Stalker (1979): One of Trakovsky's Best Films

After “Solaris,” Tarkovsky returned to the science fiction genre in his next film, "Stalker," in 1979, loosely based on a 1973 novel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.

 The novel was set in North America, but Tarkovsky transferred the story, without actually specifying its locale, unmistakably back to Russia. Taking place in the future,
 
“Stalker” concerns a government-restricted, mysterious area known as the "Zone," in which there is a "Room" where wishes are fulfilled. The hazards of the unpredictable Zone can only be avoided if one travels with a "stalker," who illegally guides the uninitiated.
 
Living on the Zone's periphery, with dirty clothes, shaven head, and a decrepit family, the stalker resembles a political prisoner in a work camp. Two intellectuals, an unnamed scientist, and a writer, hire him to reach the Room. The scientist, denouncing the false hopes the Room must encourage, toys with the notion of blowing it up, while the writer, who sought to spur his flagging creativity, contemptuously declines even to formulate a wish.
 
In the ambiguous end, the half-demented stalker is left the Sisyphian task of sustaining a doubtful faith of which he is a humble priest but without which he is nothing.