Friday, July 7, 2017

Sci Fi Top 100, #15: "Stalker" (1979)

Movie Stats:
Released 1979 (Soviet Union)
Soviet, in Russian (watched with English subtitles)
Director - Andrei Tarkovsky
Stars - Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, Anatoliy Solonitsyn, Nikolay Grinko

Plot Summary:
Writer (Solonitsyn) and Professor (Grinko) hire a guide called a stalker (Kaydanovskiy) to take them into a mysterious, forbidden area called the Zone, which holds a room that purportedly grants a person’s deepest desire.

Very minor blue language; very minor violence & gore.

Bad Stuff:
I have no idea WTH I even just watched.

It takes too long to explain itself. You’re practically an hour in before you understand what the three main characters are doing. It’s another hour at least before you get to know any of them. I couldn’t stop thinking, “Why should I care about this when I don’t know who any of these people are?”

There’s a lot more telling than showing. Ex: “Oooo, it’s so dangerous here!” And then nothing remotely scary or dangerous happens.

Good Stuff:
The cinematography is amazing.

I enjoyed Kaydanovskiy’s performance.

I really like the idea that, when faced with the prospect of getting exactly what they want, most people can’t accept it and be happy. That says something pretty interesting about human nature.

The Verdict:
This felt like a cross between “Lord of the Rings” & “The Happening”: three men walking around in nature for nearly three hours, talking & arguing, and saying that it was super scary when it never seems scary at all. Sure, it had some interesting points about human nature, but by the time it was finally over, I was so bored and annoyed that it hardly seemed to matter. This was another experiment in psychological torture by Tarkovsky, as far as I’m concerned. I liked it even less than “Solaris.”

I give it 2 stars.

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