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Movie ‘Stalker’ hailed as 'one of the greatest films of all time' although director, his wife and main star died

Movie ‘Stalker’ hailed as 'one of the greatest films of all time' although director, his wife and main star died

Crew members claim that the Soviet science fiction art film killed the individuals in question

Stalker may have been labelled as one of the greatest films ever made, but its sinister backstory - which left three people dead - has made viewers feel uneasy about watching it ever since.

The 1979 film follows a guide — known as a 'stalker' — who makes a living by illegally escorting people through a restricted area known as the 'Zone', where nothing is as it seems.

Eventually, they find their way to the room, which is said to contain one’s greatest desires.

The Soviet science fiction art film is a reflection on religion and contemporary political anxieties and seems to predict the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, which led to the formation of an exclusion zone around Pripyat, Ukraine.

It has a score of 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and has been called bleak, magical, and astoundingly beautiful by critics.

Yet, despite being lauded as one of the great films of all time, Stalker might be best known for its tragic story behind the scenes.

After an earthquake forced director Andrei Tarkovsky to abandon his plans to shoot principal photography in Tajikstan, the crew relocated to an abandoned hydroelectric power station in Estonia, where they shot a more minimalist version of the script.

Stalker has been labelled one of the best films of all time.
Film at Lincoln Center

Sound recordist Vladimir Sharun has since spoken out and said that he believes that contamination from a chemical plant located upstream from the set ultimately caused the deaths of Tarvosky, his wife Larisa and actor Anatoliy Solonitsyn.

“We were shooting near Tallinn in the area around the small river Jägala with a half-functioning hydroelectric station,” Sharun said in 2001.

“Up the river was a chemical plant and it poured out poisonous liquids downstream.

"There is even this shot in Stalker: snow falling in the summer and white foam floating down the river. In fact, it was some horrible poison.”

He concluded that the deaths of various crew members were a result of the toxic environment the film was shot in.

The toxic environment the film was shot in is said to have caused the death of three people.
Film at Lincoln Center

“Many women in our crew got allergic reactions on their faces. Tarkovsky died from cancer of the right bronchial tube. And Tolya Solonitsyn too.

“That it was all connected to the location shooting for Stalker became clear to me when Larisa Tarkovskaya died from the same illness in Paris.”

To this day, Stalker still stands as one of the most beautiful Soviet films ever made.

It makes you wonder, did Tarkovsky, who believed in humanity’s purpose to create great art, realise the risks he was taking with the lives of his crew and choose to ignore them in order to make a masterpiece?

Featured Image Credit: Film at Lincoln Center

Topics: Film and TV, Russia