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Second Artists' Association
Anatoly Solonitsyn Nikolai Grinko in the film STALKER
Scenario: Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky Adapted from the novel Roadside Picnic Director: Andrei Tarkovsky Photography: Alexander Knyazhinsky Art Direction: Andrei Tarkovsky Music: Eduard Artemyev Assistant Director: L. Tarkovskaya Poems by F.I. Tiutchev and Arseny Tarkovsky Sound: V. Sharun Conductor: E. Khachturyan Makeup: V. Lvov Film Editing: L. Feyginova Costume Design: N. Fomina
"Was it a meteorite or a visitation from outer space?
Whatever it was, in our small country, there appeared a miracle — the Zone.
We sent in troops. Not one returned.
Then we surrounded the Zone with a security cordon.
We did right...
Although I'm not sure. I'm not sure."
From an interview with Nobel Prize winner Professor Wallace to an RAI correspondent.
Why did you take my watch?
Where are you going?
You gave me your word. I believed you.
You won't think of yourself. But what about us?
Think about your daughter.
She's not even used to you yet, and you're going back to your old ways.
You've turned me into an old hag, ruined my life.
Quiet. You'll wake up Monkey.
I can't spend my life waiting for you. I'll die.
You were going to get proper work.
They promised you a decent, normal job.
I'll be back soon.
You'll be back in prison.
Next time, they'll give you ten years instead of five.
And you'll have nothing to show for those ten years.
Not the Zone, not anything.
And in ten years, I'll be dead.
"Prison"? I'm imprisoned everywhere.
Let me go. I won't let you go.
Let me go. I won't!
Go on, then!
And may you rot there!
I curse the day I met you, you scum!
God cursed you by sending you that child.
And he cursed me because of you. You bastard!
My dear, the world is so unutterably boring.
There's no telepathy, no ghosts, no flying saucers.
They can't exist.
The world is ruled by cast-iron laws.
These laws are not broken.
They just can't be broken.
Don't hope for flying saucers. That would be too interesting.
But what about the Bermuda Triangle?
You're not going to contradict... Yes, I am.
There is no Bermuda Triangle.
There's Triangle ABC, which equals Triangle A prime, B prime, C prime.
It's all so tedious, so very tedious.
In the Middle Ages, life was interesting.
Every house had its goblin, each church had God.
People were young. Now every fourth person is old.
It's boring, my angel. It's so boring.
But you said that the Zone is the product of a super civilization — Which is probably also boring, also with laws and triangles, but without goblins and, of course, without any God.
Because if there is a God, he'll be that very triangle.
Then I simply don't know.
It's for me. Good-bye, dear friend.
This fine lady agreed to go with us into the Zone.
She's so brave. Her name is — Excuse me, what is your name?
Are you really a stalker?
I'll explain everything later.
So you've been drinking?
I simply had a drink, as does half of all humanity.
And the other half also gets drunk, including women and children.
I simply had a drink.
Damn it! Someone spilled something.
Drink. It's still early.
How about one for the road?
What do you think?
Take it away. Of course, the prohibition law.
"Alcohol is the scourge of mankind."
Let's drink beer then.
Is he coming with us?
Don't worry. He'll sober up. He needs to go there, too.
Are you really a professor? If you wish.
In that case, let me introduce myself. My name is — They call him the Writer.
And what's my name?
You're the professor.
I'm a writer, so naturally everyone calls me the Writer.
What do you write about? About my readers.
No sense in writing about anything else.
There's no sense in writing about anything.
What are you? A chemist?
I'd say a physicist.
That's probably tedious, too. Searching for the truth.
You dig here and there.
Right. The nucleus consists of protons.
That's a good dig.
Triangle ABC equals Triangle A prime, B prime, C prime.
But with me, it's a different matter.
I dig for the truth, but, while I do, something happens to it.
The truth changes into a pile of — I won't say what.
It's just fine for you.
Say there's some antique pot in a museum.
In its own time, it was a trash bin.
But now it draws admiration for its simplicity of line and unique form.
