“Could I please get my burger grilled rare?” Schneider kindly asked the waiter at the Blockhouse restaurant in Karl-Liebknecht-Straße. But the waiter replied: “We always serve our burgers well done. This is according to German hygienic law.” Schneider didn’t understand: “But when I eat a burger at Hasir Burger or at Burgermeister’s, I always can get it rare.” But the German waiter replied: “I told you, this is the law!”
Back home in Berlin Neukölln with some friends, Schneider watched both Walt Disney’s Jungle Book and Andrej Tarkovsky’s Stalker in a row, while they enjoyed a bottle of Arneis. Impressed by the haunting and meditative narrative of Tarkovsky’s masterpiece, he asked himself the question why nobody is shooting films like that anymore.
A word about watching films over and over again: The first time, V2 Schneider had seen Stalker, he was sweet sixteen years old. Back then, he hadn’t understood a word of what the writer, the scientist and the stalker were talking about. He intuitively felt, however, that their discussions were elemental and essential, and that he maybe was too young to understand the problems of a pondering adult who live in a permanent state of doubt. Not to mention the visual language of the film, as overwhelming then as it is now.
Soviet officials were critical of the film when it was released in 1979. On being told that Stalker should be faster and more dynamic, Tarkovsky replied:
“The film needs to be slower and duller at the start so that the viewers who walked into the wrong theater have time to leave before the main action starts.”
The Goskino representatives then explained that they were only trying to give the point of view of the audience. Tarkovsky supposedly retorted:
Watching the film for the seventh time in his life, Schneider was especially moved by the scenes that take place in the bar. The neon tube is jittering. No music is being played. People that gather in this bar to drink beer are negotiating the principal things in life. You might call it an existentialist bar, even though Tarkovsky would certainly disagree, being the religious man that he is.
If V2 Schneider would ever open a bar, he would design it like this imaginary one. Of course, he wouldn’t open his bar in viewing distance of a nuclear power plant.