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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Tracing the Strugatsky Brothers

(click here for the Romanian version)

As you probably know, Stalker, the revered movie of Tarkovsky, is a very free adaptation after Roadside Picnic, a short SF novel written by Arkadi and Boris Strugatsky.

Actually the Strugatsky brothers also authored the screenplay for Stalker, however the link between movie and novel is loose. I could say that the movie starts where the novel ends, or rather that the film is built on the same basic situation (a place possibly visited by aliens), following then some new potentialities. Maybe first of all forcefully suggesting an ambiguity of the place: were they really aliens? or is it rather a scam constructed to mask some inconvenient truths? like a former zone for secret experiments? or a former labor camp? Also suggesting at a deeper level of understanding something beyond the story, touching the transcendental.

I read the novel in an almanac long time ago and it seemed to me that it was bringing forth an interesting hypothesis about aliens: namely that these extraterrestrial beings could be extremely different from humans, biologically speaking (for instance as minuscule as dragonflies are), thus their traces left on Earth would be totally senseless for us (the same way our own traces left in a journey outdoors would be senseless for, say, dragonflies, all those cigarette butts, empty cans, papers, used batteries and the like): for aliens or humans alike, just a roadside picnic.

Well, there are some people among us who have a special kind of sensitiveness: for them such roadside places come as carrying some strange energy and hiding secrets that wait to be deciphered - secrets just beyond the obvious.

Plese don't jump to hasty conclusions: I didn't loose my mind.  What I'm trying is to get the atmosphere of the story imagined by the Strugatsky brothers and to give you the same feeling.

MacArthur Boulevard in Maryland, some place between Brookmont and Glen Echo. The landscape down toward the Potomac reminded me suddenly of the Strugatsky brothers and their Roadside Picnic. Something seemed weird to me: the leaves, and the trees seemed too quiet, like waiting for something to happen, like hiding something too precious and too alien for us humans to understand.

(Arkady and Boris Strugatsky)


(Looking for the Old Trolley)

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