All Drawings Copyright Dan Marquart

All images are hand drawn on my iPad2. All Drawings are Copyright Dan Marquart. Feel free to Right Click and save any of my Drawings to your Desktop or Hard Drive and Print them.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

iPad2 Sketch from Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker: They don't Return Here

When we reach the Zone a few different things happen. The first thing is the change to color. Actually, to be more specific, earth colors. There are many shades of green, brown and grey. There are still patches of fog, but they seem to be much more active here. Oh, look at all the webbing in the group of  trees in the center. There are a lot of webs in this film. What does that mean? Try to find them all. You'll note that as we pull up you can't see the trolley yet but you hear it come to a stop. Then we cut to the guys on the trolley. Keep your eye on Stalker. He almost seems to be rejuvenated upon arriving. Stalker's comment is very interesting: "Here we are... home at last." That's a powerful statement. What does that imply? My god, did Stalker actually smile? After asking Professor to tie the bandages to the nuts, Stalker says that he is going to take a walk because there is something he needs to do. After he leaves, Professor tells Writer a few things about Stalker: "You see becoming a Stalker is some kind of calling. His background is even more frightful. Several times in prison and then he was harmed here. He has a mutant daughter. 'A victim of the Zone' as they call it. They say she's got no legs." At this point a strange howling is heard. It almost sounds human. We now cut to a close up of some rusted metal parts almost covered in overgrowth. Andrei Tarkovsky is a master at panning the camera. This is true in all his films and especially this one. His camera panning always has purpose. Usually what he ends up panning to is unexpected and the camera movement is usually dramatic and used to build tension. Note the use of the music from the beginning of the film. I feel all this brings the film to a transitional point. The camera pans up revealing a dead bush surrounded by live ones. The top half of the bush is covered in cobwebs. The camera continues to show an open field, an old power line pole, and finally a gray building further back whose windows and entranceway almost seem to form a face. Tarkovsky's camera movement also always makes use of planes. Meaning that when he pans the camera, different parts of the scenery seem to move independently of each other adding incredible depth to his films and revealing spaces you may not have noticed yet. Did you notice that now Tarkovsky has trees everywhere, so we still can't see what's in the far distance. Ok, you have probably noticed that during this sequence, we hear some crunchy, walking through grass and brush sounds. When we cut to the next scene, we can see Stalker sitting on his knees surrounded by foliage. We can't see where he is in relationship to the previous scene. He almost seems to be in a praying position and then lies down face first onto the ground. There is an inch worm walking across his hand. We then cut back to where Professor and Writer are still discussing the Zone and it's history. After Writer says: "Some gift. Why on earth would they do it?" , Stalker reappears, almost getting decapitated by a collapsing telephone crosspiece, replying: "To make us happy."

Next Post: Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker: They don't Return Here Part 2

Friday, July 29, 2011

Andrei Tarkovsky Sketch

Andrei Tarkovsky Sketch

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker The Trolley Car Ride, or You're not in Kansas any more.

Just before Stalker, Professor, and Writer get on the trolley there is one more burst of machine gun fire. Stalker tells the others that if anyone gets hit, don't shout or rush about. If they see you, they'll kill you. He tells them to just crawl back to the outpost and  they'll get picked up in the morning. This seems like a contradiction. They will kill you now but in the morning no one will try to kill you. Ok, Stalker fires up the trolley and they are on their way. This next scene is a great meditative sequence. The last words spoken are by Writer, who wants to know if the guards can catch up to them, then Stalker, who says they fear it like the plague. And finally Writer again, who asks, "Fears what?" Which, of course, goes unanswered. There is no more dialog until they reach the Zone. Instead, the camera lingers on each character for a little bit before moving to the next character and then back again. In the background we see all the scenery  that they are driving through but most of it is hidden in a fog. As we see each character we wonder what they're thinking. Only Stalker has been here before. What must be going   through the minds of the other two? What would you be thinking? This scene is around four minutes and you have to appreciate the fact that this gives us an idea of how far it is to the Zone. It also provides a calm after the storm, a peaceful respite to the frantic jeep ride. As with everything in this movie listen to the sounds. The sound of the trolley on the tracks, as well as a few scattered train whistles, begins to distort more and more as they approach the Zone eventually becoming unrecognizable. It's an awesome effect. Remember to be listening to the original mono track while watching the movie.

