Jake Sulpice



Watched on

Knowing about the critical acclaim of Stalker before diving into it, I expected something jaw-dropping and breathtakingly astounding. Instead, the film enveloped me in its metaphysical world, challenging me to put aside my presumptions and genuinely meditate on themes like faith, selfishness, and the intricacies of human nature concerning one’s true desires and beliefs. Though the finale was not as exhilarating as assumed, it left an impression on me far more significant than any other possible direct outcome would have.

The Stalker, Writer, and Professor enter the Zone.

Among other underlying messages, my main interpretation of the conclusion is that one cannot legitimately know their innermost desires, only those we romanticize and project onto our consciousness in an attempt to view ourselves in a more ideal way. As with Porcupine, who wished for the return of his brother who fell victim to the Zone yet was gifted incomprehensible riches, our deepest desires are not that of true selflessness but those of egocentric cravings that we subconsciously anticipate will cure our suffering.

The Zone wants to be respected. Otherwise, it will punish.

Another critical takeaway is the contrast between the Zone and the outside world, a reflection of Soviet stagnation juxtaposed with the abundant prosperity on the other side of the political spectrum. Within the city, sepia tones reveal a society plagued by decay and lifelessness, an almost post-apocalyptic civilization surrounded by chemical waste and desperation. The Zone is a utopia mirroring reality’s purgatory, offering hope to the impossibly hopeless.

The Stalker and Professor stand in the room with rolling piles of sand.

Stalker is my first of Tarkovsky’s work and will not be my last. The film did not meet expectations; it blew them out of the water with a 20-kiloton bomb and forced me to reflect on it as a meticulously crafted art rather than a movie viewed solely for entertainment. I acknowledge and appreciate Tarkovsky’s genius, and I only regret not having enough time tonight to watch another one of his projects.

Hardness and strength are death’s companions.
Pliancy and weakness are expressions of the freshness of being.
Because what has hardened will never win.