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

Michael Wood writes:

If we leave aside some notes and references at the back, Zona seems to close, appropriately, with a description of the end of a film: ‘her eyes, her watching eyes, and her face and head, resting on the table, watching us watching her, fading to black’. The film we have been seeing through these two hundred pages of Dyer’s memory and prose is Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979), a science fiction movie that doesn’t so much transcend the genre as pervert it, turn it over to the history of religion – or perhaps the history of doubt. The eyes belong to a girl described in the film as ‘a victim of the Zone’. Dyer has used the Russian word for his title, I take it, both to keep a touch of strangeness in the air and to avoid the echoes the English term might haphazardly call up: the name of a sci-fi magazine, various shopping centres up and down the country, a game show, and an early Britney Spears album. Tarkovsky’s Zone is another place.

(LRB 19 July 2012)

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