I’m eager to see Monsters, Gareth Edwards’ film about a man escorting a woman through a zone made deadly by the after-effects of an alien invasion. But wait—that film was made before! Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 science fiction film, is about a man escorting two other people through a zone made deadly by the after-effects of an alien invasion.
But Tarkovsky’s film is unique in every way. It’s notable for being a science fiction film without special effects. (Actually, there is one special effect at the end. But it’s not much of an effect, and it’s not even clear that it really happens.) Based on the novella Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, it was considered an uncanny premonition of the Chernobyl disaster for its depiction of an extraterrestrial landing zone as a ruined and toxic industrial landscape. It’s also the inspiration for the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series of first-person shooters produced by GSC Gameworld.
I expect Monsters to be spectacular. But all the CGI it can throw at us won’t unseat the bare and subtle Stalker as on of the great science fiction movies of all time.