Stalker – Film and State of Emergency


When Andrei Tarkovsky's film Stalker premiered 40 years ago, he triggered long-lasting repercussions thanks to his visionary characteristics, especially in relation to the dystopian mood as well as his aesthetic radicalism.

During a two-day interdisciplinary symposium, his reverberations right up to the present day will be examined. The focal points are how this work has been received by creators of film and art of different generations from East and West, as well as the importance of his thinking about the catastrophes and possible ways out.



Friday, 26 Apr 2019

5 pm, Studio Lobby

Ulrich Gregor (film historian, Berlin) and Jule Reuter (art historian, Berlin/Halle)

Norbert Franz (slavist, Berlin): Tarkovsky's Stalker and Soviet Science Fiction

In the late 1950s, a growing enthusiasm for the cosmos also reached the cinemas, which, after the stagnation of the Stalin years, would increase both quantitatively and qualitatively. It was a favourable time for Tarkovsky to promise the authorities a science fiction movie, but he would mould it into a “poetic film”. A longer narrative by the Strugatsky brothers, Roadside Picnic, on which the film script is based, was not without its share of ideological provocations. This lecture shows how Tarkovsky reduced the typical sci-fi elements and situated fantasy in physical nature, transposing these elements into something metaphysical without getting emotional.

Natascha Drubek (specialist on Eastern Europe, Prag/Berlin): Contaminated Places

Natascha Drubek examines Stalker as a film that demonstrates how film work can become a “dead zone”. This can be said of the film's production history, as well as of the biographies of members of the film crew and of Tarkovsky himself. Originally he wanted to adopt Dostoevsky's novel The Idiot. His stalker is the successor of the outsider/idiot: of the holy fool girl from Andrei Rublev; of the victim and - the shaved prisoner - of genocidal persecution.

Jule Reuter (art historian, Berlin/Halle): “How quiet it is! ... It is so beautiful and there is nobody here.” Landscape and garden motifs in the film Stalker

The Zone is of course not a garden that conforms to classic definitions. Nevertheless, there are leftover elements and features of the topographical, linked by views and paths laid out to conjure up a garden atmosphere. As a landscape the Zone is also political, showing signs of defence and destruction.

“Stalker Material - Making of” by Ulrich Polster (visual artist, Berlin), 2015, with Arvo Iho (former assistant by Tarkovsky), 20 min., English original version

Talk with:
Jule Reuter, Norbert Franz, Natascha Drubek, Ulrich Polster and Andrei Plakhov (film critic, Moscow)
Moderation: Cornelia Klauß

8:30 pm, Studio

Film: Stalker

Post-industrial scenery rolls by to the rhythm of the rail joints: factory ruins, military equipment enveloped by overgrowth, landscapes covered in fog. Three men trepass into the “Forbidden Zone”. Tarkovsky develops a cosmos, whose archaic images lastingly embed themselves into the memory of viewers. Maybe these images have actually been there for a long time and were just waiting for the film to show them to us?

USSR 1979, 163 min., DCP, original version with German subtitles, director: Andrei Tarkovsky, book: Arkadi and Boris Strugazki, camera: Alexander Knjaschinski, with: Alexander Kaidanowski, Anatoli Solonizyn, Nikolai Grinko

Saturday, 27 Apr 2019: Symposium, day two

Friday, 26 Apr 2019

Symposium with Natascha Drubek, Norbert Franz, Ulrich Gregor, Ulrich Polster, Andrei Plakhov and Jule Reuter

8:30 pm: Stalker
Film by Andrei Tarkovsky, USSR 1979, 163 min., original version with German subtitles

Symposium in German

€ 10/8