Stalker

  • 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 name—the Stalker prefers to refer to them in this way. The three of them evade the military blockade that guards the Zone using a jeep—attracting gunfire from the guards as they go—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.[3]

Solyaris

  • Directors: Andrei Tarkovsky
  • Producers: Viacheslav Tarasov
  • Writers: Fridrikh Gorenshtein, Andrei Tarkovsky
  • Genres: Drama, Mystery, Romance, Sci-Fi
  • Actors: Natalya Bondarchuk, Donatas Banionis, Vladislav Dvorzhetsky, Nikolai Grinko, Anatoly Solonitsyn

The film opens with psychologist Kris Kelvin (Donatas Banionis) walking in the land around his father’s house, the day before he is to leave for the space station orbiting the remote, liquid-covered planet called Solaris. After decades of study, the scientific mission there has made little progress in understanding its subject, and has fallen into crisis. Kelvin is being sent to evaluate the situation and determine the future of the outpost. A former pilot named Burton (Vladislav Dvorzhetsky) is visiting. Together they watch footage of hearings many years before, in which Burton recounted seeing a bizarrely huge child on the surface of Solaris during a search for two missing scientists. His craft’s cameras having only recorded clouds and the serene surface, his claims were dismissed as hallucinations. After unsuccessfully trying to convince Kelvin of the truth of his experience Burton leaves angrily, only to call from his car to say that later he met the child of one of the scientists and that except for its size, it was the same one he had seen. In an extended sequence, Burton drives with his son through the streets of a busy, foreign city (Tokyo).

Kelvin burns most of his old papers in a bonfire before leaving, remarking on how much he had kept. From his conversation with his father we learn that they both realize his father won’t live to see Kris return, possibly due to time effects of traveling near speed of light. This was Kelvin’s choice, and it adds to his feeling of guilt for betrayals he committed. (This is a deviation from the book, in which his father was not part of the plot). Arriving at Solaris after his journey, Kelvin is not met by any of the three remaining scientists, and finds the space station in dangerous neglect and disarray. He searches them out, finding that his friend Dr. Gibarian (Sos Sargsyan) has died mysteriously and the remaining two offer only unhelpful and confusing information. Shortly after being advised by Dr. Snaut (Jüri Järvet) not to overreact if he sees anything unusual, he begins to catch glimpses of other people on the station. He begins his investigation against the backdrop of the swirling ocean like surface of the planet.

Kelvin shows Hari films of himself and his parents when he was a boy, and, later, herself. While she is asleep, Snaut comes and promotes a plan of beaming Kelvin’s brainwave patterns at Solaris, in hopes that it will understand them and stop trying to communicate with its disturbing apparitions, and Sartorius suggests a more radical plan to attack it by bombarding it with heavy radiation. As time passes Hari becomes more independent, able to exist out of sight of him without panicking. From Sartorius she learns that the original Hari had committed suicide ten years earlier, and Kelvin tells her the whole story. The new Hari kills herself again outside of his quarters by drinking liquid oxygen, only to painfully, spasmodically return to life a few minutes later. The surface of Solaris has become agitated. Kelvin falls into a fevered sleep, dreaming of his mother and many Haris walking around his room. When he recovers she is gone, and Snaut reads him a note she left, in which she explains that she herself asked the scientists to destroy her. Snaut informs Kelvin that since they broadcast Kelvin’s brainwaves at Solaris, islands have begun forming on its surface. Kelvin debates whether to return to Earth or to stay on Solaris in the hope of reconnecting with all that he loved and has lost. He is then seen back on the shore of the frozen pond beside his father’s house. His dog runs toward him and he walks happily toward it, but his face falls when he sees that something is wrong: water is falling inside the house and though his father (Nikolai Grinko) is inside he seems unaware of it. They embrace on the front step. The camera draws back; the house, lake and surrounding land is revealed to be on an island, floating on the surface of Solaris.

Andrey Rublyov

  • Directors: Andrei Tarkovsky
  • Producers: Tamara Ogorodnikova
  • Writers: Andrei Konchalovsky, Andrei Tarkovsky
  • Genres: Drama, History, War
  • Actors: Anatoli Solonitsyn, Ivan Lapikov, Nikolai Grinko, Nikolai Sergeyev, Nikolai Burlyayev, Irma Raush

Andrei Rublev is divided into seven chapters and a prologue and an epilogue only loosely related to the main film. The main film charts the life of the great icon painter through several episodes of his life. The background is 15th century Russia, a turbulent period characterized by fighting between rival princes and the Tatar invasions.

The film’s prologue shows the preparations for a hot air balloon ride. The balloon takes off from the roof a church, with a man named Yefim (Nikolay Glazkov) roped beneath the balloon, at the very moment of arrival of an ignorant mob trying to thwart the flight. The man is highly delighted by the sight from the air, but can not prevent a crash landing. Yefim is the first of several creative characters, representing the daring escapist, whose hopes are easily crushed.

The Jester, Summer 1400: Andrei (Anatoly Solonitsyn), Danil (Nikolai Grinko) and Kirill (Ivan Lapikov) are wandering monks, looking for work. The three represent different creative characters. Andrei is the observer, a humanistic artist who searches for the good in people and wants to inspire and not frighten. Danil is withdrawn and resigned, and not as bent on creativity as on self-realization. Kirill lacks talent, yet strives to achieve prominence. He is jealous, self-righteous, very intelligent and perceptive. The three have just left the Andronikov Monastery, where they have lived many years, heading to Moscow. During a heavy rain they seek shelter in a barn, where a group of villagers is entertained by a jester (Rolan Bykov). The jester, or skomorokh, is a bitterly sarcastic enemy of the state and the Church, who is earning a living with his scathing and obscene social commentary and by making fun of the Boyars. He ridicules the monks as they come in, and after some time Kirill leaves unnoticed. Shortly, the skomorokh is picked up by a group of soldiers, knocked out headfirst against a tree and taken away.

The epilogue is the only part of the film in color and shows details of several of Andrei Rublev’s icons. The icons are shown in the following order: Enthroned Christ, Twelve Apostles, The Annunciation, Twelve Apostles, Jesus entering Jerusalem, Birth of Christ, Enthroned Christ, Transfiguration of Jesus, Resurrection of Lazarus, The Annunciation, Resurrection of Lazarus, Birth of Christ, Trinity, Archangel Michael, Paul the Apostle, The Redeemer. The final scene crossfades from the icons and shows four horses at a river during rain.