Penetrating the ZONE: Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker

This is an 2009 essay by Brecht Andersch from the SFMOMA of Tarkovsky’s classic film, Stalker, one of my favorite films of all time.

Excerpt: Tarkovsky approached his work on Stalker with a fanatical devotion perhaps even leading to his death at age 54, felled by the same form of cancer which also took his wife (who acted as assistant director on Stalker) as well as Anatoli Solonitsyn, who plays the Writer. They are said to have been exposed to toxic chemicals in the evocative landscapes serving as Stalker‘s exteriors, an unfortunate legacy of the injudicious Soviet treatment of the environment.

There is now a popular game, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (Shadow of Chernobyl, and Call of Pripyat), based loosely on the film.

I’m not surprised, as the film’s darkly surreal environment and nomadic characters are quite haunting, and lend themselves to imaginative flights—not of fancy, but of speculation and existential questioning. It’s easy to see how the film can be a great inspiration to speculative and fantasy writers, as well as game creators.


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