Sunday, 2016-01-31

January

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Stockholm / Östermalm

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Tuesday, 2016-01-19

Roadside Picnic, a novel by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky, and Сталкер, a film by Andrei Tarkovsky

I picked the book up thinking it would be a re-read from my teenage years, but I didn’t remember anything about it so I must have just thought I read it[1]. I do remember seeing the movie around that time though, as the totally awesome film club in my hometown showed a Tarkovsky retrospective.

The novel and film have little in common, apart from the Zone, the fact that the Stalker has a “defective” daughter, and that the Zone contains something that grants wishes. In the novel, the Stalker Red is depicted as a tough man, skilled in the arts of getting objects out of the Zone and selling them for profit. In the movie, he’s a mystical guide. However, Tarkovsky’s scenography is absolutely spot on, depicting the Zone as an overgrown wilderness containing hidden dangers.

Of course, the concept of “the Zone” has taken on a new meaning after Chernobyl, but it’s interesting to see that Tarkovsky could find settings in the FSU long before that.

The Wikipedia entry for the novel mentions that it was censored at publication. It would be interesting to know that the censors found objectionable. The protagonists are depicted as thieves and profiteers, but they’re also supposed to be Canadian. Maybe the problem was that the antagonists were among the authority figures?

[1] The SF shelf at the local library had quite a lot of Strugatsky and Lem, maybe because they felt that most SF was too “American”.