Geoff Dyer on the Miracle of Stalker

Inside Criterion / Sneak Peeks — Jul 21, 2017

Nearly four decades after its initial release, Andrei Tarkovsky’s final Soviet feature, Stalker, remains one of the visionary director’s most enigmatic and ambitious works. Loosely adapted from Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s science-fiction novel Roadside Panic, this metaphysical epic follows a hired guide as he leads a writer and a professor through the postapocalyptic wasteland of the Zone. Through a series of long, disquieting passages, Tarkovsky meditates on his abiding themes of political and spiritual anguish, translating the mysteries of human consciousness into some of the most visually arresting set pieces of his career. Though the film has no shortage of astonishing tableaux, one of its most hypnotic moments is a deceptively simple tracking shot that focuses on the weathered faces of its three main characters. On our newly released edition of the film, Tarkovsky devotee Geoff Dyer—whose book Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room is an audacious riff on Stalker—discusses the visual and sonic elements woven through this sequence and the revelatory moment of transition that never fails to surprise him.