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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!


  1. interesting post.

    do you know if that's a true quotation from a true interview?

    or was it just invented by Tarkovsky?


  2. as for the movie, I agree that the opening sequence is beautifully done, and the quotation (being true or false) closes it w/ an interesting touch of mystery.

  3. Hi Frank,
    The opening quotation is based on the two and a half page first chapter in the novel ROADSIDE PICNIC by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. This novel was the basis for the film by Tarkovsky. The Strugatsky brothers are credited with the screenplay even though Tarkovsky's rewrite ended up bearing little resemblance to the original story ( much to the chagrin of the Strugatsky brothers. ) The novel opens with the line: FROM AN INTERVIEW BY A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT FROM

    Thanks for asking about my post and I will always answer any questions you have. Sincerely Dan Marquart.