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Andrei Tarkovsky

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Reply #46 on: January 29, 2018, 01:59:36 PM
Excerpt from The Poetry of Decay: Andrei Tarkovsky’s Newly Remastered Stalker
at Riot Material magazine: http://www.riotmaterial.com/the-poetry-of-decay-andrei-tarkovsky-remastered-stalker/

by Alci Rengifo

The year has begun with the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists — those rational soothsayers of the global landscape — moving their infamous Doomsday Clock closer to midnight by thirty seconds. As it stands according to the clock, we are but two minutes away from cataclysm. If we are to approach it in messianic terms, we are living two minutes away from apocalypse. Desolation now haunts our daydreams and nightmares, even if the Doomsday Clock adjustment goes unnoticed by the wider populace still marching to the rhythm of a modern world. But the sense of upcoming cataclysm seeps into our pop consciousness, as personified by the sudden rise of dystopian television, young adult and adult fiction, and the return to political discourse of words associated with futuristic struggle (#resistance).

But what would desolation truly look like? Would the collapse of civilization be a scream or a whimper? The Criterion Collection has recently released a beautifully remastered edition of 1979’s Stalker, one of the great cinematic meditations on decay of both nature and the soul, by the great Soviet director Andrei Tarkovsky. It is set in a quietly apocalyptic future, where cloudy skies hover over landscapes of woods and entangled metal, muddy streams and darkened waters. Its power is unnerving but delivered like a whisper. A poet of the lens, Tarkovsky wishes to immerse the viewer in an environment, instead of appealing to the senses with violence or action. Stalker is about personalities inhabiting a destroyed world. How everything was obliterated is left to the viewer to ponder, but knowing our species we can easily imagine for ourselves countless scenarios.

Based on the novel Roadside Picnic,  by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, the film centers on a rugged man known as a “Stalker,” played by Aleksandr Kaidanovsky, who hires himself out to a Writer (Anatoli Solonitsyn) and a Professor (Nikolai Grinko) to trek into a forbidden area known as “the Zone.” In the tradition of classic science fiction, we are only given glimpses via narrative as to how this Zone came to be. It could have been a meteorite crash. Government forces have closed it off, but the Stalker is adept at smuggling the curious across. The aim of the journey is to find a mysterious space called “The Room,” which is said to grant anyone their deepest desires. It is almost a poetic allegory for our insistence on magical thinking even amid catastrophe, or the seeking of magic as deliverance from a world coming apart. If the original novel was more of a standard science fiction journey, Tarkovsky takes the material and transforms it into a serene experience where below the calm there is subdued chaos.

Read the entire article at Riot Material: http://www.riotmaterial.com/the-poetry-of-decay-andrei-tarkovsky-remastered-stalker/