And everyone oohs and aahs over it.
Suddenly, it turns out not to be an antique at all.
It was planted by some joker for a laugh.
The sounds of admiration die away. Some connoisseurs!
This is what you think about all the time?
I seldom think. It's bad for me.
It's impossible to write and keep thinking about success or failure.
But on the other hand, if my books aren't being read in 100 years, why bother to write?
Tell me, Professor, why did you get involved in this business?
What's the Zone to you?
Well, in a sense, I'm a scientist.
What's in it for you?
A fashionable author...
...women draped all over you.
I've lost my inspiration.
I'm going to beg for some.
So you've exhausted your talent?
What? Yes, in a way.
Do you hear that? That's our train.
Did you take the top off the car? It's off.
If I don't come back, tell my wife.
Damn! I forgot to buy cigarettes.
Don't go back.
What is it? Well...
You're all like that. Like what?
You believe any superstitious rubbish.
I'll have to save these for a rainy day.
Are you really a scientist?
See if anyone's there.
Hurry, for God's sake!
There's nobody here.
Go to the other door.
Get going, Writer.
Keep your eyes open.
Did you bring the gasoline can?
Yes. A full one.
What I said about going there...
It's all a lie. I don't give a damn about inspiration.
But how can I put a name to...
...what it is that I want?
How am I to know I don't want what I want or that I really don't want what I don't want?
These are intangibles where the moment you name them, their meaning evaporates like jellyfish in the sun.
You've seen them around.
My consciousness wants the triumph of vegetarianism.
My subconscious longs for a juicy steak.
So what do I want?
I want world supremacy, at the very least.
Why do they need a train in the Zone?
It won't go beyond the military post. The guards won't venture in there.
Everyone in their places?
Listen. Go and see if there's a railcar there.
What railcar? Hurry up!
Get back. I'll go.
The gasoline can.
Give it to me.
Leave your rucksack. It's in the way.
I see you're traveling light.
If anyone's hit, don't cry out. If they spot you, they'll kill you.
Then when everything's quiet, crawl back to the post.
You'll be picked up later.
Won't they come after us?
No, they're scared to death of it.
Here we are, home at last.
It's so still.
It's the quietest place on earth.
You'll see for yourself.
It's so beautiful. There's no one here.
Three men can't foul it up in one day.
Why can't we? Sure we can.
Strange, the flowers have no scent.
Don't you feel it?
It stinks like a swamp.
No, that's the river.
There used to be flower beds here, but Porcupine trampled on them.
But their scent lingered on for many years.
Why did he wipe them out?
I don't know.
I asked him why.
He said, "One day, you'll understand."
I think he simply began to hate the Zone.
Is Porcupine his real name?
No, a nickname. Like yours.
For years he brought people into the Zone, and nobody could stop him.
He was my teacher.
He opened my eyes.
They didn't call him Porcupine then, but Teacher.
Then something happened to him. Something broke inside him.
I think he was being punished.
Help me. Tie the bandage strips to these metal nuts.
I'll just take a walk.
Be careful when you walk here.
Where did he go?
Perhaps he just wants to be alone.
Why? Even with three of us here, I feel uneasy.
He's back in the Zone. Remember, he's a stalker.
What of it?
You see, stalking is a kind of vocation.
I imagined stalkers to be different. How so?
Like Leatherstocking or Chingachgook or Big Snake.
Our stalker's biography is more terrifying.
He was in prison several times, and he was crippled here.
His daughter is a mutant, a so-called Zone victim.
They say she has no legs.
What did he mean about the Porcupine?
What did he mean he was punished?
What is that, a figure of speech?
One fine day, Porcupine returned from this place and suddenly became rich.
You call that a punishment?
Within a week, he had hanged himself.
What is it?
About 20 years ago, they say a meteorite fell here.
It razed the settlement.
They searched for it, but they found nothing, of course.
Why "of course"?
Then people began to vanish.
Finally, it was decided — Well?
Finally, it was decided that this meteorite was not quite a meteorite.
So, for a start...