Tomorrow's Post: Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker They don't Return Here

Tarkovsky Dream as Reality

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker: Do you think you should really be driving? or How I learned to stop worrying and love driving with my top off. Part 3

I like this next part. Writer is sitting in the jeep with his hands clasped together as 
if praying. He has quite a few soul-searching scenes in this movie where he tries to 
make sense of his inner torment. This reminds me of an Agony in the Garden painting. The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Did you notice that when Writer starts to 
talk, Professor walks away from him and stands on the other side of the room near 
Stalker? There are many scenes in this movie where Writer is separated from the other 
two, and he's also the one who is usually cast forefront into danger. Writer's dialog 
here is great: "Everything I told you before is a lie. I don't give a damn about 
inspiration. How would I know the right word for what I want? How would I know that 
actually I don't want what I want? Or that I actually don't want what I don't want. They 
are elusive things: the moment we name them, their meaning disappears, melts, dissolves like a jellyfish in the sun. My conscience wants vegetarianism to win over the world. And my subconscious is yearning for a piece of juicy meat. But what do I want?" These words are very significant, as is Professor's response from across the room: "World domination". In the next scene, a heavily guarded gate is opened to let that same train go through. The way the scene is shot, you think the train is coming towards you, 
because everything in the distance gets brighter and is eventually washed out in White 
light. The train is coming from behind you on the left. Hey look! It's the motorcycle 
cop. The guards check out the train inside out and underneath. There must be some kind 
of Zone hobo problem. Now we cut back next to Stalker, who grabs Professor and heads for the jeep.It's funny though, because Professor runs about halfway, then turns around and runs back towards the camera, and then turns around again and runs back toward the jeep. It reminds me of something a little kid would do.

Or one of the Three...well, you know. Maybe he was afraid of getting back in the jeep with Stalker driving. So Stalker takes off in the jeep to the left and then instantly appears behind the train going through the gate. I swear, Stalker drives the length of the cordon going sideways in the jeep, almost bashing into the chain fence on the sides. As usual, Stalker and the train drive into nothingness. We never get to see any surroundings. As Stalker veers off to the left, the guards open fire on him with machine guns. However, the trainload of Insulators is between them and Stalker, so the guards completely obliterate the insulators and coils, part of a power line, a bunch of windows, and a pile of crates. Stalker is driving backwards and smashes into a building, drives through the knocked over crates going forward again, and manages to avoid getting hit by a window that has apparently fallen from the sky. At the end of this scene, we hear screeching before we cut to the next scene where Stalker stops just short of decapitating him and his passengers. Stalker then tells Writer to go see if there is a trolley on the tracks. 

Writer asks, "what trolley?" and Stalker just says, "Go! Go!" See what I mean about 
Writer? Once again, he is sent on a perilous journey. Writer looks like Boris Karloff as he 
walks from the jeep, gets shot at, dives into a bunch of foliage, and is rescued by 
Professor who says, "I'll do it." Writer looks like Max Shreck as Nosferatu on the way 
back to the jeep. Professor then walks to go look in the building, and as he passes out 
of view the camera zooms in on the water reflection of a window opening and then machine gun fire hits the water. And while the camera is still on this, we can hear someone sloshing through water. Now we cut to the inside of this building and can see it was the sound of Professor walking to the trolley car. Once he gets there, he signals to Stalker, who pulls up with the jeep, and after some more gunfire a quick discussion 
occurs regarding Professor not needing his backpack with him. The Professor insists on bringing it, saying, "You may travel light, if you wish, as if going for a stroll."

