The Solaris mission has established a base on a planet that appears to host some kind of intelligence, but the details are hazy and very secret. After the mysterious demise of one of the three scientists on the base, the main character is sent out to replace him. He finds the station run-down and the two remaining scientists cold and secretive. When he also encounters his wife who has been dead for ten years, he begins to appreciate the baffling nature of the alien intelligence.Written by
A print was screened at the Cinema Village theater in New York City in the mid-1980s that combined an English-dubbed version of the film with sequences from a Russian-language print. This version also featured cheesy 1970s-era titles. Around this time, this was considered the most complete version of the film available in the United States. It was not until the re-opening of New York's Film Forum theatre in 1989 that the complete and uncut Russian-language version was shown there theatrically. See more »
When Kris is standing in the rain near the beginning of the film the camera tilts down to the table to show a coffee cup and various other items. The cut to the next shot of Kris shows him to have moved (which seems reasonable as a small amount of time has elapsed) but all the items on the table are now in a different configuration. See more »
When man is happy, the meaning of life and other eternal themes rarely interest him. These questions should be asked at the end of one's life.
But we don't know when life will end. That's why we're in such a hurry.
Don't rush. The happiest people are those who are not interested in these cursed questions.
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The Russian state film archive has a longer print that runs about 190 minutes. Deleted scenes from that version including mirror room presented on Criterion DVD See more »
This is my favourite film and possibly the best film ever made. It's impossible to put into words what I feel about this beautiful poem. Certainly it is uniquely brilliant artistically and seems to be different every time you view it, the dynamics and emotions of the characters shifting hypnotically. It has the feel of a painting in a gallery and the photography is almost expressionist. It really has to be viewed at the cinema only.
There was a very clever ad campaign to this film stating it was the Russian 2001. So us ten year olds went to see it thinking we were going to see a special effects extravaganza, and instead we saw, what seemed as a child, interminable shots of lilly's and weeds. It went over our heads but I never forgot the score and its haunting melancholia. Apparently Tarkovsky had a bad time making this film and fell out with his cinematographer. Stanislav Lem also disliked the way Tarkovsky changed the book's theme of optimism in exploring space to one of scepticism in the film. Tarkovsky felt that finally what mattered was the theme of love, that is, doing moral good in the universe, love of family or country, or the place of one's birth. The beginning of one's journey which one always returns to in one's mind which was evocatively shown in the film's climax by the lake, surely one of the great movie moments ever and terribly moving. His ultimate concern was the question of a man's soul which he is unable to deal with while striving for technological betterment. Ultimately he hoped man would reach a stage where he would solely be able to explore his spirituality.
I think with all this polemic Tarkovsky missed the fact that this film works as a beautiful love story. If you could turn the clock back there would be no moral life. But in giving Kelvin a second chance to find a greater truth, Tarkovsky also allows us a rare glimpse of love's majesty before it is sullied. The scenes where Kelvin begs Khari's forgiveness and levitates in her arms are the film's great triumphs. His use of Bach is also unforgettable. Unfairly accused of being po-faced, there is also a lot of wise humour in this film if you care to look for it.
This film inexplicably does not appear on many, if any, all time great lists. It does have some Sci-Fi nonsense of the day about bombarding the ocean with radiation, whatever that's supposed to do, but does not prevent this film being one of the great masterpieces of cinema. Recently Time Out or Sight and Sound did a survey of the all time top 20 directors and Tarkovsky did not appear but Woody Allen did! There ain't no justice.
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