107 of 113 people found the following review helpful
Tarkovksy's best film (along with Solaris)...,
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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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 21, 2007 10:22:14 AM PDT
Cody K. says:
Can't stress how important it is to get the edition with both soundtracks! I strongly agree that the remixed version (with the added music) is just terrible! To make things more difficult, RusCiCo repackaged the version that contains the mono soundtrack in virtually the same packaging, making it very hard to tell when buying online (especially used) which one is being offered; both are still out there. If any buyer is in doubt, I advise contacting the seller before purchasing, for confirmation that you'll be getting the one with the original mono soundtrack. This may delay your purchase, but may save you from needing to return the item once you get it.
Once you have the version with both soundtracks, compare one scene against another -- an excellent one for comparison is the trolley scene that Grigory's Girl mentions.
The two soundtracks are worlds apart.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 21, 2007 3:12:50 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 21, 2007 3:14:17 PM PDT
Cody's exactly right. Make sure you get a disc with the original mono track. The Image/RUSCICO disc does contain both soundtracks. The Kino release is the same RUSCICO/Image disc (Image must have lost the rights to Kino), so I'm assuming that it has both soundtracks. There is a strictly RUSCICO release that has only the 5.1 soundtrack. This is only available from them, so it's not in wide circulation, but be sure to check for the original mono, as the 5.1 soundtrack is an abomination of Tarkovsky's original intent.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 24, 2007 4:21:29 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Mar 24, 2007 4:22:11 PM PDT]
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 29, 2007 8:14:04 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 29, 2007 8:25:19 PM PST
I'm new to Tarkovsky --I recently purchased "1001 MOVIES TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE", and am only now discovering all these great film-makers --and I made the mistake of watching Stalker after a tiring day and when I was already half asleep. I'm sure most of the "ideas" of the film have escaped me; it is the creepy images and the 5.1 soundtrack that kept me awake. The morning after, the cinematography and the soundscape linger in my mind. I haven't tried the mono soundtrack, but I thought the 5.1 was appropriately atmospheric and quite chilling. I have a dedicated home theatre room with a big-screen projector (almost 100-inch screen) and surround sound system, and the whole experiance of watching STALKER in 5.1 in such an environment was unforgettable.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 29, 2007 8:59:43 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 29, 2007 9:00:26 PM PST
You should watch it again, and with the mono soundtrack, because when the DVD company remixed the film to 5.1, they ADDED sound and music that was not in the original version of the film. For example, the ride in the trolley car to the zone. There is no music in the original, just the sound of the tracks amplified as they get closer to the zone. The music on the 5.1 track wasn't in Tarkovsky's film.
I've read most of that 1001 Movies to See Before You Die book, and it's excellent. Many great films, and some I haven't even heard of.
Glad that you're discovering Tarkovsky....
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 29, 2008 12:31:03 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 29, 2008 1:17:23 PM PDT
Michelle S. says:
I just bought the Kino version. At first I thought it only had the 5.1 surround sound mix. As it turns out, you can change the audio to the mono soundtrack in the subtitles settings in the main menu. However, you cannot easily change from the mono to the 5.1 while watching the movie.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 29, 2008 8:36:15 PM PDT
I bought the Image/RUSCICO DVD, and you can change the audio while the film is playing.
I'm glad that you found the original mono track, as the 5.1 audio is a total distortion of Tarkovsky's intent.
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 14, 2009 1:51:54 PM PDT
David Bridges says:
I'm confused as to the differences between the Image (2002) version and the Kino version (2006).
The Image one is listed as being:
Pan & Scan , 1.33:1, Color. Subtitles: English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Swedish, Chinese, Russian, Dutch, Arabic, Japanese, Audio Track 1: Russian, Dolby Digital 5.1, Audio Track 2: Russian, Dolby Digital 1.0
The Kino one is listed as being:
Academy , 1.33:1, Color/Black and White. Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Audio Track 1: Russian, Dolby Digital 5.1, Audio Track 2: English, Unknown, Audio Track 3: French, Unknown
So is the original mono soundtrack only available on the Kino version as the dubbed-into-English one? And what's that about Pan & Scan on the Image version? I thought the movie was originally framed to be able to be cropped to the Academy format, so that pan & scan would not be necessary.
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 14, 2009 5:36:34 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 14, 2009 5:37:49 PM PDT
The Kino version should be the same as the Image version, as both are North American releases of the Russian Cinema Council version (aka RUSCICO). On the Image DVD (which I own), there are 2 soundtracks, a 5.1 remix, and the original mono soundtrack. Avoid the 5.1 remix, though. The DVD producers actually added sound to Tarkovsky's original mix, infuriating Tarkovsky fans across the globe, so on subsequent DVD releases, they put the original mono mix as an alternative.
And the film was shot in the Academy format, 1.33:1. There never was a widescreen version.
Posted on Oct 6, 2013 1:40:13 PM PDT
james ver weire says:
Great, helpful review!