mike@projection-booth.com mike@projection-booth.com

January 31, 2017

Episode 308: Stalker (1979)

Special Guest: Geoff Dyer
Guest Co-Hosts: Elric Kane. Joe Yanick

Andrei Tarkovsky 's Stalker / Сталкер (1979) is a deceptively simple film about three men who venture into the verdant and mystical "Zone" in search of a room where their innermost desires will come true. Based loosely on Roadside Picnic by Boris and , the film becomes a meditative experience about art, religion, and logic.

Elric Kane and Joe Yanick join Mike to discuss this unusual "science fiction" film.

Listen/Download Now:

Buy Stalker on DVD
Buy Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky and Boris Strugatsky
Buy Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room by Geoff Dyer
Buy Roadside Picnic, read by Robert Forster
Read a script analysis of Stalker
Read a transcript of Stalker
Read Andrei Tarkovsky, Solaris and Stalker: The making of two inner-space odysseys by Stephen Dalton
Read A Unique Perspective On The Making Of 'Stalker': The Testimony Of A Mechanic Toiling Away Under Tarkovsky's Guidance from Cinephilia and Beyond
Andrei Tarkovsky: The Essential Documentaries on Russian Master from Cinephilia and Beyond
Visit the official Geoff Dyer website
Read Danger! High-radiation arthouse! by Geoff Dyer

Stalker Soundtrack - Eduard Artemyev
"Stalker (For Andrei Tarkovsky)" - Alva Noto



  1. A great choice of film to discuss.

    Andrei Tarkovsky, such a singular cinematic visionary. Back in the early 2000s he was the featured director of the month on TCM. All seven of his films were shown. I only missed a couple. Ah, the times when I would devote a whole night to watching art movies. I wish I was so adventurous and enterprising now.

    While The Mirror remains my favorite, the expressiveness of the imagery of Stalker left a significant impression on me. I remember the sequence of the three characters laying down by a stream. The otherworldly mood of that scene I have not encountered in any other film. The Stalker's monologue (I cannot think of a better word) about faith at the end of the film stunned me. It is not the sort of topic one expects to hear broached in a Soviet film.

    Ivan's Childhood, The Mirror, and Stalker are great films. Definitely seek them out.

    A Longtime Listener

  2. New remaster and this episode of The Projection Booth finally pushed me to watch Stalker. I've been postponing it for a long time.

    Your description of watching it for the first time was close to mine. It feels like a thriller, you don't know how far it will go with depiction of Zone's might. It wasn't hard or sleep-inducing to watch at all, but that's partly because I'm Russian, so it's easier to perceive.

    The Zone is shifting space and time. The Writer was stopped with his own voice then shifted to the place he looked back at Stalker and Professor and after that he turned back.

    The place at the beginning of part 2, they pass through it three times. The second time it doesn't even look the same, waterfalls are running in the back, it is The Dry Tunnel, still knapsack is laying there but not the way it was left.
    The way Writer wake up leaning head on Professor after their previous dispute and the way these scene transition into the next. It seems like they just wake up at the start of part 2 again.

    Two skeletons in the passage could be the Professor and his wife if he went in the Room. Skeleton had a wedding ring and we just prominently saw one on Professor while he spoke on the phone. Also he is the one who looked at them.

    I stick to the Writer's assumptions on the Porcupine's story. He sacrificed his brother for money, repented, tried to bring him back with the Room, realized how it works, hanged himself.

    The black dog for me is an embodiment, an envoy of the Zone. Zone finally talking back to the Stalker.

    I don't think there is any uncertainty about Marta's powers. It is not train that move glasses on by one in different directions in the end. The glass in the beginning that could be a train. May be I am stretching it here, but it seemed to me that's how she uncovered her power and that she continues shaking the table after the train is gone.

  3. I loved this episode. I really admire Solaris and I watched my Criterion Blu Ray three times in 2016. As always, the panel offered an insightful interpretative analysis of Stalker.

    All of Tarkovsky's movies are available for free viewing on the Open Culture web site. The link to Stalker follows:


  4. Regarding Mike's comment about the two main characters in the movie and in the novel: I don't recall them being that different. On the contrary, I always imagined the Stalker in the movie being a slightly older version of Red in the novel.