characters are thought-provoking, touching on topics of science, art, and the human spirit, and are delivered with a sincerity that invites the viewer to engage with the film's complex ideas.

One of the most remarkable aspects of "Stalker" is its ability to inspire introspection and philosophical debate. The film does not provide easy answers; instead, it poses profound questions about the nature of happiness, the ethics of desire, and the quest for something beyond the material world. Tarkovsky's work is a tapestry of allegory and symbolism, a rich text that rewards multiple viewings and continues to be a subject of analysis and discussion among cinephiles and scholars alike.

In conclusion, "Stalker" is a masterpiece of world cinema, a work that stands out for its thematic depth, stunning visuals, and the unique vision of its director. Andrei Tarkovsky has crafted a film that is both a philosophical treatise and a visual poem, one that resonates with the viewer's own experiences and beliefs. For those willing to embark on its slow and winding journey, "Stalker" is an unforgettable cinematic experience that challenges and enriches, cementing its place as a timeless classic in the realm of art-house film.