The poetic that lies in this director’s work redefine the merits of cinematic language.
Stalker: A sublime temporal sculpture by Tarkovsky, in filmic manifestations of the sacred space /
Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986) comes from an extensive lineage of Russian filmmakers that from the origins of the celluloid began researching the different possibilities of visual narrative. The vans/labs operated by respected creators like Dziga Vertov, who filmed around the USSR with an iron commitment, and devoted a great part of their lives to revealing the device’s mysteries, and to manipulating with ease, their creative possibilities. The director of Andrei Ruvliev, Solaris and Nostalgia knew exactly how to advantageously exploit those filmic precedents, constructing a very particular form of temporary sculpture.
Tarkovsky’s films are deeply spiritual and philosophical, —we are not participating in a superfluous form of entertainment when we activate the dream machine of some of his films. The complete mastery over the technical secrete of his trade could not be if it weren’t for his gifted poet skills, a trait that sets him and his work, apart. The last film he made in Russia, is a magnanimous work of fiction, the script is based on the work of the brothers, Arkadi and Boris Strugatski, Roadside Picnic.
The film is parabolic to what is narrated in the book. The two brothers and the director wrote the script, shortened the argument but not its depth. Despite the impasses the production experienced, the final result is the most complete, eloquent and profound of pieces. It narrates the pilgrimage of three characters: the writer, the scientist and Stalker, who are making their way to a mysterious and forbidden area known as “the zone”, which became an indomitable space after the fall of a meteorite. The consequences of the historical collision in the demolished world is whispered by all its inhabitants: within the zone there is a room capable of making any wish come true.
The long and cadent paneos delve deeply into the mystery of the sacred space; time and space are ignorant of the rules of physics and are instead follow unknown terms after transgressing the final limits that divides the zone from the rest of the world. Stalker performs a series of rituals to organise the place and to avoid getting lost in that labyrinthine place (he ties screws to pieces of paper and throws them), a mimesis of the meteorite, iron celestial material that falls, a cosmic process that guarantees the safety of transit in the area.
Mircea Eliade, the renowned historian, says in his work Forgerons et alchimistes, (The Forge and the Crucible):
We must emphasise in this initial religious valorisation of aerolites: they fall on the earth charged with celestial sacredness; as a result, they represent the sky. It is probable that the cult of so many meteorites comes from there or perhaps from their identification with divinity: we can see in them the “original form”, the immediate manifestation of divinity.
The zone is then a land of hierophanies, where the sacred reveals itself and transforms the visitors. Stalker, both in the book and in the film is a being moved by the depth of the zone, forever touched by its constant brushing against divinity. “Any place is a jail for me”, Stalker says to his wife, as a way to clarify his situation after she asks him to stop going to the Zone.
Water is the quintessential temporal element: oneiric and related to personal discovery and daydreams of the unknown. For Tarkovski, the zone is an aquatic entity, which poetises with its visuals and musicality the sacred moment; it sculpts time with its uncontainable sonorous flow. In this architecture of final scenes, the zenith, where dreams can be conceded, elements coexists to foretell a dual feminine/masculine deity of meteorites, relating them to weapon construction: “The primitives worked the meteoric iron for a long time before learning to use terrestrial iron materials”.
The final scene is possibly Stalker’s desire (perhaps, this is his deepest dream also): to practice magic by disappearing the physical rules that govern the world, a magic that would happen beyond the big screen and that of spectacle, becoming simply a quotidian act, the certainty that something else exists, a divine plan we can have access to.
Andrei Tarkovsky, cinema, filmmakers, sacred art