Le futur est piégé : Une réponse cinématographique à Stalker

Last updated on octobre 14th, 2018 at 03:46 am

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Stalker (URSS, 1979)
Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

J'ai voulu revoir Stalker avant de revoir Sous la peauJ'ai regardé le film de Jonathan Glazer, non pas parce que je pense qu'ils ont quelque chose en commun, si ce n'est d'être des films d'art avec des sources paralittéraires, mais parce que j'avais besoin de me rappeler à quoi ressemblait une grande adaptation de science-fiction. (Il m'a semblé beaucoup trop facile d'être impressionné par la mise en scène fascinante et séduisante de Jonathan Glazer et par ses éclats d'expérimentation formelle, tout en ignorant que le film flirte beaucoup trop avec le pastiche. (Peut-être penserai-je différemment plus tard. Il est cependant supérieur à Spike Jonze’s Her in just about every way.)

Tarkovsky’s ambivalent attitude toward genre in general and sci-fi in particular, shown here in his refusal to give the narrative a goal-oriented form or familiar fantastic styles (other than the telekinetic girl in the film’s baffling and enigmatic final shot, reflecting Tarkovsky’s fascination with parapsychology expressed in Le temps dans le temps, which I’ve just begun reading, but also an ironic comment on being careful what you wish for), results in a film that’s one long circuitous and digressive philosophical journey through the poisonous landscapes of the past, both internal and external, rather than an evocation of the future. The future’s not there to be speculated upon at all, is what I take away from it, and the past is the most unbelievable place, the most mysterious. The only lessons learned are what not to do, but not much guidance as to how to go forward. The future is booby-trapped. At one point, the stalker of the film’s title, whose job it is to take men on a kind of pilgrimage through a pseudo-sacred, alien(?) landing site called the Zone, admonishes a writer to leave behind his gun, that it would it get him killed. “Didn’t you see the tanks?!” he says, anguished. In a tracking shot we’re shown small objects underwater ? a gun, a syringe, clothing ? like artifacts of a dead culture; in a slow zoom, we see the skeletons of an embracing couple at the end of a passage leading outside; they’re all left behind by penitents and invaders alike, making their way to a room where wishes are supposed to come true, but not conscious wishes, but rather the deepest desire, whatever that might be or wherever that might lead. But the decrepitude all around them yields a clue.

En chemin, le harceleur et ses clients traversent un long tunnel interdit, couvert de mousse, dégoulinant d'eau et de présages ; ils traversent des mini-dunes de sable identiques dans une salle caverneuse ; ils traversent un champ vert envahi par la végétation, parsemé de fosses dissimulées, de rochers fissurés et d'épaves des chars susmentionnés, et ils pataugent jusqu'à la taille dans un fossé d'évacuation des eaux. Après tout cela, après tout ce qu'ils ont vécu, il n'est pas surprenant que personne n'ose faire un vœu, et l'un des clients du harceleur pense avoir la solution finale à ces dangers.

Stalker is undeniably beautiful, with choreographed shots of landscapes and interiors the final frames of which end up somewhere unexpected. I was also fascinated by the close-ups and medium close-ups of faces, often shot in profile, sometimes almost silhouettes, or of people sleeping. The ruinous Zone itself reminded me of the large-scale installations and sculptures of Anselm Kiefer at his home/studio of Barjac. His work mirrors and reproduces the effects of the Allied bombing of Germany but also externalizes the psychic damage of Nazism and fascism. Kiefer is a contemporary artist but Tarkovsky was anticipating his work by some years, by shooting Stalker in an abandoned chemical plant, among other sites, suggesting there’s no other path through pain, the damage of human confusion and violence in the past, except to keep going. “You can’t go back the way you came,” the Stalker says more than once. Both artists belie Adorno’s assertion that there’s “no lyric poetry after Auschwitz.” Or under and after totalitarianism.

It’s here in every frame of Harceleur.

chrisvscinema.com Stalker-Monkey

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