❰Read❯ ➪ Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room Author Geoff Dyer – Papercuts.co

From A Writer Whose Mastery Encompasses Fiction, Criticism, And The Fertile Realm Between The Two, Comes A New Book That Confirms His Reputation For The UnexpectedIn Zona, Geoff Dyer Attempts To Unlock The Mysteries Of A Film That Has Haunted Him Ever Since He First Saw It Thirty Years Ago Andrei Tarkovsky S Stalker, Widely Regarded As One Of The Greatest Films Of All Time Every Single Frame, Declared Cate Blanchett, Is Burned Into My Retina As Dyer Guides Us Into The Zone Of Tarkovsky S Imagination, We Realize That The Film Is Only The Entry Point For A Radically Original Investigation Of The Enduring Questions Of Life, Faith, And How To Live In A Narrative That Gives Free Rein To The Brilliance Of Dyer S Distinctive Voice Acute Observation, Melancholy, Comedy, Lyricism, And Occasional Ill Temper Zona Takes Us On A Wonderfully Unpredictable Journey In Which We Try To Fathom, And Realize, Our Deepest Wishes Zona Is One Of The Most Unusual Books Ever Written About Film, And About How Art Whether A Film By A Russian Director Or A Book By One Of Our Most Gifted Contemporary Writers Can Shape The Way We See The World And How We Make Our Way Through It


10 thoughts on “Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room

  1. says:

    about 15 yrs ago, while working at kim s underground in nyc, i met the great russian poet yevgeny yevtushenko at the time i knew him only as the screenwriter of i am cuba so we dished on cinema i m pretty sure my snotty little fauxpunk former self convinced him to rent just one of the guys and he spoke for a bit about his friendship with andrei tarkovsky the highlight, of course, when he referred to tarkovsky as the saddest man i have ever met to put this statement in perspective, yevtushenko was running around the USSR when stalin was running the show yikes only in my 20s did i have the stamina to watch stuff like stalker and i really ate it up i once sat through all 4 hrs of the mother and the whore at the guggenheim, took in all 14 hrs of berlin alexanderplatz in under 24 hrs, and practically camped out at the MOMA to watch hour after glorious goddamn hour of godard s histoire du cinema now shit, man i m lucky if i can muster the focus to make it through an hourlong episode of breaking bad the irony, of course, is that i probably didn t have the life experience back then to fully get those films, to have them truly impact my brain and heart in the way the filmmaker intended but fuck intent those films as with most things we fall for in our 20s are an integral part of who i am bresson and bergman inform my outlook on life as much than the lessons taught by most real life encounters of my 20s liv ullman s face as she steps on that shard of glass has as strong a hold on my heart as ginger s a real life girlfriend when she told me to get lost the silence of au hasard balthazar as stirring as the muted sounds of the ramones while snorting lines in the bathroom of cherry tavern that youth is wasted on the young line sounds nice, but it s a load of cockshit youth might mean not being able to recognize how great you have it, but the purity with which life and art can directly and unfilteredly punch your soul than makes up for it.


  2. says:

    Only encountered Tarkovsky s Stalker earlier this year, and while not prostrate with admiration the deliberate snail s pace caused my watching companion to doze off , the movie was captivating in a manner difficult to express, leading me to this magnificent pr cis, analysis, explication, and personal take from the conversational, erudite, impish, and serious novelist and essayist Geoff Dyer, who articulates the fascinating philosophical conundrums at the heart of the movie, while digressing in the hilarious manner of Out of Sheer Rage and other non fiction works, offering up trivia and light scholarship to please casual and muso readers alike.


  3. says:

    I love books about a single movie two recent corkers were Chain Saw Confidential and The Disaster Artist, both written by actors But those short love letter to my favourite film books are good too, like Withnail I and Meet Me in St Louis in the BFI Film Classics series In those kind of books you get to find out who was doing what with who to get the part Lucille Bremer as Judy s sister and who nearly got the part Shirley Temple for Dorothy in Wizard of Oz Of course and all that Hilarious So this book is by a guy who wrote one of my real favourite book about books, which is Out of Sheer Rage. That is a book about how Geoff didn t write a book about DH Lawrence Geoff Dyer is all about the meta But he s chatty with it So here in this book Zona Geoff gets to write about his favourite movie And I thought, in the words of Jeremy Clarkson, what could possibly go wrong This Dyer guy has got it made He seems to have been given a contract by his publisher which says just write about whatever stray idea and whimsical notion that pops into your head and we ll slap it between two covers Don t think twice So he writes about jazz, DH Lawrence, Venice, World War One, John Berger, Paris, and on and on You don t have to like or know much about DH Lawrence to enjoy Out of Sheer Rage. You just have to be able to empathise with a guy endlessly putting off something which he himself volunteered to do and which has now become a crushing burden. We ve all been there However, in Zona, we have a very detailed account of this movie called Stalker by Tarkovsky and really, you hafta have seen it, which so far, I haven t I thought I could wing it But really, this movie sounds dull Boring people doing boring things boringly You re going to say but that is a perfect description of all Eric Rohmer movies, of which I am a big fan Well, boring is a personal thing After all, some people think books are boring Imagine that So I got to page 80 and set it down What I really want to do is watch Goto, Island of Love That s a 1969 movie by Walerian Borowczyk which I saw once in an art house years ago always wanted to see again and looked for in vain until last week when I found it by accident in a discount shop called Fop two disc edition, couldn t believe it So here it sits but I m nervous it might turn out to be terrible I thought it was great back then, but who knows My former self did not have perfect taste I even had a Moodyblues album once Don t tell anyone.


  4. says:

    Here is a book about a movie No, let me rephrase that Here is a discursive, personal, digressive, long winding, breezy, ponderous, chatty, observant, essayistic commentary blog post of a book about a movie, Tarkovsky s Stalker It is about the movie in the most obvious sense it is a summary, nay, that s not it, like as Dyer would put it it is an expansion and a commentary of the movie, bit by bit reconstruction of every scene with running comments about the production footnoted , about the author himself, about works of art, about life You should read it You should not read it unless you ve seen the movie, probably But then, you should have seen the movie already, shouldn t you This might end up being the book you should have read about the movie you should have seen Just another reminder of your colossal failure as a human being then Um, anyway.I read it and enjoyed it I probably enjoyed it just as much for itself as for the very idea of reading it this book about the movie that movie, the very great movie that affirms my taste as a cinephile simply for my recognizing it as a masterpiece, having seen it only twice and having it seared in my visual memory So I was predisposed to liking this book, because it affirms that I am in on it I know what the journey to the room is I think So there.Yes, if you ve seen Stalker this book will cater to your ego, there s no point in fighting it Regardless of whether you ve seen the movie or not, this book will most likely shuffle your Things I Want To Do Most Of All Right Now list and put Watching Stalker in the Top 3 Top 3 applicable only if you ve been severely neglecting some bits from the bottom of Maslow s pyramid of needs.


  5. says:

    Stalker is astounding to me, as are most of Tarkovsky s films But reading this book is nearly the opposite experience of watching the film Stalker is a suspenseful, hypnotic experience Tarkovsky sustains a rich feeling of beauty and simple profundity, inspiring confidence in the viewer that he will not let you fall or waste your time by negating the trust built up between you The suspense of this book, on the other hand, lies in dreading the next inane observation or mundane association from the author s personal life, most of which take the form of a running parallel text of footnotes, pretty much all of which should have been mercifully deleted Dyer claims to love the film, but seems to secretly resent its hold on him He recounts the film scene by scene only to repeatedly drag it down to the snide, mediocre realm that he lives in There are a few appreciative passages, the relative depth of which are mostly borrowed from the film itself, but they are quickly and consistently defaced with Dyer s smug, subjective digressions that are so embarrassingly puerile at times they nauseated me as much as the mean spirited blog postings that inundate the Internet.Dyer s conceit, of course, is that he is no better than one of the small minded characters in the film The book is his own personal journey to the Room, where, like Writer, he would be thrown back onto himself and forced to confront what a self absorbed person he really is The problem is that the film characters are embedded in a philosophical, cinematic world that perfectly balances their subjective pettiness In Dyer s book, it s all him Stalker and Tarkovsky deserve better than this A lot better.


