‘Stalker’ Brings Supernatural Soviet ’70s Sci-Fi to 2019 San Francisco

Alexander Kaidanovsky as the Stalker in Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 film.  (Courtesy of Janus Films)

I have a confession to make. I have read Roadside Picnic (the 1972 sci-fi novel by Andrei and Boris Strugatsky about a future in which alien spaceships stopped briefly on Earth and forever altered the gravity/reality/environment of their touchdown zones, spawning a black market for alien detritus). I have also read Zona, Geoff Dyer’s excellent book about watching and rewatching Stalker, the 1979 sci-fi film by Andrei Tarkovsky loosely based on Roadside Picnic, its screenplay written by the Strugatsky brothers. But I have never actually seen Stalker.

Stalker is the story of a man who leads people into “The Zone,” a forbidden area in an unspecified country where, it’s claimed, your deepest wish will be realized. Consider it a parable for future exclusion zones like Chernobyl or Fukushima, or an allegory about human consciousness.

If, like me, you’ve up to now missed the life-changing experience of seeing Stalker, described by Janus Films as “one of the most immersive and rarefied experiences in the history of cinema,” McEvoy Foundation for the Arts is here to end that dry spell with a screening at 7pm on Wednesday, Jan. 9. (General admission tickets are $7.)

The film plays in conjunction with their ongoing exhibition No Time, which traces human interactions with the natural world through photography, sculpture and—unexpectedly—3D-glasses-activated tapestry.

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As a procrastinator's bonus, those of us who delayed our exposure to this film might be justified in claiming we waited for the good stuff: this is a brand new digital restoration.

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