Next Post: The Trolley Car Ride, or You're not in Kansas any more.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker: Do you think you should really be driving? or How I learned to stop worrying and love driving with my top off. Part 2

Writer gets back in the jeep and Stalker takes off but stops again because that Motorcycle Cop is down the next alley. Well, his motorcycle is. And Stalker yells at Writer for not seeing him. How could have Writer seen him!? The cop was down the street and then all the way down an alley way to the left. Stalker then takes off backwards as the cop comes into the frame and gets back on his motorcycle. Buy the way, this cop seems to be oblivious as to what's going on around him. As he drives up to us, we cut to Stalker looking around the corner. We assume he's watching the cop because we still hear the sound of the motorcycle. By the way, the jeep is facing the right way again. This isn't even the street that Stalker just backed out of when he saw the cop. So, in that few seconds, Stalker is on a different street in a different direction. I don't know where Stalker got his license, but he is one bad driver. So after seeing Stalker looking around the corner for what we think is the cop, he gets back in the jeep and takes off. Watch him. He just misses slamming into a telephone pole as he drives all the way down the street and disappears into the mist. After a few seconds, the camera slowly pans to the right and we watch a worker opening a gate because here comes that train again! As the train passes by, Stalker pulls out of a building at the left, almost careens into the side of another building and gets through the gate before the worker can close it again. Stalker has a hard time driving on railroad tracks. The worker then watches Stalker drive away, closes the gate and then starts running off. It is important to note we can hear the sound of the motorcycle cop while still watching the guy running off. And tripping by the way! I haven’t mentioned every instance of the sound from one scene running into the next one because it's fun to find them yourself! Now we cut to a scene of the cop, just driving his motorcycle around without a care in the world.

We can hear the sound of his bike at the beginning of the next scene which starts off with Stalker driving backwards into the entrance of a building and crashing into a door. I love this movie. Ok, here comes another great scene. Stalker gets out of the jeep and walks over to the other side of the room. I like how each of his footsteps sound as he walks over brittle metal and glass. We also hear a strange sound and then a train whistle in the background and then nothing. As Stalker walks out of view, an eerie music sound starts and the camera now pans to the right showing a concrete outer wall, a window with the panes broken out, a post and then Stalker standing still and listening to the sound of footsteps of someone walking and then running. Stalker seems a little unnerved. Now we cut to the railroad worker again running off after tripping. Just as we left him a few minutes ago! So, has any time passed? The worker runs off until he disappears into the fog. Is this movie awesome or what. Also, during this entire jeep ride sequence, it's always fun to watch the look on Professor's face. He looks very scared. I'm assuming from Stalker's driving.

Tomorrow's Post: Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker:  Do you think you should really be driving? or How I learned to stop worrying and love driving with my top off. Part 3

Andrei Tarkovsky Sketch

Monday, July 25, 2011

Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker: Do you think you should really be driving? or How I learned to stop worrying and love driving with my top off.

After leaving the bar the three men head to the jeep which seems to be off to the right. We don’t know because we don’t get to see them from outside the bar. You’ll notice that both Writer and Stalker trip through the puddle of water. It’s funny how they all seem to head for the passenger door. Come on now, someone has to drive! After giving the jeep the once over, Stalker manages to squeeze himself through the driver side door which isn’t easy since Professor seems to have parked it about a foot from the side of the building. They then drive toward the camera and take a left. I like how it looks when they drive between the shrubbery and the camera very quickly. It reminds me of scenes in Kurosawa’s Rashomon when the woodcutter is running through the forest. They then continue straight all the way to the end of the road, almost disappearing into the fog. Stalker stops the jeep, stands up, looks around, and then continues. We don't know which way because then the scene cuts away and now the jeep is heading towards us through an opening and then passes by us and comes to a screeching stop. Stalker tells everyone to get down. Writer and Professor duck down into their seats while Stalker actually exits the jeep and lies down flat on the ground. Interesting. In the distance, we can just make out a motorcycle tire and then the camera switches to a motorcycle officer’s view with the jeep now in the distance. It’s strange though because the motorcycle is facing the opposite way from how he just drove into the last scene. But this guy gives no indication of seeing the jeep at all. He just drives off. Stalker backs up and then turns left through an opening in another building and goes straight. So far he just keeps turning left. Now we cut to a camera view positioned inside another building’s entrance. We still can hear the jeep sound from the last scene as Stalker pulls up from the left side of the screen, stops in front of our viewpoint, and frantically shoos Writer out of the jeep and into the building telling him to see if the coast is clear and then to  meet up at the other entrance. Stalker drives away and now a train engine pulling a flatcar of giant insulators passes by the entrance too; seemingly right on Stalkers heels. Writer heads out an entrance at the right of the building as Stalker turns right from where he just was to pick up Writer. Now by all rights that train should be driving by where Stalker just turned but it doesn’t. It’s gone. It’s only been about two seconds since we saw it. Where did it go? What the hell is going on in this crazy town!?

