Sunday, April 03, 2011


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Poster images from Journal of Avant-Garde Film & Art


A post in two halves. First a welcome chance to celebrate the work of the great Russian film maker Tarkovsky, best known in the West as the maker of the original ‘Solaris’ and the remarkable film ‘Stalker’, which is synopsised below in an interesting post ‘Penetrating the Zone: Andrei Tarkovsky’ by Brecht Anderson in the Open space blog on the SF MOMA site.

Stalker is often considered Tarkovsky’s most profound exploration of the spiritual alienation endemic to modern man.

‘[The] ZONE: a region taken over by a mysterious force which upends the laws of physics, conveying those who dare enter it into a dreamscape of magic and terror. Most who enter are never heard from or seen again. In the center of the ZONE is reputed to be the Room, in which anyone who enters is granted the deepest desire at the core of his or her psyche. Those who have made their way through its doors and returned home have had immediate worldly success, gone insane, or committed suicide.

‘A “Writer” and “Scientist” are guided into the ZONE by the eponymous “Stalker” in an apparent search for much-needed rejuvenation…Having penetrated the ZONE, the trio find themselves in an area that at first seems like the one from which they’ve just travelled, and Writer and Scientist set to bickering, revealing themselves jaded cynics who have come to the ZONE merely to disprove its powers. The Stalker, a figure with analogs to Christ and Dostoyevsky’s Idiot, Prince Myshkin, is brought to the brink of despair by their acrimonious antics, but soldiers on: it is his vocation, his life’s purpose, to bring those who seek his guidance to the portals of the Room. As their trek proves ever more precarious and hallucinatory, Stalker leads Writer and Scientist deep into the labyrinth, to a confrontation with their secret hopes, demons, and the infinite.’

In the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone there are real life Stalkers, a fact that I have discovered from the remarkable site:

According to ‘Routes of penetration of stalkers to the Zone’:

‘Stalkers are reluctant to talk about the ways of penetration into the Zone. It seems that each of the “Game-addicted” believes that his route is somehow unique. “Ideological” stalkers hold a “hole” in secret because of the growing popularity of penetrations in the Chernobyl Zone. They are silent too about the “holes” in the security perimeter of the city of Pripyat. It seems that everyone has his own “secret” route.’

Here are some remarkable schematic maps of penetration Zones based on the analysis of reports and photos by different types of stalkers.

Maps of the stalker routes

Map of the stalker routes

Stalker map of Exclusion Zone

Stalker map of Exclusion Zone

Map by Real Stalker

Map by Real Stalker

On the same site more detailed is added in post Real Chernobyl Stalker reads:

‘.. interest in the Exclusion Zone is increasing for people who are tired of hateful routine and yearning for a temporary retreat….Another reason for the growth of stalkers in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is the desire of young people to feel “a real stalker” – to run through the Zone not on the computer screen, but in reality.


It is worth to note that there are some fundamental differences in people coming to the Exclusion Zone. There is fairly clear distinction of Chernobyl stalkers into two camps – the two categories. Differences between categories are big enough – it shows how the quality of reports prepared, used slang, photos, as well as the appearance of stalkers
First, I would call them – curious gamers. Second – ideological. Regarding these two categories of stalkers it can say the following: The first – young people having the “basic” knowledge of the Exclusion Zone from the computer games, and subsequently from the Internet. Game mania and desire to force sensory understanding of gameplays are the reasons for entry into the Exclusion Zone. Typically, the average age of this category of stalkers is about 20 years, but not older than 22-24 years. Most of these people make just one – two entering into the Zone and by this they calm their ambitions.’

The game referred to is ‘S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl’ and its sequels

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According to a UK report (August 2010):

‘The computer games company GSC Game World released the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl in 2007 and has since put out two follow-ups to capitalize on that game's critical success. The first, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, arrived in 2008 and operated as a prequel to the events in the original game, while this year's Call of Pripyat served as an extension to the end of Shadow of Chernobyl.

‘Now, GSC Game World is gearing up to deliver a sequel proper to Shadow of Chernobyl, announcing today that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 will arrive in 2012. In announcing the game's development, GSC Game World also noted that the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise has now sold more than 4 million units worldwide.

‘The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. universe takes place in an alternate reality set in the infamous city of Chernobyl, which suffered a nuclear reactor meltdown in 1986. In the game, the town is subjected to a second dose of nuclear fallout, spawning a rash of hideously mutated monsters that now occupy the postapocalyptic town. ‘

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