This film is based on a SF novel by the Strugatki brothers, called "Picknick at the side of the road" (the translation might not be very accurate). In spite of the very simplistic narrative and dramatic structure (the whole action takes place only in one day and only in three locations: the stalker's home, the bar where they meet and the Zone), this is the masterpiece of Tarkovski and probably of the whole cinema ART.
You have to understand that this film is not sensational through its action, but through its metaphors and motifs. For example, the house motif, that appears in all his movies (The Sacrifice, Andrey Rubliov, Ivan's Childhood, Nostalghia etc.) also appears in Stalker, as everything that is outside the house. That means all the world that was destroyed and made hard to live in by man. Like the whole world, the stalkers home is ugly and sordid and like Rubliov he doesn't have a place to call home: "For me everywhere is a prison". Thats why he retires and finds his peace in the dangerous but alive and full of miracles space of the Zone. The Zone, sign of extraterrestrial or divine (apparently hostile) passage on earth, remains the only breathable place for man, because man hasn't reached to spoil it yet. The presence of the "wishing well" there says it all. The time in this film is as important, as in all tarkovskian art. The rhythm of the movie is given by the time that flows in it. The long frames express a relation between action and contemplation, between the meaning of that moment compared to the meaning of history. Although there are no retrospectives, the linear flow of the frames doesn't imply neither the subjective nor the objective characteristic of time. If you noticed, in the Zone they only travel in curves: "Here the shortest way is not the straight one" says the stalker to his companions. Anyway, these are few of the reasons why I think this is a masterpiece of the cinema art. For the ones that have rated this film less then "excellent" I would recommend that they see it again... and again... and again. "BUT, EVEN THEN THEY WILL NOT BELIEVE" - says the stalker at the end of his one day adventure. :) I would like to excuse myself for the spelling mistakes! (I'm from Romania :))
30 out of 43 found this helpful