The time has come for me to review this masterpiece by USSR's Andrei Tarkovsky. It's my belief that every single filmlover should see this film more than once in his/her lifetime. Tarkovsky is a unique filmmaker, mainly because his work is mostly based on eastern culture and literature. East was mainly ignored by western mainstream filmmakers, even tho many novels and short stories deserve to be filmized and shown to the wider audience.
Tarkovsky's "Stalker" is based on a short story by the Strugatsky brothers, Soviet sci fi writers, creators of the "World of Noon", that Cameron's Avatar is based on. Cameron denies the connection, but that's not fooling anyone. The name of the story is "Roadside picnic". It's a different kind of sci fi, focusing on the characters, not on bigass space ships and futuristic weapons. If you're a sci fi fan, you should deffinitely give it a go, being that it's unlike anything west has to offer. I should also mention that this film has nothing to do with a PC game called "S.T.A.L.K.E.R.". Although the creators claim that their game is inspired by the story, one finds it hard to see the connection.
It is really hard to say what this film is about without spoiling it. Then again, this film is also hard to spoil. One has to see all of it before seeing what this film is about and what the message is. This film is character based. It is based on "Roadsice picnic", but Tarkovsky's view and approach to the story istelf is more than a bit different. He did not use all of the explainations that the story provides, but rather came up with his own, in order to make his point. And he did. This film follows the characters as they make their way into a "Zone", a mystical place where the government doesn't want them to be in. They all have their reasons to visit the Zone, but in the end they all find things different than what they wanted to see. Two of the travelers, a writer and a scientist are lead by a Stalker, a person who knows the location of the room within the Zone that's supposed to be making the wishes come true. Tarkovsky's view of the room is somewhat simular to his view of the ocean in "Solyaris". The main characters represent two (three?) sides of the human nature, rational and artistic, and focuses on their strugle as they make their way to the room. I believe this is the core of it all and revealing one more bit would spoil some things for you, so I'll just leave it here.
Tarkovsky's directing is uniquely beautiful. Before the chacaters enter the Zone, everything is shot in black and white, the sorrounding is dull and gray, while the zone is shown in full color and all of its beauty. Many references can be made and I believe that it's up to a viewer to tell. This film is very much like the Zone itself, so I don't suggest searching for the answers in reviews, because they will all point out just one point of view. Most of the film is not dialogue based, but rather based on long beautifuly made shots of the sorrounding that tells a lot more than words ever could. That is the beauty of it all. The dialogues are there, but not when there is no need for them. I believe this film is a genre of its own, as well as many other Tarkovsky's films. One can't simply define it as a drama, or a sci fi, or anything. It's pure art of filmmaking, using all of the benefits of the media and showing the world why it's not a book, or a theater piece, but a motion picture.