An Atmosphere of Space and Emotion – Solaris (Blu-Ray Review)


The 1972 sci fi classic Solaris from Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky comes to Blu-Ray courteously of Criterion and 45 years since its release remains highly influential within the genre. Solaris much like Kubrick’s seminal masterpiece 2001 is a film that takes time with pace particularly in the opening forty minutes.

The story centres around psychologist Kris Kelvin, played by Donatas Banionis, a man that must leave the beautiful surroundings he lives to visit the planet Solaris. His mission is to talk with two remaining scientists left in a space station that’s orbiting the planet. Once aboard the space station he has visions of a dead loved one and his scientific reasoning is questioned in the face of ethical and moral dilemmas.

The direction by Tarkovsky is carefully composed within every frame. It’s a film that’s not worried about speed, he’s seems more interested in the atmosphere and the emotional impact the film imparts on the audience. Natalya Bondarchuk as the psychologist’s former wife Hari, brought back to life by Solaris, gives a beautifully brittle performance.

As with all Criterion releases the amazing amount of supplemental stands out; there’s an informative but dry academic commentary by Andrei Tarkovsky scholars Vida Johnson and Graham Petrie coauthors of The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky: A Visual Fugue.The disc includes 25 minutes of deleted scenes cut from the film before its 1972 Cannes release.

There’s also interviews with actress Natalya Bondarchuk, Cinematographer Vadim Yusov, Art Director Mikhail Romadin, composer Eduard Artemyev and portion of a Polish television documentary in which Solaris author Stanislaw Lem discusses the compromises he made with the director.

Solaris on its original release was seen as a true cinematic achievement and remains as fresh within both genre and film history in general. The space station set most likely to have influenced Silent Running, Alien and other space ship based movies its an expansive elaborate and impressive piece of design.

As with all influential films in cinema history it was remade by Hollywood in 2002 starring George Clooney directed by Steven Soberbergh while this version has impressive moments with a stunning score nothing can’t come as close to the emotional gut punch the 1972 version gave me.

Dir: Andrei Tarkovsky
Scr: Fridrikh Gorenshtein, Andrei Tarkovsky
Prd: Viacheslav Tarasov
Cast: Donatas Banionis,Natalya Bondarchuk,Jüri Järvet,Vladislav Dvorzhetsky,Nikolai Grinko
D.O.P: Vadim Yusov
Music: Eduard Artemyev
Country: Soviet Union
Year: 1972
Run time: 166 minutes

Solaris available on Blu Ray now

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