...they put up barbed wire to stop the inquisitive taking risks.
Then rumors began that somewhere in the Zone there's a place...
...where desires come true.
Well, naturally, they started to guard the Zone like a treasure.
For who knows what desires a person might have?
What was it if it wasn't a meteorite?
But what do you think it was?
I don't have any idea. It could have been anything.
A message to mankind, as a colleague of mine says.
Or a gift.
Why would they want to do that?
To make us happy.
The flowers are blooming again, but they've no scent.
Forgive me for leaving you here, but it was too early to go on.
Did you hear that?
Maybe there are people living here. Who?
You told me the story yourself.
Those travelers who were here when the Zone appeared.
There's no one in the Zone. There can't be.
Are we ready to start?
How do we get back?
Nobody finds their way back from here. What do you mean?
We'll proceed as agreed.
Each time, I'll point out the path.
It's dangerous to veer from it.
Keep the last pole in sight.
You go first, Professor.
Try to follow in his tracks.
Lord! Where's — Did they remain here, the people?
I only recall them leaving from our station to come here to the Zone.
I was still a kid then.
Everyone thought someone wanted to conquer us.
Go on, Professor.
Now you, Writer.
The Room is over there.
We go this way.
Are you trying to make it seem hard? You can almost wrap your arms around it.
Yes, but you need very long arms.
We don't have it.
Don't — Don't touch it!
I said don't touch it!
What, are you crazy? What was that for?
I said this wasn't the place for a stroll.
The Zone demands respect, otherwise it'll punish you.
Don't try anything like that again.
Has the cat got your tongue?
I asked you not to. Do we go this way?
Yes. To the left. But we don't go in a direct line.
We'll go roundabout.
Here, the straight path isn't shortest.
The more indirect, the less risk there is.
Is it fatal to go straight ahead?
I told you. It's dangerous. Is the detour less dangerous?
It's not, but nobody goes straight...
You and your detours!
How about if I just go straight? Listen. You — Why can't we go straight ahead? It's right under our noses.
It's risky here, risky there. What the hell.
You know your attitude about this is very irresponsible.
I'm fed up with your nuts and bandages.
Forget it. I'm going this way.
The man's crazy. And I return the compliment.
The wind is rising.
Do you feel it? The grass...
Okay, all the more reason.
What do you mean?
Hold it. Take your hands off me.
Then let the professor be my witness.
I'm didn't send you in there. You're going of your own free will.
Of my own free will. What else?
Nothing. Go on.
And hope to God you're lucky.
If you suddenly notice something or feel something strange, turn right back.
Just don't throw a lump of iron at my head.
Stop! Don't move!
Why did you do that? Do what?
Why did you stop him?
I thought you did.
What happened? Why did you stop me?
I didn't stop you. Who did then?
What the hell.
You're a fine one, Mr. Shakespeare.
Afraid to advance, ashamed to retreat.
So you order yourself to stop in a false voice.
Fear's sobered you up.
What? Shut up.
Why'd you empty my bottle? I demand discipline!
The Zone is...
...a very complex maze of traps.
All of them are death traps.
I don't know what happens here when humans aren't around.
But as soon as humans appear, everything begins to change.
Former traps disappear, new ones appear.
Safe ways become impassable.
The way becomes now easy, now confused beyond words.
This is the Zone.
It might seem capricious.
But at each moment, it's as if we construct it according to our state of mind.
I won't hide the fact that some people turned back half-way.
Some perished on the threshold of the Room.
But everything that happens here depends on us.
So the Zone lets the good through and kills the evil?
I don't know. I don't believe that.
I think it lets through those who've lost all hope.
Not the good or the bad, but the unhappy.
But even the most unhappy will perish if they don't know how to behave here.
You're lucky. The Zone warned you.
If you don't mind, I'll wait here till you come back.
You'll return happy men.
That's impossible. Believe me.
I've got sandwiches and a thermos.
First, you won't survive an hour. And second?
What's more, nobody returns the same way.
All the same, I'd prefer it.
