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99 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tarkovksy's best film (along with Solaris)...
This film is as amazing as you have heard. It's arguably Tarkovsky's best film (and the last one he made completely under the auspices of the USSR), and a film that gets inside your head and your soul. The plot is rather simple. An alien force lands on Earth, and then leaves. The area where they landed is a vast wasteland where the laws of physics are suspended. It's...
Published on March 17, 2007 by Grigory's Girl

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tarkovsky's film is here, but not the default play.
This Kino release of Stalker has two discs -- one with the film, the other with extras. Navigation on the first disc is poorly designed, so you have to dig into the audio setup to find out that there are actually two versions of the soundtrack. The default is _not_ Tarkovsky's soundtrack; it's a 5.1 dolby soundtrack which altered and added sound, including a music track...
Published 15 months ago by H. Sansom

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99 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tarkovksy's best film (along with Solaris)..., March 17, 2007
This review is from: Stalker (DVD)
This film is as amazing as you have heard. It's arguably Tarkovsky's best film (and the last one he made completely under the auspices of the USSR), and a film that gets inside your head and your soul. The plot is rather simple. An alien force lands on Earth, and then leaves. The area where they landed is a vast wasteland where the laws of physics are suspended. It's been dubbed the zone (or 3OHA in Russian). A stalker (not the current definition), a writer, and a professor venture into the zone, where there is a room that will grant you your most inner wishes. Now, it's not what you ask for, it's what you really desire. The room reads into your soul. This is a very slow, cerebral movie (it wouldn't be a Tarkovsky movie otherwise), but it has to be seen many times to fully comprehend it. I love Stalker's "dream" sequence, which has one of the most amazing shots I've ever seen in cinema. The ending is really exceptional as well. I have seen Stalker at least 10 times, and I can see 10 more. It was a difficult shoot (Tarkovsky had to stop shooting because there was a defect in the film stock he was using. He had to reshoot from scratch, essentially), yet, it is Tarkovsky's greatest film along with Solaris and Andrei Rublev. When you watch it, make sure that you choose the original mono soundtrack. The DVD company, RUSCICO, remixed the soundtrack to 5.1 dolby, but they ADDED sound to the original film, including music during the ride to the zone (which originally only had dialogue and the sound of the trolley car). It was awful. They ended up reissuing the disc with both tracks after the outcry by Tarkovsky admirers.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brothers Karamazov visit Chernobyl, December 24, 2000
Joseph Heaney (Jacksonville, FL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Stalker [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker is another one of those movies with a bipolar disorder; You either love it or hate it. Having said this, I must admit that I loved the movie. So be forewarned. This is another review by an enthusiast. Stalker improves upon recollection and has a fascination that one cannot readily explain.
The stalker leads others into a mysterious and forbidden zone that is heavily protected by a police state. Was the zone caused by a meteorite? We do not know. We do know that many have entered the zone never to return. And we also know that in the twenty some years since the meteorite fell, a legend has grown up that there exists within the zone a room where one's innermost wish may be granted. The calling of the stalker, who has faith in the legend, is to lead others past the police guards and through the labyrinthine zone to the room.
The action begins when a writer and a physicist meet together with the stalker in a dreary bar. Everything is wet and slippery here, as it is through most of the movie. Curiously, the images change from sepia to color as we enter the zone. As the stalker explains the mysteries to us we know that we are not in Kansas anymore. In the decidely un-cartesian zone one never traverses the shortest distance between two points. An indirect approach is always best. Only the stalker can divine the way, which is confused beyond words.
It is an understatement to say that the scenes are disquieting. The zone is strewn with syringes, silt, and debris of all kinds. Everything seems to be wet, including the visitors. But they don't mind. They are engaged in philosophical-religious speculation! For shame to think of personal comfort when larger issues are at stake.
It is remarkable that in 1980 Tarkovsky created a film about a dangerous zone strewn with debris, where children of frequent visitors have deformed children. I cannot escape the conclusion that this film artistically predicted Chernobyl.
In many ways the zone is like life (where sometimes progress is simple and other times it is confused beyond words). In other ways it is like death. But it is not all gloom and doom. The Stalker is, in his original way, beatific. Through the prayerful monologue of the stalker Tarkovsky accomplishes the transcendent moments characteristic of all of his films. The stalker's faith is reminiscent of the cargo cults of the South Pacific. That the object of his faith is pathetic makes it no less sincere.
The unnamed "writer" and "professor" are profoundly different individuals whose only common experience seems to be suffering. But the quality of their suffering is different. Our "writer" has specialized in a kind of suffering that contaminates all who come within the orbit of his wit. The professor has suffered alone, in intellectual isolation. The stalker has suffered as well, but he has sacrificed his suffering and has attained an acceptance of life through faith. It is a fragile acceptance though, one that can be shaken by intellectuals convinced that they have been "born for something".
