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->''A film about three men walking through the wooded territory, two of which are mostly calm, and the third is constantly afraid of something.''
-->-- A popular recap of unknown origin

'''''Stalker''''', or ''СТАЛКЕР'' in the original Russian, is a 1979 Creator/AndreiTarkovsky ScienceFiction film shot in Estonia. It is an adaptation (albeit a very loose one) by the Creator/StrugatskyBrothers of their earlier science-fiction story ''Literature/RoadsidePicnic''.

The film takes place in and around a devastated partially-industrialised landscape called The Zone. At the centre of The Zone we are told, lies a location called The Room, which is said to grant the deepest desires of those strong enough to make it there, avoiding the numerous hazards for which the Zone enjoys a fearsome and lethal reputation.

Our three main characters meet in a bar outside the Zone. They are only named by their professions; Stalker, Writer, and Professor. Stalker is both the protagonist and also the name of a class of semi-professional guides, skilled at infiltrating the security cordon surrounding the Zone, and avoiding the many hazards within it. He regards the Zone with something close to religious awe, and treats it as a temperamental Deity to be appeased and wondered at. Writer is an urbane, fashionable, cynical author with a drink problem. He complains that he has lost his inspiration, and wishes to regain it via the power of The Room. Professor is a taciturn physicist, who appears to have no particular reason to visit the Zone, and a small backpack that he is very attached to.

