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11 May, 2006

Take two

I don't know about other companies, but Amazon DVD Rental operates on a 'per disc' basis, whereby one rents a certain number of individual DVDs per month (six, in my case).  A two-disc set counts as two choices, not one.  Hence, there's an obvious temptation to only rent one disc of each set, watching the film (usually Disc 1) without the bonus documentaries, deleted scenes, etc. (usually Disc 2).

The point of this entry (yes, there is one) is to warn people not to do that with the Artificial Eye edition of Tarkovsky's 'Stalker'. I suspect the DVDs were derived from a TV version, as the 163-min film is in two parts, ~65 mins on Disc 1 & ~95 on Disc 2. The (limited) extras are on both discs. Don't be caught out with only 2/5 of a film!

'Stalker' itself is pretty good; I suspect it'd grow on repeat viewing, too. It's very slow – it is a Tarkovsky film, so that's no surprise – but after the first ~30 mins one becomes accustomed to the contemplative pacing, which helps one absorb the subtexts and certainly sustains one's attention.
It's sci-fi, but in a literary sense rather than the typical Hollywood interpretation of the genre, which too often means an action movie with a few token spaceships amongst the explosions and shouting. Anyone expecting a high-energy plot would be seriously disappointed. Think more of three bald men going on a existential, even spiritual journey, as much in their heads than in the physical world. By definition, it's the journey that matters, not the destination, and that applies to the viewing experience too.

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