Andrei Tarkovsky on Stalker
avec Andrei Tarkovski (sur "Stalker") with Aldo Tassone
in "Positif", Oct. 1981 (247) pp. 2326. Pol. trans.
Stalker does not enter the Room, that wouldn't be proper, that is not
his role. It would be against his principles. Also, if all this is
indeed a fruit of his imagination then he does not enter
because he knows no wishes are going to be granted there.
For him it is important that the other two believe in the Room's
power and that they go inside. Stalker has
a need to find people who believe in something in the world in
which no one believes in anything. Why doesn't Writer enter the Room?
This is something we don't know and neither does he. Nor where
he is going and what he is searching for. We know Writer is
without a doubt a talented man but he is already burnt out. He
currently writes what is demanded of him, what critics, publishers,
readers expect from him. In fact he is a popular writer. But he
does not want to prolong this situation. In the first part of the
film he seems to think that after entering the Room he would perhaps
write better, he would again become himself and he would find
relief from the burden he is carrying within himself. Later his
thinking changes: if I change, if I become a genius, then why
should I continue writing, as everything I'll write is always
going to be perfect? The goal of writing is to overcome
oneself, direct others towards the goal and the path to its
realisation. What should a man who is a genius a priori
write for? What can he offer? Creation is an expression of will.
a creator is a genius a priori, his creation loses all
significance. Besides, Writer thinks about the story
of Porcupine who hanged himself. He deduces from it that what
is granted in the Room are not wishes but a kind of internal
vision hidden within human heart. Perhaps they are true wishes
pertaining to the inner world. If, let's say, I wish to become
rich then I'll probably obtain not the riches but something
more compatible with my nature, depth, the truth of my soul —
for example poverty — which is closer to what my soul needs
in fact. Writer is afraid to enter the Room because his opinion
about himself is rather unflattering.
And regarding the scientist, he has absolutely no intent
to enter. He is after all carrying a bomb, he wants
to blow everything up. For him the Room is a place that could be
visited by those whose wishes might endanger entire human life
on Earth. Yet Professor gives up his plan as it is silly to
be afraid people would wish for unlimited power in the Room.
They usually desire really primitive things: money,
prestige, women... That's why Professor does not destroy the Room.
Another reason is that it's necessary to preserve a place for
people to come to preserve hope, express longing, fulfil
the need for the ideal.
At the end of the film Stalker laments over baseness of those
who did not enter the Room, he considers their attitudes. They
didn't enter on account of their cowardice. Writer is more afraid
than most. He has a highly developed sense of his own worthlessness
but at the same time he says to himself: why enter if nothing
special happens there and most likely no wishes are granted?
On the one hand he understands that wishes cannot be fulfilled
and that they won't be fulfilled. And on the other, above all,
he is afraid to enter. His approach is full of superstitions
and contradictions. That's why Stalker is so depressed —
nobody really believes in Room's existence. Writer completely
questions it. He says: "It probably doesn't exist" and he asks
Professor: "Who told you this Room even existed?" The scientist
points to Stalker. So he appears to be the sole witness. He
is the only person who can testify to the existence of
a Room with the power to grant wishes. He is the only one who
believes. All the stories about the Room come from him —
one could imagine he has invented it all. For Stalker the
worst thing is not that his clients were afraid but that they
did not believe, that there was no room for faith anymore.
Man devoid of faith has no spiritual roots, he is
blind. Over the centuries different concepts were
associated with faith. In these days of no faith it is
important for Stalker to light up a spark within human hearts.
The Zone is in some sense a result of Stalker's imagination.
Our line of reasoning was as follows: it is he who invented
that place to bring people there and convince them about the
truth of his creation [...] I completely agree with the
suggestion that it was Stalker who had created the Zone's
world in order to invent some sort of faith, a faith
in that world's existence. It was a working hypothesis
which we tried to preserve during creation of that world.
We even planned an ending variant in which the viewer
would find out Stalker had invented it all and now he
is heartbroken because people do not believe him.
Stalker is not a desperate film. I don't think a work of art
can be inspired by this sort of feeling. Its meaning must be spiritual,
positive, it should bring hope and belief. I don't think my film
lacks hope. If this is true — it is not a work of art.
Even if Stalker has moments of despair, he masters them. It is
a kind of catharsis. It's a tragedy but tragedy is not hopeless.
This history of destruction still gives the viewer a glimmer
of hope. It has to do with the feeling of catharsis. Tragedy
Every image, even the most expressive one (and this is precisely
what it ought to be) possesses a very significant and very
distinct intellectual content.
I like Stalker the most. The is the best part of myself and at the same
time the least real one. Writer — who is very close to me —
is a man who has lost his way. But I think he will be able to resolve his
situation in the spiritual sense. Professor... I don't know.
This is a very limited character and I wouldn't want to seek any
similarities between him and myself. Although despite the obvious limitations
he does allow a change of opinion, he has an open, comprehending mind.