"In all my pictures the theme of roots was always of great importance: links with family house, childhood, country, Earth. I always felt it important to establish that I myself belong to a particular tradition, culture, circle of people or ideas.
Of great significance to me are those traditions in Russian culture which have their beginnings in the work of Dostoyevsky. Their development in modern Russia is patently incomplete; in fact they tend to be looked down upon, or even ignored altogether. There are several reasons for this: first their total incompatability with materialism, and then the fact that the spiritual crisis experienced by all Dostoyevsky’s characters (which was the inspiration of his work and that of his followers) is also viewed with misgiving. Why is this state of ‘spiritual crisis’ so feared in contemporary Russia?
I believe that it is always through spiritual crisis that healing occurs. A spiritual crisis is an attempt to find onself, to acquire new faith. It is the apportioned lot of everyone whose objectives are on the spiritual plane. And how could it be otherwise when the soul yearns for harmony, and life is full of discordance. This dichotomy is the new stimulus for movement, the source at once of our pain and of our hope: confirmation of our spiritual depths and potential.
This, too, is what Stalker is about: the hero goes through moment of despair when his faith is shaken; but every time he comes to a renewed sense of his vocation to serve people who have lost their hopes and illusions. I felt it was very important that the film observe the three unities of time, space and action. If in Mirror I was interested in having shots of newsreel, dream, reality, hope, hypothesis and reminiscence all succeeding one another in that welter of situations which confronts the hero with the ineluctable problems of existence, in Stalker I wanted there to be no time lapse between the shots. I wanted time and its passing to be revealed, to have their existence, within each frame; for the articulations between the shots to be the continuation of the action and nothing more, to involve no dislocation of time, not to function as a mechanism for selecting and dramatically organising the material - I wanted it to be as if the whole film had been made in a single shot. Such a simple and ascetic approach seems to me to be rich in possibilities. I eliminated all I could from the script in order to have a minimum of external effects. As a matter of principle I wanted to avoid distracting or surprising the audience with unexpected changes of scene, with the geography of the action, with elaborate plot - I wanted the whole composition to be simple and muted.
More consistently than ever I was trying to make people believe that cinema as an instrument of art has its own possibilities which are equal to those of prose. I wanted to demonstrate how cinema is able to observe life, without interfering, crudely or obviously, with its continuity. For that is where I see the poetic essence of cinema."