Dr. Gibarian, part of a team at a space station studying Solaris, makes an urgent and self-described bizarre video request to his friend, civilian psychiatrist Dr. Chris Kelvin, to come to the station to deal with an unspecified phenomenon aboard, that phenomenon with which Chris' experience and background may be able to explain and solve. Chris learns that his trip is sanctioned by the space program as a security force had been sent to the station to investigate, that security team which is now missing. When Chris arrives at the station, he finds only two surviving team members, Drs. Gordon and Snow (Dr. Gibarian committed suicide), who are both acting nervously. Chris also finds two unexpected people there, the first, who Chris only sees fleetingly, being Dr. Gibarian's adolescent son Michael, and the second being Chris' deceased wife, Rheya. Chris and Rheya had a passionate relationship in all its good and bad before she committed suicide. Apparently, these appearances of loved ... Written by
Soderbergh cast Jeremy Davies in the film after seeing a tape Davies made of himself playing Charles Manson. Davies was preparing to play Manson in an independent film. The tape was passed around within the film industry and became a popular bootleg. Davies eventually played Manson in Helter Skelter (2004). See more »
George Clooney is shown traveling in a sleek slightly futuristic rapid transit train but the rear projection/blue screen out the window clearly shows the current day "Merchandise Mart" station of the Chicago CTA Subway. Also during his journey the train he passes going the opposite direction is a present day subway train. See more »
[Chris's memories, in voiceover]
Chris, what is it? I love you so much. Don't you love me anymore?
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There are no credits at the beginning. All the credits are at the end of the film. See more »
It's emotions and reactions - terrifically engaging!
The state of human minds has always been so abstract and never easy an easy subject to comprehend. It's even more complex to decipher on screen. Nope, this film is not strictly a ghost story, nor is it a Star Trek adventure story to interest most science-fiction craving fans. Don't expect to see the usual Hollywood sweet romantic tale either! This film focuses on the psychological journey faced by the despaired and unstable minds. It's a film that totally relies on the characters' emotions and reactions. Awesome!
Has Steven Soderbergh succeeded in sprucing up Andrei Tarkovski's 1972 psychological cult sci-fi classic to make it worth the while to pay a regular price of a tix? Can't really say, as I've never seen the Russian version. But I was truly mesmerized by this film's approach to what, I think, is the study of human insanity slipping beyond saving.
The film is slow in pace and lengthy, with stretches of tedious silence, letting the imagination of the viewers try understand what happened to each of the characters seen, or heard. Silence comes with such intensity that it works very proficiently in this film. There are dazzlingly and ecstatically artistic visual moments to offer that dreamlike stance. At other times, Soderbergh provides a more solid spectrum allowing the viewers to grasp intellectually the conflicts faced by the human minds - Kelvin, Snow and Gordon - as a result of some traumatically emotional events. Viewers are told that Dr. Gibarian has already committed suicide. These may all be psychologists, but they all seem to exhibit signs of stress and paranoia. Oh yes, the psychological intent of the film's contents is truly complex and we are slowly led to see who will finally be capable of making the right choice, and escape insanity. Earth, presumably, is a symbol of normality!
It's about the existential exploration of the minds' sufferings, almost as if the memories of the human mind are being driven to a test. It's reliving a past and letting memories play tricks on the minds. It's living on regrets, hoping they could rewind the clock backward to bring about changes to events that are gradually driving the victims to complete madness. Indeed, a very haunting! Almost like the work of Bergman, Ophuls, Kubrick, and Welles, Soderbergh brings a well-crafted mysticism to the screen.... as if to to say that only one out of many entering a mental asylum can ever hoped to be cured. This film is very hypnotically effective and unique! Solaris - seemingly like an alien memory-stimulating anthropomorphic life form - is so eerily powerful on the screen. It's the `mirror that reflects' what the mind is not willing to forget. It's the driving force to the human insanity.
George Clooney is simply awesome. Follow his Kelvin as he deals with the issues of love, fear and death. It deals with his choice to throw away every memory of his past or to cling to them. That's to say he has the choice to allow his memories to manipulate him, or throw them out altogether. I find it hardly possible not to get totally absorbed with Clooney's character. Scary as it may sound, ghostly memories are never easy to shake off and thus lead men to more deadly conditions. Sometimes for these beings, their choice of death becomes their ultimate solution of finding peace. The performances of the ensemble of cast are solid, but the dialogue is the strength of the film, providing hints to what actually is happening to the characters.
An intriguingly engaging film - that's my opinion, of course! The narrative progression is nicely eloquent and the ending is impressive - providing the viewers with the feeling of having unraveled the mystery and capture the relief. It's certainly not a film for everybody... especially for those who dislike deciphering abstract ploys in films. Readers of Jung and Freud may find this film interesting as it supports the theory that conflict arises within the mind, mental health and illness, dominance, creativity and hearing voices. Fan of Clooney may miss his usual extraordinary charm and wit, but I'd say, thumbs up to him for his courageous choice to engage the viewers with his talent in exhibiting his emotional expressions.
A brilliant film!
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