We could not have a list of interesting films without including at least one film by Andrei Tarkovsky, the Russian film director.
The film, from 1972, was based on a book by Stanislaw Lem, the Polish author. Lem apparently did not like the film.
The film was described as a Russian “2001: A Space Odyssey” and that’s why we saw it, at the Curzon cinema in London. It is certainly true that there are some similarities, but where “2001” is meticulous in its detail and accuracy, “Solaris” is more concerned about the human story.
So, the story. Strange things have been happening at the planet Solaris and scientist Kris Kelvin is sent to investigate, but also to decide if the run-down space station orbiting the planet Solaris should continue. He leaves his family on Earth and gets to the space station, where strange things happen.
Like most Tarkovsky films, there are long scenes of water, just being water. There’s the usual Tarkovsky family stuff, this time about his relationship with his father.
The space station looks tatty and neglected.
His friend has killed himself and the only remaining inhabitants are very secretive. Kris has demons from his own past to fight, and there is some kind of resolution.
It’s a film about what it means to be. How do we know we are human, and what does being human actually mean?
The music is haunting and the ending enigmatic, as you would expect.
Natalya Bondarchuk is fantastic as Kris’ dead wife Hari, and the whole film has a claustrophobic feel to it.
It’s a good long film that demands your concentration. Yes, it’s slow to start. well, OK, it’s slow.
Just, avoid the George Clooney re-make.