10.29.2013 Stalker / There is No There There

IMG_4721 "There is no there there."  Gertrude Stein

Stalker directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, is a film he made in 1979.  During the filming, he died, due to the toxicity of the environment he was shooting in, though perhaps it was the Zone itself, encircling him, embracing him, punishing him for broadcasting its secrets.

To respond to a film like this is like asking someone to respond to the need to drink water to survive.  Do you like it is relatively meaningless, as I do not think it was after a certain "like-ability".  To view the film is to be with the film.  The film is about waiting, thick movement, long durations and extended shots.  The film thematically deals with the nature of existence and humanity.  What world do these people live in?  What is the Zone?  Who are these travelers?  We are given only archetypes, and the story follows as a parable of truth and need.  What is a Stalker?  What is the Stalker stalking?  The Stalker seeks - hunts - and risks death to find - truth.  He approaches his prey - but what is it that is in the Zone?  Who are the other Stalkers - is there a tribe of these individuals, tainted by the unknown matter that causes telekinetic mutations in babies, invisible effects in those who walk through its wilds?  What does the Stalker hope to find himself?  Is it his purification - to bring others to self-actualizing cleansing and awareness?  Does each person moving through find their own reflexive mirror inside the Zone?  And why is it so heavily protected?  What is the world that the Zone even exists in?  We're presented a destitute, empty, ravaged world.  It is filthy.  People blend into each other.  Perhaps the need to escape into the dangerous exoticism of Zone is because of the conditions presented exterior to it.

We are left with only questions.  What of the child, Monkey, with telekinetic powers, and the unbroken glass.  What of the dog - the spirit animal who leaves the zone with the men, how do the men escape back through the deadly barriers?

10.14.2013 Blade Runner / Then Again, Who Does

blade-runner-origami-unicorn "It's too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?" Gaff, Blade Runner

Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott in 1982, is perhaps my favorite film.  Ever.

With that out of the way, I can continue into a more formal review.

Blade Runner is a gorgeously rendered version of a dystopian future that takes place in a fictional 2019 (we're closing in).  The cityscape is merciless - infinite darkness, endless rain, rampant decay.  The city feels like it is fallen, save the Tyrell Corporation's megastructure qua temple as the pyramid of intact science, wealth and warmth, protected and insulated from the city below.  The  film presents the viewer with a uniform poetics.  The details are meticulously layered, and the film is thick and dense with the articulation of the dystopic reality in a seemingly sprawling cityscape. Has Noah's flood occurred?  Are we seeing the remnants of humankind, those who could not escape to the outer colonies?

Thematically, we have questions of humanity, how memory works, and the nature of truth.  The film leaves us with many unsettled questions - what is it to be human?  Is Deckard (Harrison Ford) a replicant? What would ultimately differentiate a robot with memories and feelings from a flesh and blood human, beyond our "internals"?  Blade Runner does not leave us with many answers.  Scott masterfully brings us to a conclusion where Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) recognizes and embraces his humanity, learning empathy, and teaching, in a depraved way, understanding.  Deckard on the other hand, is left metaphysically questioning his existence and humanity.  Is it possible that the other Blade Runners can access his dreams and leave token origami unicorns as omens or warnings, because Deckard himself is a replicant?  What is the nature of shared or collectivized memories?  Why does he save Rachel (Sean Young) - a replicant who gains awareness of her (its'?) humanity over the course of the film?  We are only left to speculate at the answers.