Steve Moyle’s review published on Letterboxd:
Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker from 1979 is based on Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's (Roadside Picnic Sci-Fi novel). It's very much a Drama/Mystery & Suspense with a Sci-Fi setting, surely a long film but even though it runs close to three hours there was no point where my interest faded. I guess it will either grip you right away or it wont and for me I just couldn't look away. The three main characters all really stick out as their unique own and every line of dialogue is just so poetic, making it one of my favourite screenplays in all films and it has some of the most in-depth and fascinating performances.
So a meteorite had hit the earth and three men, one a Stalker (A person tasked to bring people to The Zone), one a Professor and the other a Writer Investigate this wasteland. It is believed that ones wishes can be granted at the Zone in a mystical place called (The Room). The Russian Government have tried to make sure that no one can get as far as the Room, with armed men and traps along the roads. The characters are taken on a spiritual journey and Tarkovsky really made his film into a hypnotic experience through rich symbolism and complex storytelling, a lot of themes are explored and it could mean something different to each viewer as there are more questions then answers which just makes it more fascinating to keep coming back to.
The meaning of life, and the worthlessness of it all plus the question of religion's role in our world are definitely at display but there is no simple way of explaining it. Tarkovsky mainly uses long shots and close-ups here and it works to powerful affect, very steady smooth camerawork which just consistently brings beautiful images that will remain with you forever. The music that was used suited the atmosphere, appropriately haunting and only used in the right spots, the sound design in general is just fantastic. I was constantly engaged and stunned by the visuals which are always inventive and beautiful even when the world we are in here is anything but. I've now seen all seven of Tarkovsky's feature films and Stalker probably has the best cinematography.
I loved the ending it made my brain explode and is bound to stay engraved within my head, for i'm guessing the rest of my life. I also didn't even mention the Stalkers wife and daughter who both serve as very important characters, the Stalkers wife at first tries to stop the Stalker from going back to the Zone in a powerful start and adds deeply to the powerful ending, I'll let you see the importance of the character of his daughter for yourself. I feel like it was very personal towards Tarkovsky, it just came across that way, it's a very spiritual and hypnotic experience and it will stick with you for a long time.