Gregory Wolfe on Tarkovsky’s “Stalker”… and Image.

I haven’t seen Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker. That’s something I must rectify soon, especially since Tarkovsky’s Mirror, Andrei Rublev, and The Sacrifice are among the most memorable films I’ve seen in the last two decades.

Here’s Gregory Wolfe reflecting on Stalker, and what it has to do with his ongoing work with Image journal.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.

  • http://chasingpictures.blogspot.com John Owen

    Stalker is my favorite movie.

    There’s a great webpage devoted to Stalker that you should check out after watching it: http://www.ucalgary.ca/~tstronds/nostalghia.com/TheTopics/Stalker/stalker_links.html

    There are a few great interviews with Tarkovsky related to Stalker that are available to read. In one interview, Tarkovsky begins talking about Stalker indirectly, by speaking of Bergman’s Cries and Whispers.

    Quote:
    “There is a scene in Ingmar Bergman’s film Cries and Whispers that frequently comes to my mind. Two sisters visit the family home where the third sister lies dying, and when they are left alone they are suddenly overcome by feelings of closeness, this human need to be together that they have never suspected in themselves. And suddenly there arises a shocking feeling of awakening humanity, the more moving as such moments are rare in Bergman’s films, they go by very quickly. The characters in his films search for human contact yet they cannot find it. Also in Cries and Whispers the sisters are unable to forgive one another, they cannot reconcile even when facing the death of one of them. But the more they torture themselves and the more they hate, the more meaningful and more striking the impression made by the scene of their spiritual elation is. In addition, Bergman makes us listen to a cello suite by Bach in that scene. This adds remarkable depth and richness to everything shown on screen. It forces us to believe in the director’s will to express explicitly this positive element which is usually barely audible in his austere and bitter films. Thanks to Bach and giving up the dialogue a certain vacuum appears in this scene, an empty space which the viewer can fill in, can feel a breath of the ideal. For Bergman this is probably a sign of what is impossible. But if the viewer nevertheless feels supported in his hope, a possibility for catharsis and then spiritual purification opens before him. This spiritual liberation whose awakening is art’s vocation. Art embodies yearning for the ideal. It ought to awaken hope and faith in man. Even if the world the artist is speaking of leaves no room for hope. I’ll say even more: the gloomier the world shown on screen, the brighter the ideal lying at the foundation of director’s creative concept should become; the more clearly a possibility to lift oneself to a higher spiritual plane should open before the viewer.”


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