- had to watch it twice 1/19/1999 12:00:00 AM by MrsRainbow
I'm just starting out into the vast world of foreign film and having seen this film on many a video store shelf, and knowing that it was considered a sci-fi classic, I thought it would be a good way to spend an evening. Based on the case I was expecting something along the line of typical American sci-fi. Needless to say I was wrong.
I watched Solyaris twice in two days, because the first time I saw it I knew that I hadn't processed even a quarter of what I knew was there. I was taken completely aback. The second viewing was extremely rewarding.
It was unusual for me, raised as I was on the sledgehammer moralizing and we'll make our point so obvious that there's no way you can miss it because we have no respect for your intelligence way of American film. I'm a huge literature buff, and this was one of the very few films I've confronted that is thoughtful and has so many things to say yet does it in a literary or poetic fashion.
You will get out of this film what you bring to it. I've been to so many movies where the audience is not actually participating, it's being attacked. But true art is not domineering; it woos you.
So to sum up, I greatly appreciated Tarkovsky's unwillingness to manipulate the viewer. It showed that he had respect for me as a thinking soul, and it is this love and respect for humanity which makes this a truly great film.
- "Nobody loves poetry like a Russian!" 10/7/2005 12:00:00 AM by OttoVonB
This line from Dr Zhivago says all you have to know about Tarkovsky. He was a thinker and a poet. An artist who's work was at once smart, engaging and aesthetically beautiful! Solaris is a world that materialized thoughts and absorbs creatures into its own consciousness. "Solaris" is an allegory on man's place in the universe, the twisted concept of reality, the meaning of love, grief and - ultimately - life. Psychiatrist Kris Kelvin goes to the station orbiting the planet-entity to assess whether the madness of it's occupants means all exploration should be discontinued. What he finds there are all the demons he has brought with him. You the viewer shall experience the same thing, for Solaris is an inviting and questioning but never manipulative film. What you'll get out of it depends on what you bring with you.
Solaris is often accused of being slow. This is a common misinterpretation: Solaris makes you anxious, and willingly so. Too many segments are like mirrors that invite your mind to venture off into many uncomfortable a place (the traffic scene comes to mind: an allegory for the space voyage but also for fading life and powerlessness). Solaris also makes you fear, with a sense that something isn't quite right and as with the best horror films, what you dread often isn't even on screen. Solaris makes you heart ache on several occasions as well. It makes you miss loved ones and it makes you feel homesick. every additional minute that separates you from the gorgeous opening shots of nature makes you long for Earth.
Solaris is many things but above all it is simply more than entertainment: it is a voyage for the senses, like a favorite song that binds countless disconnected feelings and thoughts. It is a poem.
- A unique experience 1/7/2006 12:00:00 AM by vbertola
It's now been some years since I last watched it. Still, I can't get rid of the impressions of emptiness, absurdity and impossibility to understand (the world, and the human mind) that this movie left into me. It can be violent to your mind, without showing a single violent image (by the way, I often see this movie as a counterpart to Clockwork Orange, even more than to 2001). It can stun you, with ten or twenty minutes of incomprehensible silence. It can deprive you of any certainty in the laws of nature - such as, people only die once - and thus leave you vulnerable and naked.
I know that many friends to whom I've shown this move did not understand it. So I'm not saying you'll like it. But this is possibly the best (non-action) sci-fi movie ever made.
Watch it at night, alone, when everything out of your home is dark, silent, and cold.
- The magic of not knowing where we're going.... 3/22/2006 12:00:00 AM by mu-kau
Like the majority of reviewers here, I rate this film as one of the most profound viewing experiences I can remember. While the IMDb guidelines recommend avoiding reference to specific reviews of Solaris within this section, I strongly believe that there is much to be learnt about this movie by evaluating those reviews as a whole.
This is clearly either a love or a hate movie. Those who love it describe in detail its effect on them, the feelings it evokes, its significance and the depth of its philosophical enquiry. Those who hate it largely describe it as too slow-paced; boring.
What matters to me about this film which I first watched as mesmerised 15 year old is that it is almost entirely the antithesis of Classical Hollywood cinema. It came from behind the Iron Curtain (that dark place whose strange and hidden 'otherness' has, like the plot of any modern movie, now also been laid wide open by capitalist 'democracy'). Its actors were unknown - more like real people than the celebrities the West populates its movies with. Its pace was slow, mesmeric, hypnotic and atmospheric. It was completely free of the kind of 'good triumphs over evil' motif that riddles Hollywood film-making, where 'good' is white-ness, wealth, youth, Westernness and so on.
The pleasure of Solaris was that I didn't know what I was watching. I didn't know who I was watching. I didn't know the culture it reflected and - most importantly - I didn't know what was going to happen.
Perhaps its only in re-watching the 1971 Solaris that it becomes apparent to me that somewhere along the way we have been stripped of the right to not know; robbed of the true narrative thrill of being led into the dark, magical forest of the unknown.
- There's something about this movie, I just can't put my finger on it... 5/26/2005 12:00:00 AM by Movie-Man-Bob
The thing that generally stands out most about this movie is that it is long. Very long. And Russian. Very Russian.
It raises a lot of interesting questions about the nature of humanity, conscience, love, etc. which, honestly, I'd never thought to ask before, and don't care enough to answer now that they HAVE been asked. (Will Shame really save humanity? Who knows? Maybe. How will it do that? Haven't a clue. Now what's for lunch?) That's not to say I didn't like the movie. I did. It's very beautifully shot, such that I think it would be worth purchasing, even if I never sit through the whole thing again, just so that I can have scenes like "City of the Future" on hand as a reference for my own film-making endeavors.
Speaking of which: "City of the Future" is a very long scene consisting entirely of one character driving through the streets of Japan. It's supposed to look like, well, a city of the future, but to modern American audiences, it won't very much. It just looks like a guy driving his car through a series of tunnels, and past a series of skyscrapers, as day turns gradually into night. It goes on for five minutes.
But here's the thing, the paradox of this film: It didn't bother me that there is a five minute sequence consisting of nothing but shots of traffic. In fact, I loved it. It's an amazing scene, really quite beautiful in its own way. And a lot of the film is like that. It's slow and confusing, but still, it's never boring. Even once Kelvin gets aboard the Space Station, wherein 90% of the decor looks exactly the same. It's still fascinating to look at.
And the weird thing is, I can't figure out why. I mean, when I tried to watch 2001, another very long, beautifully shot movie set largely in space... I was bored literally to tears in the first 10 minutes, and had to shut it off. (No offense to fans of the film; I realize how incredibly crass I am for failing to recognize the genius of 2001. It's something I will just have to come to terms with on my own.) But for some reason, while watching Solaris, even when absolutely nothing was happening, I could not tear my eyes away. I have the strangest feeling that, if I were indeed to watch the movie again--without the subtitles--it could become one of my all-time favorites.
I don't know if I can recommend this film to others or not, because I have no idea if anyone else will share my sentiments. I don't know who will understand it and who won't, or who will even think it's worth trying to understand. There are, of course, some people who absolutely love it, and probably even some who understand it (or think they do), because... well, it's a classic, and a movie doesn't become a classic if nobody likes or understands it. But there are probably just as many people who hate it, because... well, it's a three-hour Russian movie.
At any rate, though, I think it's at least worth a look. If you find it boring, slow, incomprehensible, whatever... just turn it off. No big deal. But, on the other hand, if you find yourself inexplicably compelled to keep watching, unwilling or unable to tear yourself away for a single frame... well, then, you're welcome.