Stalker (Russian: Ста́лкер; IPA: [ˈstɑlkʲɪr]) is a 1979 science fiction film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, with a screenplay written by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, loosely based on their novel Roadside Picnic. It depicts an expedition led by the Stalker to bring his two clients to a site known as the Zone, which has the supposed potential to fulfill a person’s innermost desires.
The title of the film, which is the same in Russian and English, is derived from the English word to stalk in the long-standing meaning of approaching furtively, much like a hunter. In the film a stalker is a professional guide to the zone, someone who crosses the border into the forbidden zone with a specific goal. The word was actually coined by the Strugatsky brothers for their novel “Roadside Picnic” (1972), as an allusion to Rudyard Kipling’s character Stalky from the “Stalky & Co.” stories. Сталки (stálki) was well remembered by the Strugatskys from their childhood, when they read the stories in Russian translation. In the “Roadside Picnic”, сталкер was a common nickname for men engaged in the illegal trade of prospecting for and smuggling of alien artifacts from the mysterious and dangerous “Zone”.