Then we'll go back immediately.
I'll refund your money minus a small sum for my trouble.
Sobered up, Professor?
All right. Toss the metal nut.
Where are you? Come here!
Are you tired?
Judging by his tone of voice, he'll lecture us again.
May everything come true.
May they believe.
And may they laugh at their own passions.
For what they call passion is not really the energy of the soul, but merely friction between the soul and the outside world.
But, above all, may they believe in themselves and become as helpless as children.
For softness is great and strength is worthless.
When a man is born, he is soft and pliable.
When he dies, he is strong and hard.
When a tree grows, it is soft and pliable.
But when it is dry and hard, it dies.
Hardness and strength are death's companions.
Flexibility and softness are the embodiment of life.
That which has become hard shall not triumph.
It will fit very well.
Soon we'll reach the dry tunnel.
Careful. Don't jinx us.
Are we already on our way? Of course. Why?
I thought you only wanted to show us something.
What about my rucksack? What happened to it?
I left it back there. I didn't know we were going.
It can't be helped. Why not?
I've got to go back. It's not possible.
I can't go without my rucksack. There's no going back.
Nobody goes back the same way they came.
Forget your rucksack. What's in it? Diamonds?
You'll lose your way. The Room will give you all you desire.
It will snow you under with rucksacks.
Is it far to this Room?
Straight ahead, 200 meters, but there are no direct paths.
Don't let doubt creep in, Professor.
Miracles are outside your experience.
Remember how St. Peter nearly drowned.
Go where? Down the ladder.
Professor, where are you?
This is the dry tunnel. You call this dry?
It's a local joke. Usually we have to swim it.
Wait. Where's the professor?
What? The professor's lost.
He was following you the entire time.
He must have strayed and lost his way.
He didn't lose his way. He went back for his rucksack.
Now he'll never get out.
Shall we wait for him? We can't. Things change every minute.
The two of us must go on.
Look! What's all this?
I told you about it. About what?
This is the Zone. Do you understand?
We have to hurry. Let's go.
Here he is.
I really appreciate that you...
How did you get here?
Most of the way, I crawled on all fours.
Incredible. How did you manage to overtake us?
I came back here for my rucksack.
Where did the metal nut come from?
It's a trap.
Porcupine hung it here on purpose.
How did the Zone let us through?
I won't take another step until — A good deal.
We'll all rest here.
But keep away from that metal nut in any case.
I didn't think Professor would get out.
I never know what sort of people I'm bringing in.
It's only in here that things become clear, when it's too late.
The main thing is that the professor's rucksack and spare pants are safe.
Don't poke your nose into another guy's drawers, if you know what I mean.
What's there to understand?
Don't pull my leg with your binomial theorem and your psychological explanations.
We're out of favor at the institute.
We're refused funds for an expedition.
So let's fill the rucksack with manometers, shit-ometers...
...slip into the Zone illegally...
...and check all the local miracles with algebra.
No one in the world has any conception about the Zone, so it'll be a sensation.
Television, your lady fans getting hot flashes, people carrying brooms as if they were laurel wreaths.
Then our professor appears all in white and declaims, "Mene, mene. Tekel upharsin."
Naturally, everyone gapes and shouts, "Give him the Nobel Prize!"
You bedraggled hack writer. You homegrown psychologist.
Fit only to scribble graffiti in lavatories, you talentless clod.
That's feeble stuff. Call that an insult?
You don't know how it's done.
All right. Suppose I'm after a Nobel Prize.
What are you after?
Want to bestow on mankind the pearls of your bought inspiration?
I spit on mankind.
In all of your mankind, only one man interests me.
And that's me.
Am I worth anything, or am I shit like certain other people?
What if you find out that's indeed what you are?
Know something, Einstein? I don't want to argue with you.
Truth is born in arguments, damn it.
You've brought so many people here.
Not as many as I would like.
It doesn't matter.
Why did they come? What were they after?
Happiness, more than anything.
Yes, but what kind of happiness?
People don't like to reveal their innermost thoughts.
