I rewatched this yesterday at the theater and I have to say it was an even more incredible experience. Stalker it's transcendent as a movie: in its philosophy and in its technique. Tarkovsky makes nature look like magic.
Probably and apart "Andrei Rublev", this remains the most fascinating densely Tarkovsky film, despite the tangential with "Solaris", another magnificent film. In fact, the universe of science fiction is, with this filmmaker, an appeal of an existential and metaphysical combination (in a pictorial-physical form) of the usual dissonance between science and belief, being that an immanence of this one, both substance.
There is a quality to Russian sci-fi that is absent in most Hollywood movies. Interesting ideas. Hollywood would rather amaze you with special effects than do anything that might challenge you mentally.
It truly amuses me how Tarkovsky and the film crew were able to pull this off given the fact that he took a year shooting outdoor scenes, only to find out that their footage was improperly developed and unusable. He re-shot the film, hence the mix of sepia and color footage. On top of that, several people involved in the production including Tarkovsky died due to toxic locations. Truly one of the greatest films ever!
The people who made this incredible film, one of the greatest films ever, all died as a result; that is, the ones who were in the radioactive zone: Tarkovsky, the 3 male actors who entered the "zone", the photographer, and assistant director. They all died a slow death from cancer within 17 years of making this film. You owe it to yourself to see the masterpiece that these people all gave their lives for.
"Let them believe in themselves, let them be helpless like children, because weekness is a great thing, and strengh is nothing. When a man is just born, he is week and flexible, when he dies he is hard and insensitive. When a tree is growing, it's tender and pliant, but when it's dry and hard, it dies. Hardness and strengh are death's companions. Pliancy and weekness are expressions of the freshness of being"
Upon rewatching Stalker (with the added benefit of seeing it on the big screen), I've been able to thoroughly reassess my views on it. For a long time I felt this was a hugely overrated piece of work, but no, it's a masterwork, I watched it far too early. The level of profundity and purity Tarkovsky reaches is stunning, an incredibly atmospheric, enigmatic and beautiful film, a colossal film. 5/5