Tomorrow's Post: Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker:  Do you think you should really be driving? or How I learned to stop worrying and love driving with my top off. Part 2

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker: Is he going with us?

We don't get to see how Stalker and Writer get to the bar. Instead, we see Stalker walk up the stairs from our vantage point inside the bar. Stalker walks right past us and now we can see Writer coming up the stairs, only he doesn’t make it. Writer trips. Once he is back on his feet, he comes in and walks past us to the table where Professor is. I like how Writer’s coat is just a mass of solid blackness. Writer walks to the bar to grab some glasses, and Stalker promptly wrangles him back the table and tells him to put his bottle away. Writer then goes back to buy some beer. I think this is probably better barroom etiquette. Writer then proceeds to down one beer while Luger is pouring the other two plus a new one for Writer. At this point Stalker proclaims that henceforth Writer will be known as Writer and Professor will be known as (yup, you guessed it) Professor. While they are bantering back and forth, take a look at Stalker. He seems extremely uncomfortable, nervous, and ill. He looks tormented inside. It’s interesting to note that during Professor and Writer’s conversation, Professor answers Writer’s questions vaguely and evasively, while Writer tends to spill his cynical guts. When Stalker asks them if they hear the train, it’s almost as if he needs assurance that he’s not hearing things. Notice how at the beginning of the scene we are really far away from the table, and at the end we are right on top of it. During this scene, Tarkovsky almost imperceptibly continuously zooms in the camera. As they get up to leave, Stalker tells Luger that if he doesn't come back to tell his wife. This prompts Writer, his whole head filling the screen, to turn and look back. No, Writer! You should NEVER look back! Writer tries to go back again because he realizes he has only one cigarette left. This time, Professor holds him back, suggesting it could be bad luck. I like how Stalker asks Professor if he took the top off the car. It just seems like a funny thing to say. And now begins the first example of Writer asking questions that no one acknowledges or ever answers. Are you really a scientist?

 Tomorrow’s post: Do you think you should really be driving? or How I learned to stop worrying and love driving with my top off.

Andrei Tarkovsky : True artistic inspiration is always a torment for the artist, almost to a point of endangering his life. -Sculpting in Time (1986)

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Writer and...I'm sorry. What was your name again?

I like how foggy it is as Stalker walks across the tracks. Tarkovsky is just not going to let us see anything, is he? We can hear Writer talking to a woman before we actually see him. I like Writer, he's my favorite character. He has a lot of soul searching to do in this film, and he also is the most vocal. All three main characters have lost hope in this world, although in three very different ways. Writer bares his soul in this movie, and in a great scene later he is reduced to tears because of the frustration in his life. Anatoly Solonitsyn, the actor who plays Writer, gives an incredible performance in this film. Oh, and Stalker trips as he approaches Writer. There is a lot of tripping in Tarkovsky's films. Usually this signals that something important may happen to a character. Sometimes, it means nothing but it's interesting. Watch for trips.

