Solaris (1972) directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

17 March 2023
Solaris, directed by the legendary filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, is a cerebral masterpiece that explores the complexities of human consciousness and the limitations of our understanding of reality. 

Set on a space station orbiting the mysterious planet Solaris, the movie tells the story of a psychologist who is sent to investigate the strange occurrences that are plaguing the crew and causing their mental states to deteriorate.

One of the key strengths of Solaris is its exploration of the themes of human consciousness and the boundaries of our understanding of the world. As the psychologist delves deeper into the mystery of the planet, he finds himself struggling to distinguish between reality and the hallucinations that he experiences, blurring the line between imagination and truth. This theme is beautifully executed throughout the film, creating an eerie and unsettling atmosphere that will keep the audience on the edge of their seats.

solaris 1972 film poster original

Another major theme that Solaris explores is isolation. The characters in the film are cut off from the rest of the world, trapped on a remote space station with no connection to their families, friends or the outside world. The psychological toll of this isolation is portrayed with stunning visual clarity, as the crew members become increasingly unhinged and detached from reality.

The stunning cinematography and haunting score add an extra layer of depth to the film, creating a truly immersive experience for the viewer. Tarkovsky's direction is flawless, as he expertly weaves together the complex themes of the film into a thought-provoking and deeply moving story.

A consideration of the famous ending of Solaris:

In the final scene of the film, Kelvin appears to have returned to Earth, but it is unclear whether this is a hallucination or a genuine return. He meets his father, who has been dead for many years, and they embrace in a tender moment of reunion. As they embrace, Kelvin suddenly appears to be back on the space station, suggesting that his return to Earth was merely a hallucination.

The ending of Solaris is deliberately ambiguous, leaving it up to the viewer to interpret what has happened. Some have suggested that Kelvin's return to Earth is a manifestation of his desire to escape the isolation and madness of the space station, while others argue that it represents a form of redemption or closure for Kelvin, who has been haunted by his memories and past mistakes throughout the film.

One possible interpretation of the ending is that it represents the futility of trying to escape our past or our own consciousness. 

Kelvin's experiences on the space station have forced him to confront his own fears and doubts, but even when he returns to Earth, he cannot escape his own memories and desires. The ending of Solaris is a powerful and thought-provoking conclusion to a film that is full of complex themes and ideas, and it encourages the audience to consider the nature of reality, consciousness, and the human condition.

The 2002 remake of Solaris directed by Steven Soderbergh

The 2002 remake of Solaris starring George Clooney (The Midnight Sky), received mixed reviews from both critics and fans of the original. While some appreciated the remake's updated special effects and stylish cinematography, others felt that it lacked the depth and introspection of Tarkovsky's original.

One major departure from the original film was the remake's emphasis on the love story between the psychologist character (played by Clooney) and his deceased wife, which is a central element of the film's plot. This focus on romantic melodrama led some to criticize the remake as a watered-down Hollywood version of Tarkovsky's more challenging and thought-provoking original. 

However, the remake did introduce Solaris to a new generation of viewers and sparked renewed interest in Tarkovsky's work.

Here's some trivia about Solaris:

  1. Solaris is based on the novel of the same name by Stanisław Lem.
  2. The film was made during a time of political turmoil in the Soviet Union, and Tarkovsky had to fight for creative control against the government censors.
  3. The film's production was notoriously difficult, with Tarkovsky demanding multiple takes and long, grueling shooting schedules. At one point, the studio even cut off funding, but Tarkovsky persisted and eventually completed the film.
  4. Solaris was released in 1972 to mixed reviews, but has since become a cult classic and is widely regarded as one of the greatest science fiction films ever made.
  5. The film's haunting score was composed by Eduard Artemyev, who used an early synthesizer to create the eerie, otherworldly soundscapes that are a hallmark of the film.
  6. Tarkovsky was heavily influenced by the works of Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa (just like George Lucas), and Solaris has been compared to Kurosawa's film, Rashomon, which also explores the subjective nature of reality.
  7. The film's title, Solaris, is the name of the planet on which the story takes place. It is a mysterious planet that has the power to create physical manifestations of people's memories and desires.
  8. The movie's themes of consciousness, perception, and the limitations of human understanding have made it a favorite among philosophers, scientists, and cinephiles alike.
  9. The film's opening shot, which features a long, slow pan across a reed-covered pond, is considered one of the greatest in cinema history and has been studied by film students and scholars for its complex symbolism and imagery.
In conclusion, Solaris is an introspective and thought-provoking film that challenges the audience to question their own understanding of the world and the limitations of human perception. Tarkovsky's masterful direction, coupled with the stunning cinematography and haunting score, creates a truly immersive and unforgettable cinematic experience. This is a must-see for fans of psychological horror and existentialist cinema.


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

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