Anyway, that concerns neither you nor me.
You've been lucky.
All my life, I have never seen one happy person.
Nor have I.
They return from the Room, and I guide them back.
And we never meet again.
Wishes don't come true immediately, you know.
And you've never wanted to make use of this Room?
I'm fine as I am.
I'm thinking about inspiration you can buy.
Suppose I return to our godforsaken city a genius. Understand?
But a man writes because he's tormented, unsure of himself.
He has to keep proving his worth to himself and to others.
But if I'm convinced I'm a genius...
...then why do I need to write?
What's the deal?
Anyway, I must say we exist in order to — Just leave me in peace.
Let me nap a little. I didn't sleep all last night.
Keep your complexes to yourself.
At any rate, all your technology —
all those blast furnaces, wheels...
...and suchlike hustle and bustle so that people can work less and consume more...
...they're all crutches, artificial limbs.
Mankind exists in order to —
to create works of art.
At least that's unselfish compared with all other human activities.
Great illusions. Images of absolute truth.
Are you listening to me, Professor?
What unselfishness are you talking about?
People keep dying of hunger. Have you been living on the moon?
And this is our intellectual aristocracy.
You're unable to think in abstract terms.
Why don't you teach me the meaning of life...
...and, at the same time, how to think.
You may be a professor, but you're ignorant.
"And, lo, there was a great earthquake;
And the sun became black as sackcloth of hair...
...and the moon became as blood;
And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.
And the heavens departed as a scroll; and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.
And the kings of the earth and the great men and the rich men and the generals and the mighty men...
...and all free men hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
And they said to the mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.
For the great day of his wrath has come, and who shall be able to stand?'"
"That same day...
...two of them...
...were going to a village called Emmaus.
And it came to pass that Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but they did not recognize him.
'What manner of discussions are these...
...that you have one to another as you walk and are sad?'
And one of them, named" —
You were talking about the meaning of our life...
...the unselfishness of art.
Now, take music.
It's connected least of all with reality.
Or, if connected, then it's without ideas.
It's merely empty sound without associations.
Nevertheless, music miraculously penetrates your very soul.
What chord in us responds to its harmonies...
...transforming it into a source of delight, uniting us and shattering us?
Why is all this necessary? And, above all, for whom?
You'll reply, "For no one and no reason."
No. I doubt that.
For everything in the final reckoning has a meaning.
A meaning and a reason.
You mean we go there?
Unfortunately, there's no other way.
It's rather gloomy, eh, Professor?
I don't think I should go first here.
Big Snake never volunteers.
Obviously, we'll have to draw lots.
Here, I'd prefer some volunteer.
Got any matches?
The long match goes first.
The long one.
This time, you were out of luck.
How about throwing a metal nut?
Of course. You're welcome to.
There's some sort of door over here.
Now it's over there.
Open the door and go in.
Me again? I should go in there?
You drew your lot.
You mustn't hang about.
What have you got there?
You can't go in there with a gun!
You'll be killed, and you'll doom us!
Remember the tanks!
Put it away, I beg you.
Don't you understand?
If anything happens, I can get you out.
But like this — Please, I beg you. And who —
Who will you shoot at in there?
Go! We've very little time.
There's water here.
Never mind. Hold onto the rail.
Don't go any farther. Wait for us up there by the exit.
I hope you've nothing like that.
Like what? Like a pistol.
I've an ampoule, for an emergency.
What kind of ampoule? For protection. Poison.
Good God, you mean you came here to die?
That's how it is, just in case.
Return, it's suicide!
I told you to wait at the exit.
It's all because of your pipe.
What? Never mind.
You should have gone first.
He took the wrong turn out of fright.
Experiments, facts or truth as a last resort.
But there's no such things as facts, especially here.
All this is someone's idiotic invention.
Can't you tell?
You, of course, want to know whose invention.
What good will it do you to know?
Whose conscience will be bothered by it? Mine?
I have no conscience, only nerves.
Some bastard abuses you, you're hurt.
A different bastard praises you, you're hurt.