  6. says:

    Every blue moon, an artwork comes along that seems like it s aimed solely at you Something so specific to your particular interests that it s difficult to imagine an audience for it larger than one For me, that work is I m Not There, a movie about Bob Dylan minutiae that s structurally inspired by vintage Godard films On the surface, Zona looked like another one of those works A favorite writer devoting an entire book to my favorite film by the dauntingly arty Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky How did this thing even get published Geoff Dyer turns out to be less obsessively hermetic about his subject and less concerned with trying to embody its visionary essence than Todd Haynes in I m Not There, which is maybe why the book felt like a slight letdown to me But I suspect that s good news for 99% of readers, because Dyer s droll and chatty narrative aims to be entertaining even if you have no prior knowledge of the film So many critics treat Tarkovsky s work like forbidding and sacred ikons of Great Cinema This book s most significant achievement is making Stalker feel accessible and genuinely exciting without dumbing it down The film is a deathless masterpiece, sure, but getting a clenched asshole trying to solemnly decode its mysteries is the exact wrong way to approach it Instead of going on about the many virtues and few flaws of this fine book, I recommend checking out J Hoberman s review which eerily elucidates many of my own reactions plus a few I didn t even know I had.


  7. says:

    What we have here is a triptych three linked works of art, one based on the other First there was Boris and Arkady Strugatsky s Roadside Picnic 1972 , perhaps the most memorable of their science fiction novels Then came Andrei Tarkovsky s film Stalker 1979 , ostensibly based on it and, in fact, employing the Strugatsky brothers as screenwriters Now there is Geoff Dyer s long essay entitled Zona A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room This last is in a genre by itself, an extended commentary retelling the story of the film with lengthy footnoted riffs about how the film has impacted Dyer s life and imagination.All three works are masterpieces in their own right I have now read both books as well as seen the film, and I yearn to reacquaint myself with all three of them Is there something perhaps a little perverse about writing a ruminative essay about something that comes from something else Have we somehow put ourselves too many removes from the original work by the Strugatsky brothers Or does it matter, inasmuch as both Stalker and Zona are totally absorbing, as was Roadside Picnic.Perhaps I should draw back a little and give you some idea of the world of the composite work of art I think of as The Roadside Stalker Zone We are some time in the future, in a grimy post industrial wasteland in a small country near an area once visited by extraterrestrials who just happened, for whatever reason, to leave strange inexplicable things behind including a room which, if you enter it, grants all your innermost desires Never mind that the only known person to have visited it, named Porcupine, hanged himself shortly thereafter These zones formerly visited by the extraterrestrials who have all moved on without getting their visas stamped have been sealed off by the authorities But there is an active black market of individuals called stalkers who take people to visit the zones and perhaps bring some things back things which are inexplicable The children of these stalkers are themselves strange, like Monkey, the film s Stalker s daughter, who has the power of telekinesis, which we do not learn until the very end of the film.Stalker takes two individuals, referred to only as the professor and the Writer, into the zone Their journey is a journey of self discovery Do they enter the room I do not wish to spoil the story for you, so I urge you to consume the entire triptych, in order of publication or release, to come to the same realization that I have arrived at That Geoff Dyer is a phenomenal writer whose work I am going to enjoy reading in the months and years to come.


  8. says:

    Over the RainbowThe premise of Zona is that there exists a Zone which houses a mystical room a room where your deepest desire will manifest That s the pared down version of Dyer s short book but Zona is the antithesis of pared It s lush with references to movies and books It also has philosophic and art and music highlights though not as numerous No one has a real name They have titles that refer to their functions Stalker, Writer and Professor are the main protagonists Ostensibly the book is an analysis of Tarkovsky s movie Stalker made in 1979 Many people feel it s the best movie ever I haven t seen it so I can t say My feeling is that Dyer only used the movie to hang his vast knowledge of the arts and his thoughts on life and the human condition in general The movie is also a symbol, an understudy for whatever work of art has been a high point for individuals That book or movie, often read or seen early in life, that slaps us awake He talks of watching stalker over and over, obsessing on the bits and pieces in the background and foreground pondering their importance and finally deciding they mean nothing yet he can t help continuing to seek some meaning Similarly all his cultural references could be seen as red herrings That s not to say that the works don t have value They do In the end, however, each person has to decide for themselves what they value, who they choose to be and importantly whether they let themselves have their heart s desire Dyer s humor kept splashing out when I least expected it I found myself chuckling quite often He details how the movie switches from black and white and back, the same technique used in The Wizard of Oz to me, this reflects how our lives alternately go from high points to boredom and sometimes to woe Dyer uses the cultural high points he s digested to mirror the emotional impact of life events His best bits and some of the funniest were when his reflections on writing and writers He has the ability and humility to laugh at himself He s at his best in those passages Zona takes a lot of concentration to read but it s well worth it.


