Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room

Michael Wood writes:

Dyer occasionally says his book offers a summary of the movie but then he decides that what he is after is ‘the opposite of a summary; it’s an amplification and expansion.’ In fact, the book isn’t a summary or its opposite, and it isn’t a commentary either, although that term gets us closer to what’s going on. Dyer doesn’t say this, but he has understood – in the way good readers and viewers always do – that description is interpretation, which is why, if you’re inclined to show films during lectures and classes, it’s helpful if the technology lets you down now and again: then you have to say what you have seen, instead of assuming everyone sees what you do just because they’re looking at the same screen. Zona is an intimate, engaging, often brilliant, sometimes slightly windy description of Stalker, with digressions that are only rarely real digressions, and are mainly casual but integral parts of the description itself. The book is a read in a double sense: a form of words that allows us to experience a version of Dyer’s experience but also to glimpse or remember the film that provokes and exceeds that experience.

(LRB 19 July 2012)

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