Reviewer's Rating 5 out of 5   User Rating 5 out of 5
Solaris (Solyaris) (1972)
PG

An arthouse sci-fi epic, Solaris is an Eastern bloc answer to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Filmed under the watchful eye of Russia's communist regime, Andrei Tarkovsky's adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's cult 1961 novel - about a cosmonaut psychologist (Donatas Banionis) who experiences strange visions when he visits a distant space station - is a haunting piece of cinema. It's also a moving meditation on humanity, love and the unknowable nature of the universe.

When contact is lost with a space station orbiting an ocean-covered planet on the edge of the galaxy, the authorities send cosmonaut psychologist Kris Kelvin (Banionis) to interview the three-man crew. When Kelvin arrives, he discovers the space station in near ruins, one of the crew dead and the others haunted by strange apparitions. Within a few hours of his arrival he himself begins to experience the hallucinations, meeting an exact replica of his dead wife (Natalya Bondarchuk) who's perfect in every way but lacking any memory of their marriage.

"QUESTIONS EXISTENCE AND MEMORY"

Are these invaders products of the crew's memories or are they ghosts conjured up by the "living" planet the station is in orbit around? Tarkovsky never tells us, preferring instead to delve into the depths of Kelvin's childhood as the hallucinations trigger a series of imponderable questions about existence and memory. A million light years removed from the pseudo-religious grandstanding of Kubrick's acid-trip space odyssey, this takes Kelvin - and us - on a journey into the uncharted depths of inner space.

In Russian with English subtitles.

End Credits

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky

Writer: Andrei Tarkovsky, Fridrikh Gorenshtein, Stanislaw Lem

Stars: Donatas Banionis, Natalya Bondarchuk, Yuri Jarvet, Anatoli Solanitsin

Genre: Science Fiction

Length: 165 minutes

Original: 1972

Cinema: 18 February 2005

Country: Russia

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