Stalker pushes the limits of contemporary cinema, certainly of the narrative kind, past the point of normal accessibility. To break down physical spaces, colors, and textures of this film into simple psychoanalytic categories is unfair, as even Slavoj Žižek essentially concedes by wallowing in the wonder of Stalker‘s elements. Even this great thinker’s words and phrases like “post-industrial wasteland,” “Nature,” “decomposition,” and “human artifices” only barely suffice in pointing to ideas that are much more effectively captured through Andrei Tarkovsky’s cinematic eye. Like Andrei Rublev, one feels that Stalker is too high, too other, for standard critique. Value judgments have no place here, probably even positive ones. Human emptiness is most clearly manifest in human desires. Like a storm, at the heart of human desires there is a void, an eternal nothingness, a horrifying calm. The characters in Stalker traverse the dangerous terrain of the Zone only to arrive at the Room and turn back in despair. Too many descriptions of this film state that in the Room, “one’s deepest desires are fulfilled,” when it seems that it is one’s deepest single desire that is fulfilled there, but at a cost. Even more awful at the prospect of desires fulfilled is the desire fulfilled: the very exercise of identifying a single desire illustrates the impossibility of desires being met. The result of excursions into this reverse-Eden is deformation, nihilism, or at best, return to and embrace of the there, or as Heidegger would have it, the Dasein. As a philosophy club t-shirt once had it: “Have you hugged your Dasein today?” This may be the heart of the famous and beautiful confession/soliloquy of Stalker’s wife: faith – not religious faith per se, but the naked act of belief despite the void.
24 Mar This entry was published on March 24, 2009 at 2:16 pm. It’s filed under 1970s Cinema, Andrei Tarkovsky, Russian/Soviet Film and tagged Andrei Tarkovsky, cinema, Dasein, desire, Russian/Soviet Film, Stalker. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
Do you happen to have any high resolution scans of the movie? God I want a bluray of this RIGHT NOW.
Unfortunately those are the only ones I have. It was a borrowed copy (Netflix). Yeah, if we could start a petition to get Tarkovsky’s and Kieslowski’s works on Blu-ray, we’d be doing the world a good service.
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