Corrierino Consensus Project: Stalker

7 01 2013
The users of The Corrierino forums have recently compiled a consensus list of the best films ever made. Once the votes were tallied, calls for write-ups began and I signed up to pen a few. I will post my entries here as they’re revealed in the relevant thread
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Stalker is a film of silence. And, yet, it’s full of dialogue. Indeed, a common criticism of it targets the far-too-frequent conversations maintained by the three protagonists: Writer, Scientist, and the eponymous Stalker, guide and self-defined believer who leads curious souls into a mysterious Room – where wishes are fulfilled – stranded in the middle of an off-limits Zone, created by an undefined series of events, perhaps a radioactive disaster or an alien visitation. Chitchat notwithstanding, the movie that exists in the memory of the viewer is silent, a film of soothing, enigmatic, oneiric contemplation. Even the dialogue seems to rumble like a private thought, like a Malickian internal monologue. The Zone constantly hints at some deadly supernatural force, and this is conveyed by the images it has inspired in moviegoers and advertisement agencies alike. A well-known promotional poster for Stalker, quite hilariously, suggests that the heroes are chased around by gigantic cats. Another promotional image, used for the DVD cover, shows Stalker’s head blowing into a thousand pieces as he screams in Edvard Munch-like horror. But, for all the physical danger promised by the Zone, its only visible effect on those who enter is to force a confrontation with their souls. Like the island in L’avventura, the material Zone doubles as a metaphysical alternate reality, a virtual landscape which, though apparently composed of grass and abandoned instruments of warfare, is really built by ideas and fears, a cloud of introspection. Which is why the talk in Stalker is recalled by the viewer – or, at least, this viewer – as silence. We can almost picture these dialogues happening in a dream, murmured echoes of telepathic transmission. Writer, Scientist, and Stalker travel the empty nature of the Zone, but their real journey is inwards.
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