Writer must not be doing too bad for himself. That is a nice car and a nice lady in a mink coat. But hey, what is in that white bag he has? He carries it throughout the entire film, and it's not for putting his liquor bottle in either. That goes in his coat. And he doesn't have cigarettes in there either. He's almost out. Writer is talking to this woman about how boring this world is. Everything is by the numbers and governed by scientific rules. There can't be a God or a Bermuda Triangle or even a Zone, but he is still going there! He thinks the world is hopeless and maybe he needs to find some inspiration. When Stalker does walk up, we hear his footsteps as Writer is talking. He doesn't look very happy to see Writer drinking or that he has a woman with him. It's a little confusing because Writer says to the woman, "Goodbye my dear friend", but then tells Stalker that she is going to the Zone with them. He then tries to tell Stalker her name but can't remember it! Stalker looks like he wants to go back home. He more or less tells her to take off, which she does, after calling Stalker a cretin, squealing the car tires, and driving away with Writer's hat still on the hood. Writer reacts with a great gesture that indicates losing his hat. Stalker then says he's disappointed that Writer is drinking already, Writer makes a few excuses, and then it's off to the bar!

Next post tomorrow : Is he going with us?...

A Stalker's best friend

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Morning at Stalker's House Part 2: The confrontation!

The next scene is already disorienting. Stalker walks off right to the kitchen, but then it seems like he walked straight into the kitchen from the bedroom. He keeps looking back to see if his wife is awake, so he must be able to see through the bedroom doors, so he must be looking right into it. And, as usual, he also seems like he keeps looking back at us! I love all the sounds in here: the sound of the dishes, the water faucet handle being turned, and the lighting of the gas burner. I like the fact that Stalker brushes his teeth. I think it's an interesting detail. More movies should have this. Ut oh, it looks like the wife's up! She announces her presence by turning on the overhead light, which subsequently flares up and then burns out. If you pause the DVD just at the moment the light flares up the brightest, you get to see everything in the kitchen you couldn’t see before. Look around, it's interesting. Once again, it seems like the wife is yelling right at us! She is mad at Stalker because he's going out again and it appears that he's recently been in jail awhile but is now out and his daughter is getting used to him again, so the wife is afraid of this repeating itself. I think it's interesting that Stalker brushes his teeth and then eats. Kind of backwards. By the way I’m not going to write down every complete conversation in the movie. I'm just summarizing them so that when you watch the movie there will be all kinds of dialog you haven’t heard before and this will keep things interesting.

Now comes a classic shot of two conflicted characters each facing a different direction as they argue. Almost all the scenes in this movie have the main characters dead center on the screen. Usually it's all three of them, like a trinity. When the wife tells Stalker he has been promised normal HUMAN work, what is she implying? Is he NOT human? Is he from another planet? Don't let this scene fool you. Stalker's wife loves him, and we learn later on that she's his anchor, in my opinion. See Stalker's patch of white hair? There are a few other Tarkovsky movies in which the main character has a white patch in his hair. Interesting. Ah, here we have the first reference to the Zone! What is it? Is it real? Is it all in your head, or a symbol of something else? Or maybe it just is what it is. Okay, here's one of my favorite scenes already! When Stalker says "Oh God, for me it's prison everywhere!" he breaks away from his wife’s grip and walks to the bedroom and grabs his coat. When he walks in, you see the little girl, Monkey, still sleeping. When he walks back out, look, she's sitting bolt upright in bed. It's a very eerie moment and takes place in a split second! After Stalker leaves, his wife throws herself down on the floor and begins writhing as if possessed, then we hear a train on tracks, some music, and then what sounds like fighter aircraft flying around. This last scene is linked to the next one. We can hear the train that Stalker passes by while the wife is on the floor, and we can hear the faint sound of the airplanes as Stalker walks across the tracks.

Next post tomorrow : The Writer and...I'm sorry. What was your name again?

Stalker's daughter sleeping. From Andrei Tarkovsky's film Stalker

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker: Morning at Stalker's house Part 1

After reading the quote, we are once again placed in an unfamiliar place. This time, we fade in from a very small circle and find ourselves standing in front of an entrance way with two slightly-opened swinging doors. Take a moment to notice how the floors and walls resemble the bar in the opening scene. Just before we pass through the doors, listen for the train whistle. That reminds me: the Kino DVD for this movie has a mono soundtrack, which is the original one, and a new stereo mix which adds sounds that were not there originally. Make sure you pick the mono one, as this is what Tarkovsky intended. Don't worry, the mono one sounds great. If you are curious, listen to the stereo one the next time you watch the movie. The sound in this movie is just as important as the video. Tarkovsky meant for this movie to be very tactile. All the ambient sounds are at the same levels as everything else in the soundtrack.

