This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Benji Kaplan’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Weakness is a great thing, and strength is nothing. When a man is just born, he is weak and flexible. When he dies, he is hard and insensitive. When a tree is growing, it's tender and pliant. But when it's dry and hard, it dies. Hardness and strength are death's companions. Pliancy and weakness are expressions of the freshness of being. Because what has hardened will never win.
I connected with this quote way more on the second watch. If you think about it, all three men who go into the zone are weak. Yet, when coming to a dangerous part, they always prevail. When the Physicist is at the precipice of his mission; he is about to go through with his plan do destroy The Room, but he doesn't. He is what this quote would describe as "pliant". He accepts the stalker's pleas... well that or he realizes one or two other things: that no one can manipulate The Room to his or her own will, it will do whatever it thinks your deepest desire is, and that The Room may be a fraud in its entirety, just like the Writer's trash can.
Either way, it is the Physicist's ability to change his mind, that is so incredible. He traveled all this way, risked his life for the purpose of destroying this thing he had feared to be manipulatable by the evil, but by the end of his journey, the very end, he changes his mind.
Tarkovsky highlights this as one of the most admirable qualities one can have. I really love that.
I realize I have put little to no thought to the dog, but it is without a doubt, a very deliberate addition, so I think I must. What does the dog represent? Could be any number of things, maybe just a detail of the--in comparison to the bleak industrial city--luscious, life-filled Zone. I think the dog also represents a sort of neutrality, as it is able to get past all the so-called magic and approach The Room unscathed, and without any trouble. I think it could be that man puts up his own barriers when in fear of what he or she approaches.
Tarkovsky, once again, has sparked my mind into thought and contemplation. What more can one ask a movie to do?