Stalker: May everything come true. May they believe. And may they laugh at their 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's 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.
Writer: My conscience wants vegetarianism to win over the world. And my subconscious is yearning for a piece of juicy meat. But what do I want?
Writer: A man writes because he is tormented, because he doubts. He needs to constantly prove to himself and the others that he's worth something. And if I know for sure that I'm a genius? Why write then? What the hell for?
Writer: [subtitled version] While I am digging for the truth, so much happens to it that instead of discovering the truth I dig up a heap of, pardon... I'd better not name it.
Martha, Stalker's daughter: 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...
Stalker: Are you awake? You were talking recently about the meaning... of our... life... unselfishness of art... Let's take music... It's really least of all connected; to say the truth, if it is connected at all, then in an idealess way, mechanically, with an empty sound... Without... without associations... Nonetheless the music miraculously penetrates into the very soul! What is resonating in us in answer to the harmonized noise? And turns it for us into the source of great delight... And unites us, and shakes us? What is its purpose? And, above all, for whom? You will say: for nothing, and... and for nobody, just so. Unselfish. Though it's not so... perhaps... For everything, in the end, has its own meaning... Both the meaning and the cause...
Stalker's Wife: And there was a great earthquake. And the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair. And the moon became like blood... And the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up. And every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth and the great men and the rich and the chiliarchs and the strong and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"
Stalker: The Zone wants to be respected. Otherwise it will punish.
Stalker: 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.
Stalker: [the wagon stops, the scene is in color now] We are home!
Stalker: It is so quiet out here, it is the quietest place in the world.
Stalker: The Zone is a very complicated system of traps, and they're all deadly. I don't know what's going on here in the absence of people, but the moment someone shows up, everything comes into motion. Old traps disappear and new ones emerge. Safe spots become impassable. Now your path is easy, now it's hopelessly involved. That's the Zone. It may even seem capricious. But it is what we've made it with our condition. It happened that people had to stop halfway and go back. Some of them even died on the very threshold of the room. But everything that's going on here depends not on the Zone, but on us!
Writer: So it lets the good ones pass and kills the bad ones?
Stalker: I don't know. I think it lets those pass who have lost all hope. Not good or bad, but wretched people. But even the most wretched will die if they don't know how to behave. You have been lucky, it just warned you.
Stalker's Wife: 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. I knew 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 bitter-sweet happiness, than a grey, uneventful life. Perhaps I invented all this later. But when he come up to me and said: "Come with me", I went. And I've never regretted it. Never. 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'd be no happiness, either. And there'd be no hope.
Stalker: You can't be happy at the expense of other's unhappiness.
Stalker: I'll be back soon.
Stalker's Wife: 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.
Stalker: Prison? I'm imprisoned everywhere.
Writer: Listen, Chingachgook. You've brought so many people here.
Stalker: Not as many as I would like.
Writer: It doesn't matter. Why did they come? What were they after?
Stalker: Happiness, more than anything.
Writer: Yes, but what kind of happiness?
Stalker: People don't like to reveal their innermost thoughts. Anyway, that concerns neither you nor me.
Writer: You've been lucky. All my life, I have never seen one happy person.
Stalker: 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.
Writer: And you've never wanted to make use of this Room?
Stalker: I'm fine as I am.
Writer: Some bastard abuses you, you're hurt. A different bastard praises you, you're hurt.
Stalker's Wife: [sub-titled from Russian] Why did you take my watch?
Writer: 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.
Stalker: So you've been drinking?
Writer: 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.
Writer: I seldom think, it's bad for me.
Professor: It's impossible to write and keep thinking about success or failure?
Writer: Naturally. But on the other hand, if my books aren't being read in 100 years, why bother to write?
Writer: Tell me, Professor, why did you get involved in this business? What's the Zone to you?
Professor: Well, in a sense, I'm a scientist. What's in it for you? A fashionable author, women dropped all over you.
Writer: I've lost my inspiration. I'm going to beg for some.
Professor: So you've exhausted your talent?
Writer: What? Yes, in a way.
Professor: Stalking is a kind of vocation.
Writer: I imagined stalkers to be different.
Professor: How so?
Writer: Like Leatherstocking or Chingachgook or Big Snake.
Stalker: There's no going back. Nobody goes back the same way they came.
Writer: 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.
Writer: 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.
Professor Wallace: 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. The we surrounded the Zone with a security cordon. We did right. Although I'm not sure. I'm not sure.
Fine Lady with the Writer: You said that the Zone is the product of a super civilization...
Writer: Which is probably also boring, also with laws and triangles, but without goblins and, of course, without any God.
Stalker: Take it away.
Writer: Of course, the prohibition law. "Alcohol is the scourge of mankind." Let's drink beer then.
Writer: 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.
Writer: Won't they come after us?
Stalker: No, they're scared to death of it.
Writer: Of what?
Writer: 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.
Writer: The main thing is that the professor's rucksack and spare pants are safe.
Professor: Don't poke your nose into another guy's drawers - if you know what I mean.
Writer: No one in the world has a conception about the Zone, so it'll be a sensation. Television, you lady fans getting hot flashes, people carrying brooms as if they were laurel wreaths. Then our professor appears all in whit and declaims, "Mene, mene. Tekel upharsin." Naturally, everyone gapes and shouts, "Give him the Nobel Prize!"
Professor: You bedraggled hack writer. You homegrown psychologist. Fit only to scribble graffiti in lavatories, you talentless clod.
Writer: That's feeble stuff. Call that an insult? You don't know how it's done.
Professor: All right. Suppose I'm after a Nobel Prize. What are you after? Want to bestow on mankind the pearls of your bought inspiration?
Writer: I spit on mankind. In all of mankind, only one man interests me. And that's me. Am I worth anything or am I shit like certain other people?
Professor: What if you find out that's indeed what you are?
Writer: Know something, Einstein? I don't want to argue with you.
Professor: Truth is born in arguments, damn it.
Writer: 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?
Writer: 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?
Professor: What unselfishness are you talking about? People keep dying of hunger. Have you been living on the moon?
Professor: Why don't you teach me the meaning of life and, at the same time, how to think.
Writer: It's useless.
Writer: 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? It it's torture for me, a painful, shameful occupation, something akin to extruding hemorrhoids. I used to think my books helped people to become better, but nobody needs me. If I die, in a couple of days, they'll find someone else to devour. I wanted to change them, but they've changed me to fit their own image.
Stalker: You certainly are lucky. Now you'll live to be a hundred!
Writer: Why not forever? Like a Wandering Jew.
Stalker: 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.
Stalker: What are you up to, Professor?
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.
Stalker: I'll never bring that sort here.
Professor: 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.
Writer: You dream of one thing and get something quite different.
Stalker: 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.
Stalker: There's nothing else left to people on Earth. This is the only place to come to when all hope is gone.
Writer: What comes true here is that which reflects the essence of your nature. It is within you. It governs you.
Writer: You're a bad judge of human nature if you bring people like me into the Zone.