You put your heart and soul into your work, and they devour you.
They even devour the filth in your soul.
They're all literate.
They all have voracious appetites.
They all keep crowding round — journalists, editors, critics, a constant stream of women.
All of them clamoring for more.
What kind of writer am I...
...if I detest writing?
If it's torture for me, a painful, shameful occupation, something akin to extruding hemorrhoids.
I used to think my books helped some people to become better, but nobody needs me.
If I die, in a couple days, they'll find someone else to devour.
I wanted to change them, but they've changed me to fit their own image.
Once, the future was only a continuation of the present.
All its changes loomed somewhere beyond the horizon.
But now the future's a part of the present.
Are they prepared for this?
They don't want to know anything. All they do is gobble.
You certainly are lucky.
Now you'll live to be a hundred.
Why not forever?
Like the Wandering Jew.
You must surely be a fine person.
Not that I doubted it.
You must have been through such agony.
This pipe is the most terrible part of the Zone.
They call it the meat grinder. How many people has it ground up?
Porcupine sent his brother through instead of himself.
He was so sensitive, so gifted.
Listen to this.
Now the summer is passed, it might never have been;
It is warm in the sun, but it isn't enough;
All that I could attain, like a five-fingered leaf, fell straight into my hand, but it isn't enough;
Neither evil nor good has yet vanished in vain;
It all burned and was light, but it isn't enough;
Life has been like a shield and has offered protection;
I have been very lucky, but it isn't enough;
The leaves were not burned, the boughs were not broken;
The day shines like glass, but it isn't enough.
Fine, isn't it? That's his poem.
Why are you evading things? "Fine" indeed!
It makes me sick to look at you.
You can't imagine how glad I am that we made it.
Your conduct was exemplary.
You're fine, honest men. I'm proud I was right.
So he's happy we got back. So happy he could choke.
Fate! Zone! So I'm a fine fellow.
Do you think I didn't see you offer me two long matches?
You don't understand. No, of course not.
I'm sorry, Professor, but this louse chose you as his favorite.
What are you going on about?
He shoved me into the pipe because I'm a second-rate person.
Meat grinder! What a word!
What right have you to choose who lives, who goes into the meat grinder?
You made the choice.
What choice did I have — one of two long matchsticks?
Forget the matches.
Back by the metal nut, the Zone let you through to pass through the meat grinder.
Is that for you? Who knows?
I never choose. You can't imagine how terrible it is to make the wrong choice.
But someone has to go first.
Yes? No, this isn't the clinic.
Someone has to go first! How would you like it?
Don't touch it!
- Yes? Laboratory Nine, please.
I hope I haven't disturbed you. - What do you want?
Just a few words.
You hid it. I found it in the old building, Bunker 4.
Are you listening? - I'll inform the security service.
Go on! Inform on me, write a denunciation.
Set my colleagues against me. But you're late.
I'm just two steps away from the place itself.
Are you listening to me?
You realize this finishes you as a scientist?
So be happy.
Do you realize what happens if you dare?
Trying to scare me again?
Yes, all my life I've been scared. Even of you.
You don't scare me anymore.
My God, you're not even Herostratus.
You just wanted to trip me up because, 20 years ago, I slept with your wife.
You've finally managed to settle the score.
Go on, do your dirty work.
Don't dare hang up on me.
Prison isn't the worst thing that awaits you.
You'll never forgive yourself for this.
I can see you hanging from your belt over a prison latrine.
What are you up to, Professor?
Imagine what will happen when everyone believes in this Room...
...and when they all come hurrying here.
It's only a question of time. Not today, but tomorrow.
And in the thousands.
All these would-be emperors, grand inquisitors, fuhrers of all shades.
The so-called saviors of mankind!
And not for money or inspiration, but to remake the world.
I'll never bring that sort here. What do you understand?
You're not the only stalker in the world.
No stalker knows what ideas the people you bring here take away with them.
The number of motiveless crimes is growing.
Isn't that your work?
What about the military coups?
The mafia in the governments, couldn't they be your clients?
