This article undertakes a reading of Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 film Stalker that runs, for the most part, against the grain of the director's own pronouncements on the film. My focus is on a character study of the Stalker himself, and the consequences of his most unattractive characteristics: his manipulativeness, his petulance, and his self-pity. Rather than seeing the Stalker as an emblem of pure faith I explore the possibility that he is a quasi-tragic figure trapped by his own myopic idolatry. I also contrast the Stalker's lack of self-awareness with Stalker's reflexivity; I argue that interpreting the film in this way casts a fresh light on its crucial themes of faith and belief. I attempt ultimately, to show that focussing on these negative characteristics reveals a perhaps surprising affinity between Stalker and the philosophical investigations into agency and self-knowledge that Robert Pippin has conducted by means of a study of film noir.
- film noir