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Solaris(Солярис)

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Soviet Union

1972

Rated PG • 2h47

Andrei Tarkovsky

Director

Donatas Banionis, Natalya Bondarchuk, Jüri Järvet, Anatoliy Solonitsyn

Stars

Drama, Science Fiction, Adventure, Mystery

Genre

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Sent to investigate the mysterious emotional crises of the cosmonauts on a space station orbiting the planet Solaris, psychologist Kris Kelvin soon starts to suffer from the same issues as the crew members, navigating the situation while struggling to determine what is and is not real.

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WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?

Billy Donoso Profile picture for Billy Donoso

Solaris is one of my all-time favorite films, even though it did not start this way. In fact, it was a challenging first watch: I felt as if Tarkovsky wanted me to feel the numb, desensitized way that I did when I tried to have a normal conversation with friends right after I saw it for the first time. I will never forget the highway scene— a winding, five-minute long, trance-inducing sequence that is so harrowing after multiple rewatches. Many have likened it to the more grounded, human, washed-out version of Kubrick's Stargate sequence in '2001: A Space Odyssey,' and I feel a very similar sense of dread and uncertainty when I watch it. But to get more at the core of the film and the events that transpire on the Solaris space station, I feel a palpable sense of grief thinking back to Kris' and Hari's relationship: a translucent gossamer of past memories and interpersonal friction that haunts Kris until he accepts it. For those watching this film who have experienced the loss of a loved one or a close friend due to suicide, you get it when you see his character arc and you appreciate the sensitivity Tarkovsky has by lingering with these characters. After all, once you close your laptop screen or leave whatever theater that might (very fortunately) happen to be showing 'Solaris,' these characters, too, are just memories that settle into your mind as long-lost, never-quite-real but never-quite-fake either figments of the past. It's the nature of cinema. Watching this movie is very much a litmus-test for where you are in your life, and where others are as well. I have a friend who did not enjoy it in the slightest bit, in part because he felt the language barrier didn't allow these characters' words to nestle in his heart intimately like they might for a native Russian speaker. In part, because it is (as I believe Tarkovsky himself sometimes jokingly referred to his films) a "long, boring film." I welcome the chance to sit and meditate with "long, boring films" like these, but I understand that not everybody is or that it can be fatiguing to constantly be doing that. This film, to me, is so many things: a eulogy, a love-letter, a lab report, a manifesto, a prayer, and so on. But the nebulous web of memories that constitutes what I think is 'Solaris' may not match what your recollection of it at all, and, well, that's okay.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

90

Washington Post by Desson Thomson

His (Tarkovsky's) pictures, and his sounds -- such as the symphonic drip of raindrops in a wooded pond -- tell more than just the immediate story; they rejuvenate the mind.
90

Chicago Reader by Jonathan Rosenbaum

Tarkovsky's eerie mystic parable is given substance by the filmmaker's boldly original grasp of film language and the remarkable performances by all the principals.
100

Chicago Tribune by Michael Wilmington

An amazing celluloid poem by a filmmaker whom Ingmar Bergman called "the greatest." He very nearly was. He was also, perhaps, too pure a creator and reckless a citizen to survive unscathed.
88

Chicago Sun-Times by Roger Ebert

Routinely called Tarkovsky's reply to Kubrick's "2001" -- But Kubrick's film is outward, charting man's next step in the universe, while Tarkovsky's is inward, asking about the nature and reality of the human personality.

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