Stalker convinces us that a man be so misguided as to worship the most pathetic of objects. If such a man has sacrificed his suffering he is greater than the most exalted intellectual.
I am impressed that you have read this review from beginning to end. You must really be a fine person!
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143 of 163 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The title STALKER is misunderstood, June 30, 1999
This review is from: Stalker [VHS] (VHS Tape)
The title STALKER is quite misunderstood because many think it is a translation from a Russian word that means 'to stalk.'. Actually Tarkovsky's script inserted the word STALKER thinking it was a catchy English equivalent for something like a Russian pathfinder or guide. In that context, the central character's role is better understood, for he spends time leading the writer and scientist toward discovery and revelation, which they ultimately cannot achieve. STALKER is a masterpiece of imposed reality on the viewer. Make no mistake: this film is very difficult to stay with without your utmost attention. Little artifice, few physical elements, hardly any plot, STALKER exists as a journey that draws your mind, heart, and soul into the nature of human existence. Only those intelligent and sensitive enough to ride Tarkovsky's waves of feeling, emotion, and thought can comprehend his message of possible salvation and redemption through love and persistent searching for human truth. The writing on the video box implies this is another sci fi film, but clearly it is not. Tarkovsky's great films are mythical allegories in the tradition of Pilgrim's Progress or Piers Plowman. For me, Tarkovsky is the ultimate challenge in intellectual film making, because he presents and discusses his ideas only in the context of the film itself, not just as a media vehicle to speak. What strikes me most is his absolutely consistent sense of pace in all his films: slow, deliberate, but fluid and highly organic. He is one of the few great masters of film as an art form.
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62 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST FILM EVER CREATED, April 22, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Stalker [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This is a film about faith, divine grace and the fruitless vanity stemming from our soul's original sin. To quote from one of the characters in the film," My mind preaches vegetarianism, but my heart longs for a juicy piece of steak." And this is the premise of the three characters journey into the Zone - to seek out their steak: to find the Room in the Zone that will grant them their wishes; and this coming from the very same people whose professions demands higher standards of moral living from them, careers that require them to preach vegetarianism. Of course they have failed in their lives professions, and the characters know this but their inner chaos stem from the private pains in their lives, their failure to live up to their calling and their denial/certainty about their indivisual failures and states of their tarnished souls. Although Stalker is someone who leads others into the the Zone as a guide, his purpose apparently being to help others obtain their wish and thus bring about happiness for others, yet Tarkovsky hints that Stalker's outward explaination is dubious as he will not hesitate to make scapegoats and guinea pigs of his clients in the face of uncertainty and danger. As for Writer, he is, yes, a writer who is going into the Zone to look and beg for inspiration and faith in life as a whole; until Writer can obtain this wish, his cynicism and lack of faith can be summed up in one of his quotes:" A writer can only write about his readers." Professor is a scientist whose reason for seeking out the Room is unspecified until at the very end of the film but I will not divulge his reason.He is a researcher who has to bear his boss's fury and defintely hates his job at the lab. Many great cinematic moments are to be found in the film, in fact the film is one great cinematic moment non-stop, even after it ends, and this can be attributed to Tarkovsky's brilliant handling of every aspect of the film; one can even go so far as to say that with this film tarkovsky proved that he is easily the Einstein of cinema. His vision is earth shattering, deviating almost completely from the original intentions of the writers of a novel on which the film was based. The ending when it is revealed the reason why one of the guides of the Zone hanged himself despite obtaining a wish from the Room will blow away anyone who lives in the frustrated knowledge of life and all our mortal desires as an empty vainity of vanities without the presence of God and selfless love. The editing, set designs, music and lighting, the human choreography, the wisdom and everything in this film qualifies it as the best film ever made. Totally original without trying to be. If you only watch one film for the rest of your life this has to be it! It will make you want to live better, stirring profound thoughts and feelings within you long after the film's over. This is more than a film, it's almost a miracle. The British label ARTIFICIAL EYE apparently has better English subtitles and shows the complete film without cuts unlike the American version, or so I read.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most powerful emotional experience on film, September 26, 2005
This review is from: Stalker (DVD)
I first saw a Tarkovsky film when I was 10. It was a pretty young age to watch a film like Andrei Rublyov, but even then I knew this film maker to be different from all the rest. Over the years I have watched all his films except Zerkalo (Mirror), but I have found this film, Stalker, to be the most powerful emotional experience ever captured on celluloid. It never suffices to waste words on a Tarkovsky work, because primarily he's a poet who has chosen the medium of the film out of necessity and because of his training - and like all good poetry his work - the things he manages to express in his films - cannot really be done justice by words. Like one of his characters (Little Man in Sacrifice) says, 'In the beginning was the word...why was it so, Papa?' It sounds almost like an apology to Andrei Tarkovsky.