  9. says:

    I haven t read the book Nevertheless, I started my preparation for reading it See below, how.I am indebted to Geoff Dyer, due to his recent first visit to Portugal and the interview he gave to the newspaper Publico 31st of May 2013 In it he spoke about several things the publication in Portuguese of Yoga for People Who Can t Be Bothered to Do It, its content.but also about Zona a sort of literary meditation The interview triggered all that follows, in the present text.Watching Tarkovsky s movie Stalker and the debate Geoff Dyer participated in New York , made me write these notes reflections on an important movie, not so much discussed as it deserves, I guess The slow film was made in 1979 It ran the risk of almost not being made, just like Coppola s Apocalypse now and Hertzog s Fitzcarraldo Geoff saw it in 1981 and got overwhelmed by its power The movie was shot in Estonia There were three replacements of the photography directorand a heart attack It was based on a 1971 short novel Roadside picnic, by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky Geoff said that Stalker is a tragic apostle character, a believer in the Zone When being made, someone criticized the way the film began Iit should be sped up, but Tarkovsky got it even slower It is known that Tarkovsky was persecuted by the Soviet system But even in Mirror another film by Tarkovksky we can talk of a West market censorship, Geoff commented The movie opens with a quotation from Nobel prize winner Wallace What was it a meteorite a visit of inhabitants of the cosmic abyss One way or another our small country has seen the birth of a miracle, the Zone At Stalker s bedroom we watch his wife still in bed.with daughter Monkey They got a mutant daughter, whose head is covered by a colored scarf, later on we will get to know, because part of the movie is ran on black and white Color is a later event.One of the initial scenes takes place in a sort of a gloomy wet floor bar where the three main characters the Stalker, the Professor and the Writer talk about several issues The Writer talks about the world being boring there s no Bermuda triangle the Zone being the product of an advanced civilization Previously, the Stalker had been introduced to a lady who asked him are you really a Stalker , but she was dismissed by the Stalker go The Professor is a physicist The Writer doesn t give a damn about inspiration He wonders why do you need the Zone The Stalker recalls a character Porcupine he was my teacher, and opened my eyes The three get ready for the voyage to the Zone They use a jeep and they try to evade police guards, patrolling the site They manage to enter the place, though.The Zone is a place where wishes come true 20 years ago a meteorite fell here , it was never found, but people began disappearing In the Zone there s a ROOM they try to reach which will give you anything you want As long it s your innermost wishes they ll will be made real here We are home it s the quietest place, because there s not a single soul.Stalker had got a religious reverence for the Zone it s meant to be respected And yet the Zone is a very complicated system of deadly traps While travelling through a desolated area they stop for rest Stalker falls asleep and lying down on the grass listens to a voice The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind wrath of the Lamb Revelation 6 12 There are plenty of discussions between the three characters For example about music It gets through our hearts , says someone While they re going through a tunnel, Stalker recalls to the others no guns allowed here The Writer had tried to use one Soon they ll find that the Professor carries in his bag a Bomb it s only a bomb a 20 kilotons one, justifies the professor He ll disassemble it later on.Now they re close to the Room Amazingly, the Writer refuses to go into the Room The same with the Professor A Stalker must not enter the Room In fact, nobody entered the Room None of them really wanted their innermost wishes fulfilled They re back on the bar, drinking The Stalker s wife enters the place and says so you re back At home Stalker tells his wife he s tired He s lying down on a sort of library floor, book shelves as backdrop Now he s is about to rest He sadly complains to wife nobody believes the Zone He s asleep The wife monologues he s a Stalker.he s not of this world.She had been told by her husband you cannot go there He doubted her wishes could come true Daughter Monkey is seated at a table reading a book Then her attention gets drawn to the drink glasses on top of table She focuses her thought on one of them and succeeds moving it by the power of her thought Telekinesis And another one glass gets moved The 9th symphony of Beethoven can be heard.as well as the train passing nearby the Stalker s home The Stalker brought something from the Zone a dog.I have read some commentaries on the movie One possible way of interpreting the Zone, is that it s a prophetic anticipation of Chernobyl Another one also plausible a collective rumination on the nuclear accident which really happened in Chelyabinsk, back in 1957 Either way the movie goes well beyond science fiction In my view, it s mainly a piece of art, a cinematic probe into the inner world wishing world of humans Just like Tarkovsky stated I am interested in man he contains a universe within himself.A note of admiration for the flute music For insights, an article by Geoff, on the meanings of the movie http www.guardian.co.uk film 2009 feb 06 andrei tarkovsky stalker russia gulags chernobylhttps www.theparisreview.org blog 2https www.theparisreview.org letter


