← Back to Reviews

Solaris (1972)

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Writers: Stanislaw Lem...novel. Fridrikh Gorenshteyn...screenplay.
Cast: Natalya Bondarchuk, Donatas Banionis, Jüri Järvet
Length: 2 hours 46 minutes
Language: Russian, English sub titles.

A Russian psychologist is reluctantly sent to a USSR space station that orbits a planet of a distant star. His mission is to find out what caused the former crew of the space station to go insane. On the space station he encounters elements from his own past that might be connected to an alien intelligence
...Citizen Rules

Solaris is an intriguing, psychological sci fi drama. It's worth watching...but be forewarned it's long with slow paced scenes. The slow pacing is intentional, it sets a reflective, pensive mood that starts with the opening shots and stays through to the end. Don't expect sci-fi gadgetry or action, Solaris is not that kind of film.

The film starts off with a beautifully filmed sequence in the Russian country side, the cinematography is breathtaking. The actor who played Berton the pilot was skilled at conveying a sense of uneasiness over what he had witnessed years ago in the Solaris ocean. This part riveted me.

Then there's a long car ride scene down a freeway into the city. The director was given permission to leave the Soviet Union to film at the Worlds Fair in Japan but missed the fair by days. Most likely the freeway scene is in the film to justify the expense of his trip to the Soviet film board.

The actor who played Kris Kelvin was stoic, as were most of the male actors in the film. However that might accurately reflect Soviet society in the early 1970s. I liked the actress who played Hari. Her character's vulnerability and neediness as a 'created copy' of a woman who had committed suicide 10 years earlier was the best part of the film. She brought dimension into her character.

Hari is fragile, even pitiful...she's utterly dependent on Kris. She doesn't own herself or her emotions. At first her existences is defined by a childlike dependence on Kris.

The scene on the station where Kris leaves Hari in the room by herself and she panics at the separation, forcing herself through an aluminum door, horribly gashing her arms, was one of the films most powerful moments.

I won't reveal the ending, I will say it's done in a poetic, metaphysical style.