As much as I hate to be “that guy” that just immediately gives Solaris a perfect score after my first viewing; the raw, stripped down power of this cinematic creation simply must not go without the fullest extent of praise.
Andrei Tarkovsky‘s Solaris is a mammoth and groundbreaking masterpiece that often insists on drawing comparisons from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The two films are undeniably similar, both in genre and story, but Solaris feels far more philosophical and spiritual than the latter. Whereas Kubrick formulated an intense psychological game of cat and mouse with his space epic, Tarkovsky tackles the essentials of human life, love, and the general pursuit of happiness. The vastness of space is shown as an opportunity for commentary and life lessons, and just how insignificant we all are in the overall scheme of the universe.
A meditation on life, grief, loss, identity and the power of memory. Although aboard a technologically advanced craft, with its padded white walls, endless miles of electrical wires and blinking lights, the film is not concerned with technology or its science-fiction trappings. Instead it is deeply human and personal story with its discovery being an inner journey rather than an outer exploration. This contrast creates a very intriguing and provocative juxtaposition.
It can be maddeningly slow at times as if deliberately trying the viewer’s patience but once in tune with the film’s rhythms it is impossible to shake. As with all Tarkovsky’s films it is comprised of imagery that stay with you long past the closing credits – whether it is the ethereal beauty of its opening or the weightless embrace between Kris and his doppelganger wife – the film has a way of haunting you just as Kris is haunted by his spousal facsimile.
Solaris is a contemplative and challenging work but one that demands to be seen at least once in your lifetime.
Drama, Sci-fi, Mystery | Russia, 1972 | 12 | Curzon Artificial Eye | 8th August 2016 (UK) | Dir. Andrei Tarkovsky |Natalya Bondarchuk, Donatas Banionis, Jüri Järvet | Buy: [Blu-ray]