The main reason I wrote this was because I felt uneasy that there were so many bad "reviews" by morons who can't sit through a film that doesn't have blood or sex in it (I feel this view has already been expressed by one of the more mature reviewers). I cannot believe that people can talk about inane films like Titanic and incredible classics like Stalker in the same breath. At least they should have the discretion to know that these are fundamentally different ways of making film. Why, Tarkovsky used slow-motion in only two instances, and on both those instances he did it reluctantly because he was not being natural! He was a director who respected the rights of all the artists - foremost among them the actors - so much that he did not interfere with their "secrets", so to say.

Let us forget the tasteless imbeciles. I know this is just a forum for opinions, but I am also disconcerted by so much talk about symbolism in Tarkovsky's films. What symbolism is there is Stalker? Or Rublev? In any of his films? I think we have forgotten, through the glut of bad films, how a film should be like, or what a film looked like before Hollywood corrupted it with its dose of violence and sensual excess. I think, like the images of nature depicted in his films, Tarkovsky's films are pristine, verdant, untouched... and even the slightest ripple in the river is cause for joy, celebration.

We have come a long way from simple pleasures that we have forgotten what joy is... if we get uneasy if the film shows 30 seconds of a river flowing, is it because our time is so precious that in the thirty seconds we would achieve paradise trying to work out the inches to a celebrated torso? Or is it because we have trained ourselves to become callous idiots seeking after sensual pleasures?

Whatever the reason, it cannot be the fault of a film maker keen on showing the simple truths, on giving rushed individuals a glimpse of the spiritual heights he himself has achieved by turning over the most tormenting thoughts again and again that finally only the thought remained, and all the traces of toil were removed... it is a great gift to present a work of art after removing all traces of preparation and toil. His work is there for you to see, if you want to. He never clamoured for fame or wealth. If he had,then he'd have been a billionaire (such crass flicks like X-Men, Matrix, Syamalan's sci-fi "original" sci-fi thrillers wouldn't have existed). The sad truth is, a lot many of wealthy idiots in the business would have been doing the dishes if this film hadn't given them ideas. But such is life.

I'd recommend this film to all of those folks who need to be reassured that all the toemtn, all the guilt, all the wretchedness they have endured trying to makse sense of human values like dignity, brotherhood, sacrifice and faith - ideas that get completely forgotten by that overused word called love - yes: such people would find meaning, and only such people. For others, even sympathetic viewers, Stalker would be much of a sacrifice for nothing. There's nothing to be gained by those others. but to the wretched ones the film addresses, it is the last place of hope.

I am not one of the "winners", and in general I do not find it hard to understand why. This film does not really fit in the usual Tarkovsky canon, where every film at least tells a story, because it has no story. Time, space and action all move fluidly to the same point to produce several breathtaking moments of truth where we see man at his most compassionate. It's such moments that remind us that human beings are capable of a higher life, of higher values.

In Stalker, probably Tarkovsky's last great film (I do not believe Nostalghia or Sacrifice come even close, and that's mainly because they are personal films, made after a traumatic defection to the West), he deals with several human values conclusively. The main thread is human dignity, then faith, service of others, compassion, selfless love, and hope. He has said all there is to be said to all those things. The film does not leave any open ends, it's conclusive, and this quality is impressive...almost hard to believe. It's the least poetic of his works, he is matching his wits with the greatest prose works of the mould of, say, Crime and Punishment...

