- Directors: Andrei Tarkovsky
- Producers: Aleksandra Demidova A
- Writers: Andrei Tarkovsky, based on the novel by Arkadi Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky
- Genres: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi
- Actors: Alexander Kaidanovsky, Anatoli Solonitsyn, Nikolai Grinko
The setting of the film is a tiny town on the outskirts of “The Zone”, a wilderness area which has been cordoned off by the government. The film’s main character, the Stalker, works as a guide to bring people in and out of the Zone, to a room which is said to grant “the deepest, innermost” wishes. Residual effects of an unnamed previous occurrence have transformed an otherwise mundane rural area scattered with ruined buildings into an area where the normal laws of physics no longer apply.
The film begins with the Stalker in his home with his wife and daughter. His wife emotionally urges him not to leave her again to go into the Zone due to the legal consequences, but he ignores her pleas. The Stalker goes to a bar, where he meets the Writer and the Professor, who will be his clients on his next trip into the Zone. Writer and Professor are not identified by nameâ€”the Stalker prefers to refer to them in this way. The three of them evade the military blockade that guards the Zone using a jeepâ€”attracting gunfire from the guards as they goâ€”and then ride into the heart of the Zone on a railway handcar. The camera follows their passage from urban setting to rural, and from the darkness required for their infiltration of the zone, to light.
The next scene shows the Stalker, Writer, and Professor back in the bar. Stalker’s wife and child arrive. A mysterious black dog that followed the three men through the Zone is now in the bar with them. His wife asks where he got it; Stalker says that it got attached to him and he couldn’t leave it in the Zone. As the Stalker leaves the bar with his family and the dog, we see that his child, nick-named “Monkey” (who earlier dialogue has suggested is affected by some form of genetic mutation as a “child of the Zone”) is crippled, and cannot walk unaided. The film ends with Monkey alone in the kitchen. She recites a poem (written by Fyodor Tyutchev), and then lays her head on the table and appears to telekinetically push three drinking glasses across the table, with one falling to the floor. As the third glass begins to move, a train passes by (as in the beginning of the film), causing the entire apartment to shake, leaving the audience to wonder whether it was Monkey or the vibrations from the train that moved the glasses.