Solaris Screen 20 articles

Solaris

1972

Solaris Poster
  • The film, which contains marginally fewer concessions to science fiction prediction than Alphaville, Tarkovsky seeks to abstract this perception in order to examine it in the fluid but loaded context of Solaris itself—the planet as brain, a world of philosophy and intellect. Unfortunately, whatever his gifts, Tarkovsky is no philosopher. From the early conversations with Burton, emotionally scarred and prematurely aged, the film is at pains to present itself as an intellectual debate.

  • Tarkovsky's sustained investment in conducting an orchestration of humankind's achievements and gifts, particularly those found in art and nature, have an overwhelming resonance that seems equal parts prescient and eternal. Yet, a stubbornness undergirds the film's entirety that can only be deemed conservative in its reticence to temper the technophobic rhetoric.

  • It's the nearest the cinema has come to capturing the complexities of modern science fiction, with its intermingling of time and memory, acute uneasiness, and emphasis on elegance and style. The immaculately photographed space-station, humbled with baroque incongruities reminiscent of Tarkovsky's battle landscapes in Ivan's Childhood, is a superbly designed labyrinth of inarticulate panic, a memorable symbol of the disordered human mind.

  • Russia's answer to 2001, not in its display of space hardware but in the speculative quality of its ideas... The arrival is masterly: the seemingly deserted disordered space station, the phantoms glimpsed out of the corner of the eye, the discovery of the two men aboard locked up madly with their ghosts.

  • It ranks with the best of Tarkovsky's work, which is to say it ranks with the best of the movies produced at any time... The plot may resemble an episode of Star Trek, but the conversations between Hari and Kelvin, and between two other scientists on the space station, are Star Trek as rewritten by Dostoevsky.

  • ...Whether or not we interpret the final scene as a dream sequence is irrelevant, because by this time the objective and subjective plots have become indistinguishable. The same ambiguity applies to certain sequences in which the living room of Kelvin’s country house merges with various parts of the space station to form an indissoluble whole. Bearing this ambiguity in mind, it could be argued that Tarkovsky’s Solaris... qualifies more as anti-science fiction than as science fiction.

  • There is no scene more troubling than the one wherein, feebly imitating Solaris, Kris screens home movies to provide synthetic Hari with memories of their nonexistent life together. Terminally East European, Solaris derives its pathos from the acknowledged impossibility of either escaping or recapturing the past.

  • A visually hypnotic, deeply affecting story of conscience, love, and reconciliation... Solaris is an exploration beyond the vessel of humanity, a journey to extend the territorial bounds of man, only to find the vast frontier of his own subconscious. In a society driven to explore the farthest reaches of the universe in search of Truth, the Solaris ocean provides an introspective catalyst for probing the deepest regions of the human soul.

  • Bondarchuk has that certain quality that transcends such criticisms [of misogyny], perhaps a result of her youth. At nineteen, she is Tarkovsky's youngest leading lady, but her presence also bespeaks a wisdom that fits into her character conception. Basically put, she feels like a figment of memory that is slowly gaining her own painful consciousness. It's a wondrous embodiment of the contradictions of human existence, and to observe her in Solaris is to bear witness to the ultimate mystery.

  • If Tarkovsky’s conclusion seems a little grim, it may be a small comfort to remember that moviegoing is itself a fairly solitary experience. Sitting in the dark... we for the most part are individually affected, especially when confronted by a film as deeply personal as one by Tarkovsky. And perhaps this isolation is what we look for in a film — not escapism, but intense self-examination. As Snaut says of space exploration, “We don’t want any more worlds. Only a mirror to see our own in.”

  • I like watching this master of imagery wrestle with the problems of creation and perception, and I relish, perhaps perversely, the aroma of frustrated reaching that seeps out of the characters' relations to their own experience, and occasionally out of Tarkovky's relation to Lem's heady material. One genius works to touch another, and the results are mostly exquisite, but the restless, difficult space between them is almost as compelling.

  • If 2001 is the intellect, the mind, the more mathematically precise and optimistic of the two, then Solaris is the messy heart of inextricably entangled emotions, imbued with grief and prone to no shortage of creative tangents. To know thyself, one must look both within and without; each film explores the realm of the human soul—namely, where it comes from and where it's heading—and are no less compatible than any two sides of the same coin.

  • The film helped initiate a genre that has become an art-house staple: the drama of grief and partial recovery. Watching Solaris is like catching a fever, with night sweats and eventual cooling brow... True horror is in having to watch someone you love destroy herself. The film that Solaris most resembles thematically is not 2001 but Vertigo: the inability of the male to protect the female, the multiple disguises or “resurrections” of the loved one, the inevitability of repeating past mistakes.

  • The first time I saw Solaris was on VHS in the mid-nineties. Even though the film affected me profoundly, I never watched it again until now. The richness of the images, the vividness of the mood, and the depth of the themes are so intense, they have simmered and lived in my mind for more than fifteen years just from that one viewing. Seeing it again, going from VHS to this new restoration, is truly a revelation. It's like owning a pristine 35 mm print.

  • For those with the requisite patience, however, it’s a truly harrowing experience, in part because the inexplicable is made so unemphatic. Solaris ’72 was a major influence on Lars von Trier’s Melancholia—both make explicit visual reference to Pieter Bruegel’s painting “The Hunters In The Snow”—and while it’s possible to formulate a religious interpretation of the film’s enigmatic ending, one would be hard-pressed to find any comfort in that vision.

  • Tarkovsky’s speculative visions enfold the mysteries of death and rebirth, the lost paradise of childhood, the power of art to define identity, the menace of science as destructive vanity; the futuristic conceit conceals the furious sense that there’s no place like home when there’s no home left to return to.

  • I never noticed before how scarred up he gets throughout the film. His attachments are tearing him apart on the outside so that he can feel better on the inside. He has to ignore what Hari is doing to him, which is next to impossible because the corridor walls are one big funhouse mirror. Our selfish desires make us 'human,' which is another way of saying wrong.

  • Tarkovsky continued to search for new ways to tell stories and utilise the cinematic space, and offers a fantastic drama that purposefully avoids most manifestation of the fantastic. And yet Solaris is often held up as Tarkovsky’s most accessible and popular work, chiefly because of its lucid and powerful romanticism. That quality ironically can only be conjured in a remembered, mediated state.

  • For a movie set primarily on a half-abandoned space station, Tarkovsky’s third film is more about the tangled webs of human memory, consciousness, and the lasting impressions of guilt and grief than rocketships, alien probes or even aliens themselves... Colorful, strange, brooding and evocative, Russia’s answer to 2001: A Space Odyssey reaches its climax in the enigmatic final scene. Is true existence only in the mind? If so, does that make it less important?

  • In adapting Lem’s book, Tarkvosky develops a complex structure of flashbacks, dream sequences, and fantasies that are at times indistinguishable from the ‘actual’ events of the plot, and alternates between color and black-and-white cinematography to further alienate us from the narrative flow.

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