Film Micrœview #22: Stalker (1979)

11.17.2013 § Leave a comment


This is a second viewing. I have been avoiding re-watching Stalker, actually, because the first time I saw it was so overwhelmed by the power with which it forced me to confront my fear of myself. It was a combination of either anxiety about not liking it as much the next time, or fear of how daunting the journey would be again.

This time I was less taken by its magic. There was something overly overtly allegorical about the protagonists. Though I can’t identify it concretely, I felt in the ebb and flow of the Writer, the Professor, and the Stalker’s allegiances and sympathies for each other something like a transcription of major events in human history. The scientist with his bomb at the end, in particular — is the novelist in this moment representative of not only art but also politics (as he defends the scientist from the religious stalker), while science is joined with the military? Where are agriculture, industry, the banks in all of this, though, I suppose…

It was more than just the allegory rubbing me the wrong way. While Tarkovsky’s long takes used to be novel for me, I’m pretty much over that now, and sad to say at times I felt less than enchantment as these men staggered around in terror of phantasmagoric threat, and couldn’t get past the profilmic reality of three guys acting all scared around some postapocalyptic ruins. The water everywhere was still beautiful, but the dog, birds, sand, and rain didn’t blow my mind this time. And while I still loved the transportation scene just before the color switch, I found myself wishing I was watching the highway sequence of Solaris instead.

I wish I could figure out what it means that the Stalker’s “mutant” daughter’s power of moving cups is mirrored by the opening where the cups are moved by the rattling of the train over their domicile.


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