I recall someone ruing that this film has been a disappointment after waiting for 20 years. I'm sorry he expected to see something different. But for all these 19 years this is the film I've been waiting to see, and it could not have been any different. It is unique in every respect, and it's the only film of its kind. I only wish vainly that it were not so, that Mr Tarkovsky left us a few more than the eight films that he did. Be that as it may, we should consider ourselves fortunate that we have what we have...
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, I do have better drugs...., August 21, 2005
Wayne A. (Belfast, Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Stalker (DVD)
I love the trash review directly below! And I always stupidly thought it was drugs and sophomoric attitudes that made films like this impossible for some people.

Working with next to nothing, Tarkovsky conjures up a unique film experience. Imagine a visually magical film about the search for the Grail filmed in someones backyard--it's kind of like that. In some respects it's a bit like Godard's Alphaville...but only in some. It's certainly not a film to "get," but one to get lost in and I think that's why it frustrates a lot of viewers who sometimes think every intelligent film is a puzzle that needs to be worked out. Some film-goers need to understand that one can't always be poetic and linear/literal (I say "can't always" to be ironic). Hard point to make in the world's most unpoetical linear/literal society.

Tarkovsky is a master of the tangential, the sublime, the surreal--anything but the direct. I've watched this film nearly a dozen times and I can't tell you what most of it is about--especially the ending (which is utterly devastating and quite beautiful). Well, that's not totally true, I've a fair idea what it's vaguely about; in some ways the meaning's as clear as French criticism. It's just elusive too, because people's souls are slippery eels, and souls seem to be an obsession with Tarkovsky.

I'd put hard money on this being a great film but it's tough to prove it, especially using the Procrustean critical and analytical tools we find scattered around the garage today (The "Boring-ometer," or the "Left-handed PC Gauge") People who strongly dislike it seem to be of two camps: one is the sort of ADD group that can't handle long, slow movies with little visceral stimulation; it's a valid lifestyle for many but insufficient grounds for condemning anything*. The other camp consists of a type that's been with us since the cave man or woman discoverer of the wheel was given one star on Amazon.rock for creating a pointless spinning thing that made folks dizzy. There's no response available to complaints that a complex, advanced, or visionary work of art is "boring," "artsy," or "pretentious." The reviewer is writing--quite validly and no irony intended--to his or her equals and they should listen keenly. My dog, Alphonse, once reviewed a Beethoven symphony and described it as "meaningless and annoying low-frequency noise with no hope of dinner or treat implied in its raucous ending" and since that was published (in The New Yorker, no less!) no other dog has bothered to listen to the "Eroica." My cat hates paintings by Mondrian because the artist didn't leave enough texture on the canvas to sharpen ones nails on. The mice, however, love Pollock. To each according to their needs and abilities.

