Just seven. Seven features over twenty-four years. That’s the sum of Andrei Tarkovsky’s output. Each one is a starkly entrancing masterpiece, evidencing a unique metaphysical vision. They’re about as far from easy films as you can get. They’re rich, nuanced and spare, and hugely influential in an oblique way. Art house giants like Lars von Trier and Terrence Malick owe a tremendous debt to Tarkovsky, and the existential science fiction of films like Stalker and Solaris casts a long, looming shadow into the present day.
Once again, we’re hugely honoured to have Canadian film critic, television and radio personality and author Richard Crouse join us, this time as part of Apocalypse November. Richard, whose great new book Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of The Devils is available from our good friends at ECW Press, chose to highlight the Andrei Tartovsky film Stalker. In a sad coincidence, just a few days after writing this piece we found out that, Boris Strugatsky, co-writer of the original story which became Stalker, had passed away at the age of 79. We post this in his memory.
“The Zone wants to be respected. Otherwise it will punish.” — Stalker (Alexandr Kajdanovsky) in Stalker: A Film by Andrei Tartovsky.
Patience, we were all told as a child, is a virtue. It’s a virtue that will stand you in good stead while watching the sprawling 163 minutes of Stalker (Russian title: Сталкер), a punishing but fascinating Russian art sci-fi film.