Once we are through the doors, we are in a bedroom. And just as we start looking around, we are abruptly placed just above a small table next to the bed. The table has a glass of water, a syringe, some cotton, an apple bitten into, crumpled paper, and a few pills on top of it. As the train goes by, the glass of water begins to move to the center of the table from the vibration. Or, at least, appears to. Now the camera pans left showing the woman (note that her eyes are shut) the child, and the man, whose eyes are open but he seems still as a statue. Now we pan back again to the table, and note that this time the woman's eyes are open. If you listen very carefully, you can just barely make out some music playing along with the rhythm of the train. Tarkovsky has commented that moving machinery rhythms sometimes will remind you of a song with similar pitch or rhythms. By the way, notice how the glass is still moving and rattling even though the train is long gone. When everything is quiet again we hear another train whistle in the distance. I feel bad for Stalker, because he's trying to sneak out of bed without making a sound, and I think we all know that's impossible. Besides, his wife is awake but he doesn't know that. The style of bed frame in this room is featured in many Tarkovsky films. Oh, and so are apples.

Stalker walks out of the frame to the right, a common move in this movie, just as the bartender did earlier. And, in neither circumstance, or any that follow, do we ever get to see what's off to the right. Actually, we do in one later scene, and it's shocking. Now comes my favorite camera move, one that Tarkovsky uses a lot in all of his films. Stalker walks off to the right, the camera lingers, and then you see the slight refocus so you know that someone is about to walk in front of the camera. Then Stalker moves into frame right in front of you and closes the swinging doors almost all the way shut, even though earlier it didn't seem like they opened any more as we passed through them. Stalker turns around tightly right before you like you’re in his way, and then walks off to the right again. Through the small opening in the doors we see his wife pop up in the bed, looking at us.

Next post tomorrow: Morning at Stalker's House Part 2: The confrontation!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker: Behind the Credits!

I love the opening of Stalker. It's as if you've just materialized into this room that doesn't look like anything you've ever seen before. Look around. The sustained, briefly-held note provides tension to add to this feeling of unfamiliarity. And then the music starts. A tar -- a six-string Middle Eastern musical instrument -- and a block flute begin a back-and-forth counter melody exchange that creates the most haunting, sad, destitute music you'll ever hear. Eduard Artemyev captures this feeling perfectly throughout the film. Then, Luger appears from the closed door and begins his preoccupation with the flickering light overhead. This is common in a Tarkovsky film, and there are a few other scenes in this film with malfunctioning lights. Watch for them! Professor seems to walk right by you and over to the bar. At one point, he and Luger seem to have a little exchange verifying that yes, indeed, that light is flickering. I like how Luger brings out a nice pitcher of water, or coffee, with a cloth over it, but when he removes the cloth to pour, his cigarette ashes are dangerously poised overhead. During the rest of the credits, Professor keeps looking up, seemingly looking right at or through you. Luger finally goes back out the door and closes it. This leaves Professor all alone as once again we fade into nothingness, just like we began. At this point, we are shown a quote from an interview with Nobel Prize winner Professor Wallace, who could or could not be the Professor in this film. Was this quote from before what happens or after?

"What was it?
A meteorite?
A visit of inhabitants
of the cosmic abyss?
One way or another,
our small country
has seen the birth of a miracle-
the Zone.
We immediately sent troops there.
They haven't come back.
Then we surrounded the Zone
with police cordons...
Perhaps, that was the right thing to
do. Though, I don't know..."

From an interview with Nobel Prize
winner, Professor Wallace.

Next post tomorrow: Morning at Stalker's House!

"The one thing that mankind has ever created in a Spirit of self-surrender is the artistic image." Andrei Tarkovsky Sculpting in Time

Friday, July 15, 2011

I am seeking a principle of montage that will allow me to expose the subjective logic-the thought, the dream, the memory-instead of the logic of the subject.