What about the lasers, the deadly bacteria hidden away in vaults for the time being?
Stop this sociological drivel!
Do you really believe in these fairy tales?
Not in the good ones, but in the terrifying ones, yes.
Just stop it.
No single individual can have enough hatred or love to spread over all mankind.
You desire money, a woman. Or you want your boss to get run over.
That's neither here nor there.
But world domination, a just society, the kingdom of heaven on earth.
Those aren't desires, but an ideology, actions, concepts.
Subconscious compassion cannot yet be realized as a common instinctive desire.
You can't be happy at the expense of others' unhappiness.
I see you've decided to smash humanity with some inconceivable boon.
Yet I'm completely calm.
I'm not worried about you or myself or mankind.
Nothing will come of it.
At best, you'll receive your Nobel Prize...
...or more probably something quite inconceivable which you haven't even thought about.
You dream of one thing and get something quite different.
Why did you do that?
A telephone, electricity.
Look, sleeping pills.
This sort isn't prescribed anymore. Where did they come from?
Shall we go there?
It'll soon be evening, too dark to get back.
By the way, I can see that all this poetry reciting and walking around is a new, original way of apologizing.
I understand you.
A difficult childhood environment.
But don't fool yourself.
I don't forgive you.
Professor, come here.
Just a moment. No need to rush.
I'm not rushing anywhere.
Don't get angry.
But I have to tell you.
We're now standing at the threshold.
This is the most important moment... in your life.
You must know that...
...your most cherished desire will come true here.
Your sincerest wish, the desire that has made you suffer most.
There's no need to speak.
You must only... concentrate and recall all your past life.
When a man thinks of the past, he becomes kinder.
But the main thing —
The main thing is...
...you must believe.
Who wants to go first?
Me? No, I don't want to.
I know it's not easy.
But don't worry. That will soon pass.
I'm not sure... that it will.
Firstly, if I begin to recall my life...
...I shall hardly become kinder.
And then, can't you see how shameful all this is?
To humiliate yourself.
To snivel and to pray.
What's bad about praying?
That's your pride speaking.
Relax. You're just not ready. That happens.
Perhaps you'll go first?
Voilà! Here we have the professor's new invention.
A device for testing the human soul. A soul meter.
It's just a bomb.
You're joking. No.
It's just a 20-kiloton bomb.
I assembled it with some friends.
With some former colleagues.
This place, evidently, won't bring anyone happiness.
And if it falls into evil hands...
However, I really don't know now.
Once we had the idea...
...that the Zone should not be destroyed.
Even if it was a miracle, it was a part of nature.
And in a certain sense, it means hope.
They hid this bomb, but I've found it.
It's an old building, Bunker 4.
Obviously there must be a principle — never to perform irreversible actions.
I understand that. I'm no maniac.
But as long as this canker is open to any scoundrel...
...there can be no rest.
Maybe something inside us won't permit it?
Poor guy, he's made himself a problem.
Give it to me.
Give it to me!
You're an intelligent man.
What's that for? You hypocritical louse!
Why — Why are you doing this to me?
He wants to destroy your hope.
There's nothing else left to people on Earth.
This is the only place to come to when all hope is gone.
You have to come here. Then why destroy hope?
I see through you.
You don't give a damn about others.
You earn your money from our... misery.
It's not even the money. You enjoy this.
Here you're czar and God.
You louse, you decide who's to die and who's to live.
He chooses, he decides.
I know why the stalker himself never enters the Room.
What for? You're drunk with power out here.
With mystery! With authority!
That's not true. You're wrong.
A stalker is forbidden to enter the Room.
Especially for his own selfish reasons.
Yes, I'm a louse.
I've never achieved anything, and I can't do anything here.
I have nothing to give my wife.
I can't have any friends, but don't deprive me of what's mine.
They took everything from me behind the barbed wire.
Everything I have is here.
Here, in the Zone.
My happiness, my freedom, dignity. They're all here.
The people I bring are unhappy like me.
They've nothing left to hope for. Nobody can help them.
