The Forbidden Zone
In Tarkovsky’s 1979 film Stalker, three men journey through the ‘Forbidden Zone’ – a damp, overgrown wasteland where the rules of nature no longer apply. Their goal is to reach a place within the ‘Zone’ (known as the ‘Room’) which is said to have the ability to fulfil a person’s innermost desires. The film was shot in various deserted power plants and chemical factories near Tallinn – the locations have since been renovated or repurposed.
Adventurers will experience a post-industrial wasteland gradually being reclaimed by nature, similar to that depicted in Tarkovsky’s masterpiece.
Belfast’s own Forbidden Zone
Belfast would seem to have its own ‘Forbidden Zone’ surrounding the site of Harland & Wolff, the same firm that built all of the ships intended for the White Star Line including the ill-fated RMS Titanic. As a working heavy industry, there is no public access to Harland & Wolff. However, the area around the razor-wired perimeter fence can be accessed easily enough and adventurers will experience a post-industrial wasteland gradually being reclaimed by nature, similar to that depicted in Tarkovsky’s masterpiece.
One Sunday morning I tried to enter by the main gate to H&W but was met by a suspicious security guard drinking from a ‘Pink Floyd – The Wall’ mug. He had left his gate lodge to meet me as I approached and after listening cautiously to my questions about the possibility of ‘having a cycle round the area’, warmed slightly and pointed me in the right direction i.e. the opposite direction.
One gets the sense […] that this area won’t stay like this for long
Rotting machinery, now meaningless road markings and the remains of long-ceased activity litter this place. Mounds of earth have become overgrown, pavements penetrated by weeds and although I saw no-one on my visit I found footprints and graffiti in unlikely places. I can’t quite explain why I love this part of the city but it has something to do with scale – everything down here is bigger: vast warehouses, empty expanses, big skies; it’s unlike anywhere else in Belfast. There’s also the exhilaration of entering what seems like unchartered territory. And finally, a feeling of fleetingness – one gets the sense, like those once abandoned power plants and factories in Stalker, that this area won’t stay like this for long.
These photos are the result of a recent photo-cycle (camera + bicycle) through the ‘Zone’…