Follower Contributed Art! This watercolor scene from Tarkovsky's film Stalker was contributed by Sarah!

Russian Film: Mosfilm sends piracy down the tube

Russian Film: Mosfilm sends piracy down the tube: "Russia’s giant Mosfilm, one of the largest and oldest film studios in Europe, has teamed up with Google to launch a channel on YouTube, wher..."

Chingachgook and Leatherstockings

In Andrei Tarkovsky's film Stalker, Writer refers to Stalker as Chingachgook four separate times and also Leatherstockings two separate times. I should note that the word Stalker in Russian is defined as a Guide or a Pathfinder. It has nothing to do with the American meaning of Stalker. I had no idea what Chingachgook or Leatherstockings was referring to until I looked it up the first time I Watched Stalker. This Wikipedia article can explain it better than I can: "Chingachgook was a fictional character in four of James Fenimore Cooper's five Leatherstocking Tales, a lone Mohican chief and companion of the series' hero Natty Bumppo. Chingachgook married Wah-ta-Wah who bore him a son Uncas, but she died young. Uncas, at his birth "last of the Mohicans" grew to manhood but was killed in a battle with renegade Magua. Chingachgook dies as an old man in the novel The Pioneers and so is the actual Last of the Mohicans, having outlived his son.
Chingachgook is said to have been modeled after a real-life wandering Mahican basket maker and hunter named Captain John. The fictional character, occasionally called John Mohegan in the series, was an idealized embodiment of the traditional noble savage. The French often refer to Chingachgook as “Le Grand Serpent”, the Great Snake, because he understands the winding ways of men's nature and he can strike a sudden, deadly blow." Leatherstockings refers to the pants Chingachgook wore. So now I know  Writer refers to Stalker that way because he is their guide through the Zone and eventually to the room where your innermost desires can come true. If you have faith in yourself!

One doesn't need to explain in film, but rather to directly affect the feelings of the audience.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How I love your eyes, my friend...

Monkey 's Voiceover : A classic moment in Stalker...

How I love your eyes, my friend,
With their radiant play of fire,
When you lift them fleetingly
And like lightning in the skies
Your gaze sweeps swiftly round.

But there is charm more powerful still
In eyes downward cast
For the moment of a passionate kiss,
When through lowered eyelids glows
The sombre, dull flame of desire.

Fyodor Tyuchev, 1803-1873

All right. Go on, throw your nut.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

First Meetings

Endings and beginnings and everything in between...

I want to talk a little about endings. Don't worry though, I would never spoil the end of a Tarkovsky film for anybody! When I first saw the ending of Tarkovsky's version of Solaris (1972) I promptly put the Part One tape back into my VCR and started over again. I love that about his films. The endings make you rethink the whole film again. In particular, the ending of Stalker left me confused, baffled, dumbfounded, speechless and exhilarated. I went right back to the beginning and started over. Tarkovsky has a way of ending films with a scene that encourages you to watch from the beginning again applying what you now know to each scene. It becomes a whole new experience. Tarkovsky made seven films that were released theatrically. Some of his films were not released until years after they were finished. They needed to be approved by Russian authorities first and this was a long process which frustrated Tarkovsky to no end. But he had no choice. The cinema industry, much like any other industry, was controlled by the Soviet state. Goskino USSR (the State Committee on Cinema) was owned and controlled by the Soviet government and the Communist Party.