But I can — a louse. A louse can help them!
I weep for joy because I can help them.
I ask for nothing more.
I don't know. Maybe.
Anyway, forgive me, but — You're simply one of God's fools.
You've no conception of what's happening here.
Why do you think Porcupine hanged himself?
He came to the Zone for profit, and his brother died for money.
I understand that, but why did he hang himself?
Why didn't he come back? Not for money, but for his brother.
Is that how he repented?
He wanted to. But within a few days, he hanged himself.
He realized that it is one's most secret desire that is granted here.
What are you yelling about?
What comes true here is that which reflects the essence of your nature.
It is within you. It governs you.
Yet you are ignorant of it.
You've understood nothing. Greed didn't do Porcupine in.
He crawled on his knees to plead for his brother, but he got a pile of money.
He couldn't get anything else.
Porcupine was given the essence of his true nature.
Conscience and soul-searching were all invented by the mind.
When he realized all that, he hanged himself.
I won't go into your Room.
I don't want to pour the filth in my soul onto anyone's head — even yours — and then hang myself as Porcupine did.
Better to stay grunting in my stinking private villa.
You're a bad judge of human nature if you bring people like me into the Zone.
How did you learn that this miracle actually exists?
Who told you that desires really come true here?
Do you know one man who was made happy here?
And who told you about the Zone, about Porcupine, about this Room?
I don't understand anything at all.
What's the sense in coming here?
It's so still.
Can you hear it?
Suppose I chuck it all in...
...get my wife and Monkey and come here to live...
There's nobody here.
No one will hurt them.
You came back.
Where did the dog come from?
It tagged along. Don't chase it away.
Well, shall we go?
Are we going?
Does anybody want a dog?
I've got five already.
So you like dogs?
All right, let's go.
If you only knew how tired I am.
Only God knows.
They still call themselves the intelligentsia.
Writers! Scientists! Calm down.
They don't believe in anything.
Their capacity for faith has atrophied — Calm yourself. ...through lack of use.
Stop it. Come, lie down. Don't worry.
It's damp. You can't stay here.
Take it off.
My God, what kind people are they?
Calm down. It isn't their fault.
They should be pitied, not abused.
Their eyes are blank.
They're thinking how not to sell themselves cheap, how to get paid for every breath they take.
They know they were born to "be someone," to be an elite!
They say, "You live but once."
How can such people believe in anything at all?
Try to get some sleep.
Go to sleep.
Nobody believes. Not only those two.
Who shall I take there?
The most terrible thing...
...is that nobody needs that Room and all my efforts are in vain.
Why do you say that? Don't.
I'll never go there again with anyone.
If you want, I'll go there with you. Do you want that?
Do you think I've nothing to ask for?
You mustn't. Why?
What if you fail, too?
You know, Mama was very opposed to it.
You've probably already guessed that he's one of God's fools.
Everyone around here used to laugh at him.
He was such a wretched muddler.
Mama used to say, "He's a stalker, a marked man, an eternal jailbird.
Remember the kind of children stalkers have."
I didn't even argue.
I knew all about it — that he was a marked man, a jailbird, about the kids.
Only what could I do?
I was sure I'd be happy with him.
I knew there'd be a lot of sorrow.
But I'd rather know bittersweet happiness...
...than a gray, uneventful life.
Perhaps I invented all this later.
But when he came up to me and said, "Come with me," I went.
And I've never regretted it.
There was a lot of grief and fear and pain.
But I've never regretted it nor envied anyone.
It's just fate.
It's life. It's us.
And if there were no sorrow in our lives, it wouldn't be better.
It would be worse.
Because then there would be no happiness either.
And there'd be no hope.
I love those eyes of yours, my friend, Their sparkling, flashing, fiery wonder;
When suddenly those lids ascend, Then lightning rips the sky asunder;
You swiftly glance, and there's an end;
There's greater charm, though, to admire When lowered are those eyes divine In moments kissed by passion's fire;
When through the downcast lashes shine The smoldering embers of desire...