A new study of Tarkovsky’s Stalker

Anyone teaching a class on Russian cinema, or otherwise interested in Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 classic Stalker, may rejoice at the publication of a new book on this enigmatic film by writer Geoff Dyer. By all accounts, Dyer’s 240-page study takes an irreverently reverential approach to Tarkovsky, combining intelligent analysis of Stalker with remarks on contemporary culture: ‘This, in other words, is much more than a useful guide to a classic film. It is also, in small doses, a memoir, a rumination on art and a philosophy of how to live well. Moreover, it is a running commentary on itself, and as such it poses a problem for the reviewer. Dyer is forever pre-empting criticism by flagging up the potential shortcomings of his project: wouldn’t he have been better off writing a book about tennis? Now and then, he draws attention to the patchiness of his own research: he only “skimmed” the Stanislaw Lem novel that Tarkovsky’s Solaris is based on and decided to avoid his final film The Sacrifice; an explanation he gives about a patricide in a recent film indebted to Tarkovsky is, he confesses, “one part Harold Bloom and one part ill-digested psychoanalysis”‘ (Killian Fox writing in The Observer). More reviews here from the Guardian and the Financial Times.