[[VideoGame/{{Stalker}} The video game of the same name]] could be said to be loosely inspired by this film. Very loosely. It is more correct to say that they share some features in common because they draw on the same original inspiration.
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!!This film provides examples of:
* TheAlcoholic: Writer is the first to the bar, is refused spirits and so buys beer as if that doesn't count. Stalker later tips away Writer's booze stash (hidden under Writer's decidedly NotSoBadassLongcoat).
* AllThereInTheManual: Given how very little the film actually explains, familiarity with the source story helps. Have you been wondering how the bolts with a length of cloth tied to them is supposed to help find a safe route? ''Roadside Picnic'' describes the area containing anomalous spots of extremely high gravity. Throwing something solid with a fluttering tail behind it would be an excellent way of spotting those due to the flying arc suddenly dipping.
* AppliedPhlebotinum: The disruption of reality in the Zone.
* ArtShift: From sepia in the town to color in the Zone.
* AuthorAvatar: The Writer.
* BaldOfAwesome: Stalker has a convict's buzz cut.
* TheCakeIsALie: Does the Room grant you your deepest desire? Only Porcupine would know, but even though he became rich, he killed himself because he sent his brother to his death. Nobody else is known to have gone into the Room and had their wishes granted.
* CharacterTitle
* CoolCar: The three charge the gates in a Series II 88" Land Rover.
* ContemplateOurNavels: All the characters, particularly Writer, are fond of long philosophical monologues.
* CursedWithAwesome: Monkey is a cripple, but may have psychic powers.
* DeliberatelyMonochrome: Like other Tarkovsky films. The monochromatic[=/=]sepia town scenes contrast with the colorful Zone.
* DrivenToSuicide: Porcupine.
* DrivesLikeCrazy: Stalker cannot drive in a straight line, even on railroad tracks.
* DungeonMastersGirlfriend: Stalker's wife.
* DysfunctionJunction: Stalker has just returned from prison, presumably having been sent there for illegally going into the Zone. His daughter, Monkey, is crippled. Writer has come to the Zone because he no longer feels inspired in his writings. Professor wants to get a Nobel Prize and be respected by other academicians. Stalker's wife, despite arguing with Stalker, is the closest in the film to a happy person because she is the only person whose wishes have been granted.
* EldritchLocation: The Zone in all its incarnations (book, film, and game) is a sterling example of this trope.
* EliteMooks: Averted by The Zone security forces. They are generally more interested in television, and hosing civilian vehicles with machine gun fire
* EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep: Stalker, Writer, and Professor.
* FailedASpotCheck: One of the soldiers trying to prevent people from approaching the Zone sees Stalker's car, but does not think that Stalker is hiding under the car.
* FinalBoss: The Meat Grinder.
* FollowTheLeader: The critical reception of ''[[ASpaceOdyssey 2001: A Space Odyssey]]'' may have factored into the creation of ''[[Film/{{Solaris 1972}} Solaris]]'' and this film.
* GeniusLoci: The Zone.
-->''The Zone wants to be respected. Otherwise it will punish.''
* GeoEffects: The shortest route between two points within the Zone is '''never''' in a straight line. Oh, and never attempt to retrace your steps.
* HaveAGayOldTime: The film's usage of "stalking" to mean "to steal past something", as it happens, is etymologically more accurate.
* HollywoodHomely: [[invoked]] Stalker and his wife.
* ImperialStormtrooperMarksmanshipAcademy: The soldiers patrolling the Zone cannot hit Stalker's slow-moving Land Rover, but they do manage to wreck their own electrical equipment.
* IronicNickname: The "dry tunnel" has a large waterfall and is flooded.
* LeaveTheCameraRunning: Director's trademark. For example, he leaves the camera on to capture a rainstorm forming, pouring rain, and then dissipating.
* LegacyCharacter: Stalker. All Stalkers lead people into the Zone, and when one leaves the job, their apprentice becomes Stalker.
* MacGuffin: The Professor's backpack. At first his attachment to it makes him look like a cosseted old man, but in fact he needs it because it contains the bomb he stole from the other scientists.
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: It's generally left pretty ambiguous as to whether The Zone really does have all the fantastical qualities that Stalker claims [[spoiler:(primarily since all the characters opt not to enter The Room when they finally reach it)]].
** The last scene offers a perfect encapsulation of this: [[spoiler: a glass slowly slides across a table; it could be the Stalker's daughter using telekinesis, or just vibrations from passing traffic.]]
* MysteriousWaif: Stalker's daughter Monkey, apparently able to move glasses by force of will as an effect of the Zone.
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: One of the rooms in the Zone is called the "meat mincer."
* NegativeSpaceWedgie: The Zone has mysterious properties, including the ability to kill people and wreck technology. The most dramatic example is when the trio enter the Zone and see the wreckage of dozens of army tanks.
* [[spoiler:NukeEm]]: [[spoiler:The Professor wants to destroy the Room using his nuclear bomb to prevent it from being used ForTheEvulz. However, he [[AvertedTrope gives up the plan]] and disassembles the bomb after the Writer has a revelation about the Room]].
* OnlyKnownByTheirNickname[=/=]OnlyOneName: Stalker implies it is safer for everyone in case they are arrested that no-one knows anyone else's name, although the trend encompasses almost the entire cast: Stalker, Writer, Professor, Luger, Monkey, Teacher (or Porcupine).
* OhCrap: Writer decides to go off on his own until a disembodied voice [[spoiler: actually it's The Zone]] shouts at him to "Stop right where you are!"
* PublicDomainSoundtrack: OdeToJoy and Ravel's "Bolero".
* TheQuest
* RealIsBrown: Used as a metaphor, where the world outside the Zone is (mostly) filmed in washed-out sepia tones.
* RuleOfSymbolism: This film runs on religious imagery.
* SceneryGorn: Anywhere outside The Zone. Overlaps with CrapsackWorld.
* SceneryPorn: Almost anywhere inside The Zone, the [[spoiler: exploded tanks, artillery, and incinerated corpses of the armies sent to surround the Zone]] notwithstanding
* ScienceIsWrong: Writer's snarkalicious speech to Professor about finding truth in science and art.
* SingleWomanSeeksGoodMan: Stalker's wife explaining the development of their relationship.
* StateSec: The stormtroopers assigned to patrol the Zone.
* TheStoic: Professor is not upset by the challenge to modern science that the Zone presents. He even lands a few rhetorical punches on Writer following his little speech about truth.
* TookALevelInKindness: Stalker is ''much'' more kind and noble than Redrick, his counterpart in the ''Roadside Picnic''.
* UnknownPhenomenon: The Zone, not unlike [[Film/{{Solaris 1972}} Solaris]].
* UnkemptBeauty: Alexei's mother and Stalker's wife, both based to varying degrees on Tarkovsky's mother. And Stalker himself may count as a male version.
* WonderChild: Monkey [[spoiler:appears to have telekinetic powers.]]
* YouAllMeetInAnInn: Stalker, Writer, and Professor start off in a bar.
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