Stalker, the movie

I’m glad to hear you liked Stalker so much; I’m admittedly a bit of a Tarkovsky fanboy, but Stalker is in my ‘top 5 of all time’ list. Sounds like it’s time for you to make your way through the rest of his work :) Though I’d recommend saving Andrei Rublyov for last as it’s the most challenging (it certainly was for me anyway). I’m positive you would at least love Solyaris, if you’ve not already seen it.

Religion and spirituality are clearly a core part of the film, as they are in most of his stuff (Russia’s history, people and the Soviet Union are also themes you’ll see often). I’m not any good at expressing my thoughts with words, but to me the film is about aging humanity and a decline in faith. It works as a journey through life on both a personal level (perhaps demonstrated best by the Writer character), and as a metaphor for mankind as a species.

Tarkovsky himself was Christian, but he was a philosopher and the film never presents any particular belief as being right or wrong. It raises a great deal of questions, but wants us to figure out the meaning and the answers on a deeper, personal level. Like the Writer in the film, he wanted us to question our own lives and learn something about ourselves, and that’s part of the genius of his works. I think your interpretation is as valid as any I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a bunch of different ones :)

It may be interesting to note that he was considering a sequel, which he described in a (translated) interview as being about the following:

He [The Stalker] changes, he doesn’t believe anymore that people could go to this happiness, towards the happiness of self-transformation, an inner change. And he begins to change them by force, he begins to force and kidnap them to the Zone by means of some swindles — in order to make their lives better. He turns into a fascist. And here we have how an ideal can — for purely ideological reasons — turn into its negation; when the goal already justifies the means man changes. He leads three men to the Zone by force — this is what I wanted to show in the second film — and he does not shy away even from bloodshed in order to accomplish his goal. -from Nostalghia.com

If you know what to look for (and these kinds of changes actually look worse in motion, not better) you can tell how much blurrier the NTSC versions are. The color is a lot more bleak too.