Friday, November 11, 2011

Сталкер 1979

Zig, Zaq, Zoop! I'm writing again. What are the chances? Basically I got into college, I'm now in college, and I just saw a science fiction movie. Might as well write.


Tonight's special was shown on 16mm format in the MCM department. Assuming you can't read the Cyrillic title, the movie was Stalker, by Andrei Tarkovsky. It was glorious in that long, dragged out Eastern European way. Read the wikipedia if you want a summary cause I'll be going straight to my own thoughts and interpretations.

So basically, the overall sci-fi theme was the trinity of science, art, and spirit. The novum was a strange alien aura that haunted a manor in the middle of some Russian country. I really enjoy the simplicity of the plot: get to the Zone, which fulfills at least 2 hours of the movie.

One of my current theories is that any long form art has the ability to push and push and idea into your head then create a surprise that just stuns you (see my analysis of the Oasis in Fallout 3). Anyway, this idea was beautifully done by having a telephone suddenly ring once the hapless trio finally got to the mansion. It was hilarious and completely shattered the world to a point of absurdity which is healthy for a movie to not take itself to seriously.

I really like the decrepit, rusting Russian countryside where concrete melds with weeds. Tank ruins, flooded tiles, chemistry flasks floating in rancid water, a random room with small sand dooms, the "meat grinder" pipe hallway, it was all intense and gripping as a truly unnatural form of human creation slowly decaying. It makes me respect Half-Life 2 even more for capturing the same Eastern European vibe.

I overheard some other audience members say "oh that was totally an acid trip" which just bugs me. Drugs are not the end all for creativity in movies. Instead, the plot followed the guide archetype where only one person has knowledge of where to go (kind of like Gollum) and as a result his chooses the path most significant to himself. The reason this "trek" theme works so well is because it dominates the majority of the movie. We only know the characters by title: Stalker, Professor, and Writer. Nothing gets in the way for this drive to enter the Room.

The characters have quite powerful archetypes. The stalker lives for the journey, the Professor wants a reason, and the Writer is looking for a muse. The Zone and furthermore the Room reminds me of the Colour Out of Space by Lovecraft yet much more impressive. I like never fully understanding the alien presence and yet between the black dog, the unnatural sand dunes I mentioned, and the weird rain scene of the room, there is clearly a force at work.

The best irony was that the audience were the only ones to enter the room as all the characters don't want to in the end. I was thoroughly amused when the Prof (or Writer?) was just throwing stones into the room's shallow pool like some bored child. Here is the most powerful, unexplained alien presence on Earth and after deciding not to destroy it, the intellectual, the artist, great producers of civilization, don't even want a part in it.