I started this Blog for myself to write down and organize all my miscellaneous notes, observations, questions and revelations I have accumulated over the last couple years while Watching Stalker into a coherent, chronological shot by shot analysis (But I think we all know that is never going to happen). Stalker was based on the book Roadside Picnic by the brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. It's a great book, and I've read it many times, but Tarkovsky continuously rewrote the screenplay so many times that he more or less made the final draft his own much to the exasperation of the Strugatsky Brothers. The final film is so far removed from the original story that I am not going to compare the book to the movie. I also won't be discussing the production or Tarkovsky's personal life, which is fascinating in itself. I just want to focus on the story in the film and the incredible Directing style of Andrei Tarkovsky. I also can only comment from the best translations available to me. I don't speak Russian so that is the best I can do as far as the script is concerned. Luckily, the visuals in the film need no translation and the viewer can experience them and their affect on a personal level. My purpose here is not to give answers. There are none. Only questions. I want to encourage anyone who reads this and finds it interesting, to watch the film and share your ideas, questions, observations and interpretations. This is a great film and remember that everything I talk about is just my opinion and point of view. I'm no expert. I am not trying to interpret this film for anyone but myself. Actually "interpret" is the wrong word. Maybe just my understanding or not understanding the events in the film and how, and why, it has such a hold on me personally. I'm just an average guy who thinks this movie is incredible. I hope you will too.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Everything that's going on here depends not on the Zone, but on us!

Visuals and Sound : Bringing it all together...

In the opening shots of Stalker, during the credits, you find yourself just inside the entrance of a very bleak-looking bar. These dark sepia tones will become familiar to you, as they are used in many scenes throughout the film. Also, right from the beginning you never really know where you are. Get used to it. If the main characters are inside a building or house, rest assured that you will never see the outside of it or how they entered or left it. All the windows and glass doors in this movie are dirty or grimy and allow very little to be seen through them. We know Stalker leaves his house in the beginning and meets up with Writer. You just never see him coming out the door. We know Stalker and Writer walk to the bar, but we only see them from inside as they walk in through the door. Despite this, however, this film is extremely linear! How is this possible, you ask? I've got one word for you: sound. Every scene in this movie is either linked with the one before it or the one after it with sound. As Stalker walks through the train yard, we still hear his wife's agonized cries. Stalker hears Writer talking with his female friend before we see them. Writer can hear Stalker's footsteps before we see him actually come into frame. And on and on. Every time I watch this film, I notice something I have not seen before, or I will decide to interpret a scene differently than I did in previous viewings. This film is so rich metaphorically, not to mention religiously and philosophically, that each viewing can feel like seeing it for the first time.

Rambling on about Stalker

Stalker (1979) is my favorite film by director Andrei Tarkovsky. I have watched this film so many times that I no longer need to have subtitles. I know every line by heart. This is good, because watching it without subtitles is like watching it for the first time. You get to see the whole screen, and your eyes are no longer diverted to the bottom of the screen. Wow, what a difference! This is a visually stunning film as far as I'm concerned. Film as art. I see this film as a painting on the move. Sepia to black and white to color and back again. The textures on every wall, floor, ceiling, and even clothing are rich, interesting and varied. Wind, earth, fire, and, of course, water. Everywhere. By the way, my purpose here is just to share what Tarkovsky's films mean to me and how they have inspired me literally, artistically, and philosophically.

Just a few first thoughts...

Film as art. Three simple words. And yet this idea, in the hands of film director Andrei Tarkovsky, has resulted in some of the most complex and visually stunning films I have ever seen. Stalker (1979) and Mirror (1975) are my personal favorites. These films can be difficult for first time viewers. They were (and still are) for me. But I love them. I watch them all the time. One of the biggest hurdles is that they are in the Russian language. There are many different prints of all his films with various subtitle translations; some good, some bad. Something is always lost in translation. Tarkovsky himself did not believe in translations, especially of Russian poetry, which he uses a lot in his films. Most of it is by his father, Arseny Tarkovsky. To understand his films, Mirror for example, Tarkovsky felt that you needed Russian roots, to have experienced the Russian way of life and its history. And he was right. The first time I saw Mirror I had no clue what was going on. This movie parallels the narrator's childhood interwoven with his present life as well as the historical events relative to specific scenes. All this prompted me to learn everything I could about Andrei Tarkovsky and Russian history. This has been very rewarding to me, and I hope to encourage other people to see his films. Give them a try. You will be glad you did!

Tarkovsky commenting on actor Erland Josephson's intuitive acting skills during an interview

Listening to Tonino Guerra reading a poem he had written for Tarkovsky

Looking at a book of paintings while in Italy. Ivan's Childhood, Mirror and Sacrifice have scenes of someone browsing through books of paintings.