5 February 2018


Solaris 1972
  • Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
  • Based on the novel by Stanislaw Lem
  • Cast: Natalya Bondarchuk, Donatas Banionis, Yuri Yärvet, Anatoly Solonitsyn
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in: none of them
  • Why? A classic
  • Seen: once before. Now 4 February 2018 with Hal and YW in our read-book-see-film group.

       The book is flawed but fascinating. The film has a lot to live up to and the beginning does not bode well. Why doesn’t it start on the space station? Already in the first scene there are too many people for the three-peopled (five if you count the ghosts or whatever they are) book. And far too much Earth nature.
       No, no, no, this is not Solaris! Why this endless journey on an anonymous city motorway? Forty minutes into the film and the main character has yet to get to the space station.
       I protest! I think I’ll just stop watching this boring and wrong film and read the book again.
       OK. I watched the whole film. And when he finally got to the space station it started following the book. Sort of. Psychologist Kelvin finds only two survivors on this research station. The mysterious ocean on the planet Solaris causes them to have guests. Living figments of their memories. Kelvin’s dead (suicide) wife comes to him. Actually she - here called Hari for some reason though in the book she’s called Rheya, meaningless changes like this are irritating – is more interesting in the film than in the book (until the semi-pornographic regeneration scene). Snout (Snow in the book), the cynical researcher-astronaut, is good too.
       But it’s so-o-o-o slo-o-o-ow! There’s too much Earth and not enough Solaris. Almost nothing really about the main character, the ocean. 
       It’s pretentious without capturing the book’s interesting existential philosophy. Tarkovsky is boringly self-indulgent and would do well to kill many of his darlings.
       It’s better than his unbearably pretentious Stalker but not as much better as I had hoped. It actually makes me want to see the George Clooney version.
       Since I – for some inexplicable reason – gave Stalker 2* (I remember it as a 1*) I’ll have to give this

2 ½ * of 5 (my companions disagree! YW: 3+* and Hal: 4 ½ *)

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