Much like his movie Nostalghia, Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker at first appears to be yet another Tarkovsky film where the women in the movie, few though they be, serve more as props than people or, at most, bit players in man’s existential search for meaning and happiness. In Stalker, the movie opens with a glimpse of the main character, Stalker, in bed with his wife. Through a cracked door we witness her convulsing in agony over her husband’s departure on yet another journey into the forbidden and dangerous Zone, where he risks his life to act as a guide for two strangers known as The Writer and The Professor. She does not reappear until the end of the film, after Stalker has completed his journey, yet her reappearance reveals much about his journey, his life, and the director himself.
Outside of the forbidden Zone, where Stalker’s wife and handicapped child live out their lives, all is dull, dirty, impoverished and sepia-toned. Other than her agony, Stalker’s wife appears to have little to add to this three hour long search for some sort of Holy Grail. The Stalker is able to escape their grim reality during his trips into the Zone, guiding others to the place known as the Room where it is said one’s wishes may be granted, but in which stalkers are not allowed. As the Stalker, the Professor, and the Writer continue on their Russian road to Oz, they encounter danger and face their fears and their dreams. Mainly they face the fear that realizing their dreams might literally end their lives, as was the case with the Porcupine, Stalker’s predecessor, who won the lottery, then committed suicide.
It is interesting to note that the director, Tarkovsky, grew up in a house populated with women, his father having left to volunteer in the Russian army when Tarkovsky was ten. When his father returned home from the Russian Front, a decorated war hero who had lost a leg in battle, he chose not to rejoin his family, leaving his...