Solaris (1972) | Criterion UK bluray release

March 21st, 2017
Author: Meredith Taylor

Unknown-1DIR: Andrei Tarkovsky | Visuals: Vadim Yusov | Prod Designer: Mikhail Romadin | 167min | Russia

SOLARIS is Tarkovsky’s only love story, based on the Sci-Fi novel of Polish writer Stanislaw Lem, it explores the baffling nature of alien intelligence back in the days where space travel still captured our imagination with an alluring power. As Hoberman pointed out, Solaris has distinct echoes of Hitchcock’s Vertigo yet unlike most Sci-fi films, there are no gadgets or special effects making the film feel strangely more resonant and engaging with its dazzling camerawork and avant-garde production values akin to Kubrick’s 2001. The eerie and unsettling story follows a psychologist Kelvin who arrives at the space station of a distant ocean planet called Solaris to replace one of the three scientists who has mysteriously died. There he finds an artificial manifestation of his dead wife Hari, who killed herself ten years ago. Feeling guilty about her death, Kelvin is only too happy to relate to the ‘new’ Hari, even though he fears that she is just a machine. But her second suicide is harrowing, sending Kelvin literally fleeing back into his childhood. Despite its subject matter SOLARIS is by far the most emotional of all Tarkovskij’s films questioning the nature and reality of the human personality in a sumptuously beautiful, richly sensual and deeply affecting way. MT


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