[* I recently suggested to the Turner folks that since colorizing worked so well to bring boring old black and white films to the attention of the easily distracted (Or "Differently Attentive" as the PC folks say), that we should, uh, "stimulize" slow-moving old films. This would involve say, adding footage of car crashes and explosions, maybe even a graphic decapitation to "Twelve Angry Men" or re-editing "Jane Eyre" so that it looked like an MTV video. We could easily digitally minimize clothing so that "Miracle on 42nd Street" could get an R rating and an audience. Just a thought]
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SOUL CANDY, January 25, 2000
This review is from: Stalker [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I'm ashamed to admit this, but I bought this film because I thought it would be full of special effects ala THE MATRIX. Wrong. Instead, I was hypnotized by a wondrous film full of the power and frustration of Faith. Filmed in the waning days of the Soviet Union the film seems to exemplify spiritual emptiness and the desperate search for the Divine and Miraculous. The State has built a Wall around "The Zone", as if afraid of what people might find there. The Guide who leads people through the Zone tells tales of its mysterious tendencies and fluctuations...which we never see even though we, like the "pilgrims", desperately want to. So does the guide really believe in the Zone? Or is he the victim, too, of desperation? The Professor tries to "get rid" of the Zone, so as not to be tortured by it anymore. The Writer tried to be glib about the Zone, unconvincingly. And then The Child, at the very end, when no one else is around, neither Politicians or Scientists or Artists or it the vibration of the train or something else? A soulful, even painful, journey into our own Inner Zone where Nothing/Something waits...
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grand philosophical journey, November 26, 2002
This review is from: Stalker (DVD)
This 1979 Andrei Tarkovsky film, a favorite among his fans, is all philosophy in a story of three men searching for meaning in their lives in a hellish environment. Truth, motive, art, meaning, purpose, reason, selfishness, hope, soul, belief, are all examined here. The story focusses on three men. They are called Stalker, Professor and Writer. The Professor and Writer have hired the Stalker to take them to the guarded Zone, where mysterious hidden forces influence the area. In the heart of the Zone is a room, where any wish will be granted. The three men, have to overcome various physical, mental, and social problems among themselves to reach the room. They discuss, debate, and reflect on their world and situation, and philosophize on the room, and the mysterious forces in the world, and their place in it. What will this journey hold for them, and the room, waiting, offer to them? What do they really wish for, and what will it mean to the rest of mankind? And why does the Stalker bring others to the room, but he does not enter?
So many questions are raised in this interesting sci-fi analysis of human existence. The film is long and slow, but nevertheless, the ideas are fascinating, and are a real treat to see laid out masterfully by Tarkovsky, in images, words, and music, within an entertaining story. The film is emotional, and as in other Tarkovsky's films, he creates an experience in you, and warps your views of the world, and offers so much more than mainstream films give after viewing. If you look for films that will offer more than just a two hour cheap thrill ride and then never thought of again; a real beautiful, and meditative journey, that includes you along, and inspires you to look around and beyond life, so memorable, and intelligent then you really should see this film any way you can. Anyone disturbed by high concepts, intelligent scripts, and slow pacing, stay far away, as you will be bored to tears. 5 stars. I loved it.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My god this guy is amazing, September 26, 2001
J-nutz brastad (Bellingham, WA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Stalker [VHS] (VHS Tape)
When I slipped Andrei Tarkovsky's "Stalker" into my VCR I just layed back, openned up a bag of chips, and began contemplating the useless, insignificant quote left by some small time critic on the box: 'this film is the Slavic equvilant to David Lynch's "Eraserhead" (Who like that's a good comparison).'
But then, instead of turning out like some third-rate American make-no-sense paranoia noir, Tarkovsky's achievment is so ingenious, so visual, so relative, and so downright different that I was just blown away.
The film begins in stark black, white and brown colors. The look is so bleak that it looks faded and unfocused. Tarkovsky introduces us to a man desperate for color and beauty in a society that depraves him of such things. The smoke, rain and mud seem to forbid him to leave his home just as much as his own wife does. With this scene alone Tarkovsky has painted a finer picture of communist Russia than every film combined that has ever tried to capture the country's atmosphere and spirit (I'm largely speaking of American movies).
I could go on and on about this film, but I can't. I can't describe what you see, feel, and how it purminates in the mind. It goes so beyond anything that English or American 'Ambitious' epic films present. Films like "Apocalyse Now" and "Lawrence of Arabia" have a surface, but rarely a living indivualized heart underneath.
This is my first Tarkovsky film, and after watching just one, I have contemplated he is just as brilliant and highly cinema-vocabularic as Bergman, Godard, Ozu and Herzog (at his prime). After witnessing Tarkovsky's work, I have a newfound interest in Russian Cinema, and a newfound interest in Russia in general.
Watch this film, or any other Tarkovsky masterpieces, and I garuantee that the bag of chips will be just as untouched come the end as it was at the beginning.
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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than just science fiction..., February 13, 2003
"intello_2000" (Charlottesville, VA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Stalker (DVD)
Tarkovsky is by far my favorite director. Stalker was the first film I saw, and the experience was so memorable that I went on and saw all his other films. Many people have compared it to Stanley Kubrick's "2001, a space odyssey". I beg to differ. While Kubrick's film was also a masterpiece in its own respect, it was not delivering a spiritual and metaphysical message like Stalker. Many viewers tend to criticize Stalker for lack of so-called "action". In his book, "Sculpting through time", Tarkovsky explicitly states that this was indeed what he intended to do. This is about a journey to our inner soul, this side of us that is our most intimate and yet at the same time our most frightening. The Writer is of course our artistic side while the Professor would represent our logical and scientific leanings. Both of these men seem despaired because of lack of faith, only to be redeemed at the end. However, while many would believe that this film seems to give a pessimistic message about the human condition, it actually gives hope. Indeed, we can be redeemed, and that is through love and sacrifice personified by the Stalker's wife.
Now, for the visual aspects of this film. Every shot is a masterpiece, a work of art. The language and the dialogue are all beautiful and poetic.
All in all, Stalker is a philosophical masterpiece, a gem in the world of cinema.
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Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky (DVD - 2006)
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