Stalker is zen while Nostalghia is not


Dyer himself says that the book is not a synopsis but an amplification of the film. Amplification towards what? Towards the metaphysical, of course. The book is philosophical in that it asks essential questions: what is film, what is literature, what am I, the writer? Nevertheless, Dyer’s approach is peculiar. He is not writing philosophy, he is not analyzing, and he is not even telling us the story of the film. “Literary anthropology” comes to mind, which does indeed exist. I know some self-critical and repentant philosophers (not all of them Germans) who have consciously turned towards that genre. Dyer himself mentions “Tarkovsky’s filmic archeology of the discarded” (p. 117) and I believe that this is exactly what Dyer is doing himself. The ruminating exploration of places draws us into Stalker, which is a film about a place (the Zone). Dyer retells this place with all its décor, colors, flickering lights, noises and smells. We might have seen the stone in the water, but Dyer lifts it up and tells us what is underneath. Finally, his anthropology of things brings us closer to the metaphysical meaning of the film (he does not identify the 1961 Peugeot 404 convertible, though).

more from Thorsten Botz-Bornstein at The Berlin Review of Books here.