  10. says:

    A small book which uses a close watching of Tarkovsky s classic 1979 film Stalker as the locus of thoughts direct and tangential about the art of the great Russian director and the life of the author in the film s journey towards The Room, a place where people s deepest desires comes true The film, if you haven t seen it, is a slog through a soggy, post industrial wreck of a landscape a Tarkovsky film is always marked by the strong presence of the elements In this film, water is everywhere water being both the symbol of the emotional life, and the unconscious, though Dyer keeps that door tightly sealed, arguing for the absence of symbolism in the work of Tarkovsky just as Tarkovsky himself used to argue, disingenuously, I think Obscure maybe, uncertain for sure, but not absent.But Dyer s book is not exactly a study of the art of Andrei Tarkovsky, the way the director frames a shot and so on, though he does touch on that material But Zona uses the successive scenes of Stalker as a springboard to a series of a delightful, discursive meditations on the ideas, associations and reactions of Geoff Dyer a writer of tremendous erudition, humor and obsessionally , connections to other films of Tarkovsky s, thoughts on film and filmmakers, Dyer s extensive knowledge of the history of cinema and his own personal history of filmgoing as well as wonderfully weird connections to his family life growing up in England, philosophical musings about the film in terms of authors whose books specifically refer to its urgent questions, say of hope and hopelessness at the heart of the Stalker tale.A Stalker is a devotee, who sees as his calling leading desperate men to the Room, which divines their deepest wish and makes it come true The action of the film is the Stalker leading two people, somewhat Beckettian ly named Writer and Professor, into the forbidden Zone sealed off with barbed wire at the heart of which is The Room Dyer s meditations on the Zone, what it is, cast the net wide, and all seem plausible The Zone is sort of a reverse Gulag the barbed wire and guards are there to keep people out instead of in The Zone was invaded by Soviet tanks, like Czechoslovakia The Zone with its overtones of Chernobyl Or that it was created because we needed to believe in it.My favorite parts of this winding book often but not always page divided into lengthy amusing footnotes running across the bottom of several pages full of associational material, as when Dyer s mind jumps from something high minded in the text to some very personal and down to earth aspect of his own life For instance, he goes from a deep description of a scene in a dilapidated Tarkovskyian bar which begins the film, talking about the Room In the dinner conversation between Andre and Wally in My Dinner With Andre , Dyer is always Wally At the heart of the Zone is the Room, a place where we will learn later your deepest wish will come true, but one gets the impression that this room is his Room, that his deepest wish is being catered for right here, chain swilling beer A sentiment shared in many men on this thirsty earth of ours When I was a boy my dad would come home from work, after the summer holidays, full of disgust for his workmates, who had been on holiday somewhere and had spent the entire time at the bar or round a swimming pool, drinking, either in Spain or some other place where the licensing laws were not as repressive as in England That was their deepest desire and wish We rarely went anywhere on holiday because my dad s deepest desire was always to save money and the best place to do this, to avoid the temptations of knickerbocker glories and overpriced choc ices was not to leave our home, the room where money come in, very slowly, but left every reluctantly and so it goes, including quotes from Camus, Flaubert, thoughts of beer, Hollywood cinema a brilliant, multidimensional meditation that returns obsessively, faithfully, to the mysterious universe of Tarkovsky s Stalker.