Stalker – Ending Explained & Film Analysis

The hidden meaning of the film “Stalker”

The genre of the film “Stalker” by Andrei Tarkovsky is difficult to define – it is a drama, a philosophical parable, and post-apocalyptic fiction. A minimum of action, gloomy landscapes and endless symbols, scattered like “bread crumbs” on the way of spectators and heroes, create a single universe of the film, which draws in like a funnel, forcing the brain to furiously search for a way out.

The idea of ​​the film is taken from the fantastic story “Roadside Picnic”, which was written by the Strugatsky brothers. They also appear in the scriptwriters of the film. But from the original plot, only the dark shadow of the Zone remained, which fell on all of humanity, and the illegal profession and the nickname of the protagonist – Stalker.

The rest of the heroes don’t have names either. We only hear nicknames. This depersonalizes them, blurs the lines, makes the images conditional. Before us is the Professor – a collective image of a scientist, one of those who hate violence, but invents bombs; The writer is a reflective creative intellectual; and their guide to the secret and forbidden Zone, where cherished desires come true – Stalker.

What is a Zone and a Room?

There are practically no special effects in the film. Not from beautiful and impressive shots, but from the conversations of the heroes, we learn that twenty years before they met, a meteorite fell in the vicinity of the city.

The room is the heart of the Zone and the purpose of travel

Later, the place of the catastrophe became an anomalous zone in which mysterious phenomena took place, people disappeared, and most importantly, a place (“Room”) appeared where secret, innermost, cherished desires are fulfilled. After that, the military surrounded the zone with cordons, but there were even more people wishing to penetrate there. Then the profession of a guide appeared – a stalker, which the main character of the picture trades in.

Who is Stalker?

The hero of the picture just got out of prison. His wife, although suffering from poverty, does not want Stalker to risk her life by organizing excursions to the Zone for the rich and curious idlers. Their daughter is sick and has paranormal powers. Although this is not said directly, we understand that the state of the child is the result of the action of the Zone.

Black dog sees off the heroes

But the Stalker cannot live without the Zone, only there he feels at home. She acts on the hero like a drug. It is not for nothing that the black and white image at the beginning of the film, after the characters enter the Zone, changes to color – we see it through the eyes of a Stalker, who outside the Zone looks like a fish, deprived of water, suffocates and does not distinguish colors.

Who is a Writer?

The writer wants to find inspiration in the Zone, because he has exhausted all ideas and is in a creative crisis. He is very light on travel; clearly arrives at the meeting place of the heroes after a drunken party and with a woman. The writer constantly rereads the Stalker, does not want to obey his instructions. He is irritated and possessed by a spirit of denial. It seems that he does not need any inspiration, and he does not want to write anything either. Once in the coveted place of the Zone, he refuses to make a wish, claiming that no one can understand their innermost dreams, and the Room will only fulfill subconscious dreams. Since no one will be able to use the Room for their own purposes, then it makes no sense to go to the Zone.

Who is the Professor?

Unlike the Writer, this person’s purpose is clear. He goes to the Zone with a predetermined task. He is concerned about the future of the planet, he believes that the Zone in general and the Room in particular is fraught with serious danger. Therefore, he set out on this journey to activate the bomb hidden in his laboratory, which remained behind the barbed wire after the disaster.

Fear of innermost desires

Once on the threshold of the Room, the heroes are faced with an insoluble contradiction. They could now ask for anything they want, but the Room will fulfill only the desire hidden at the very bottom of the soul. As the Writer said, it is impossible to control your innermost desires. But the destruction of the Room, which the Professor dreamed of, loses all meaning.

Fear of secret desires stopped the heroes

The stalker is desperate. He is far from philosophy. He understands only one thing: to destroy the Room is to destroy hope. Although the Professor defuses the bomb, abandoning his intention, Stalker feels that his mission has failed: he safely brought his companions to the Room, but they refused to make a wish.

Symbols and images in the film Stalker

The first association with the word “Zone” is a prison, and Stalker himself, shaved bald and in shapeless clothing that looks like a prison uniform, resembles a prisoner. But with the development of the plot, we see that for the Stalker it is the Zone that is the meaning of life and a symbol of freedom. After the Chernobyl disaster, many were struck by Tarkovsky’s foresight. The identification of Chernobyl with the Zone seems to me more correct; here comes into force the concept of “exclusion zone”, that is, the territory that is forbidden to people.

A world abandoned by man and given over to nature

In “Stalker” there are not so many incomprehensible and intricate images as in other films by Tarkovsky. The plot is transparent, the action is straightforward and unhurried. Therefore, the main characters do not need additional decoding. It is about finding yourself, about the gap between the ideal and the real, about the secrets of the human soul. The zone appears before us in an unexpected hypostasis: it is not only a piece of land fenced with barbed wire, but a disfigured human consciousness. Traveling within themselves, people come to the knowledge of their own innermost secrets, which is symbolized by the Room.

The flying bird is one of the traditional symbols of Tarkovsky

It is not for nothing that on the road the Writer draws his companions into endless philosophical disputes – these are the questions that torment us when we try to plunge into the abyss of our consciousness, to find the reason for our actions, desires, likes and dislikes. Our belief in miracles and our materialism are in continuous struggle and argue with each other, like the Writer, Professor and Stalker.

Spiritual Christian motives are also clearly traced in the film: quotation of biblical texts, a fragment of the Ghent altar caught in the frame. The disputes between the heroes reflect the clash and opposition of the rational and the irrational, scientific beliefs and hopes for a magical transformation, the fulfillment of desires in one fell swoop.

The meaning of the ending of the film Stalker

The stalker tried his last bit to believe himself and wanted to force others to share this faith with him. It seemed to him that this time he chose promising companions – the fulfillment of their desires could bring invaluable benefits to humanity. But they gave up the miracle. As a result, it turns out that people do not need the Zone. The eerie charm of the Zone has dried up, as has the expectation of a miracle.

The sacrificial love of a wife is a true miracle

Returning home, Stalker bitterly complains to his wife that people have run out of faith. And if there is no more hope or faith, the Stalker is left with only the love of his wife and sick daughter, who are tormented by his attachment to the Zone.

Stalker’s daughter, reading Tyutchev’s poem “I love your eyes”, moves her gaze to the dull glass on the table. The miracle was always near, and people, to believe, did not have to follow it far.

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