Solaris (1972)

‘See, I love you. But love is a feeling we can experience but never explain. One can explain the concept. You love that which you can lose: Yourself, a woman, a homeland. Until today, love was simply unattainable to mankind, to the earth. Maybe we are here to experience people as a reason for love.’ Kris Kelvin

Yep, this is Solaris. Now I could do a pretentious review of this, and believe me there are quite a few of those out there, but I know you can spot them, (giving you some credit here) so I am going to keep it simple.

Solaris centres on widowed Kris Kelvin, a psychologist sent to a space station to investigate what has happened to his friend Dr Gibarian and two scientists onboard. The space station is orbiting Solaris an ocean like planet that seems to be emitting strange signals.

Kris arrives to find that things have deteriorated onboard, the station is in disarray with parts of the station broken. He learns Dr Gibarian has died, due to an apparent suicide,  the two scientists Snaut and Sartorious are alive but not in a healthy place. Snaut warns Kris to be careful about what he does on board, he also gives him a good tip of sticking paper strips to the air conditioner as the ruffles sound like leaves moving in the wind, which can help with sleeping (nice).

On his first night Kris’s late wife Hari appears to him, he is shocked to see her or this life form appearing as her, and finds a way to get rid of her by putting her in a rocket (as you do). However the next night she reappears. It is from here Kris starts a process of self-discovery on life and love.

Solaris is a fascinating film, one that needs to be seen more than once, bear in mind it is 3 hours long but it touches on so many themes that it is worth the effort. It has a trance like allure and the music is hypnotic, I felt absorbed and numb at the same time.

Some of themes it touches on are whether humans are in love with a person or their perception or memory of the person, how much do they actually love the real person. Are humans devoid of actual love? Do they love themselves more than anyone else – are they narcissist? Do they make decisions for their own gain? Hari ends up making a decision that takes her above her newly acquired human emotions, but does this also mean that alien forms are more advanced than humans? Is there intelligent life out there? Also are life events meant to happen and you cannot escape fate?

Life and death are explored and the exchange between Kris and Snaut is well, I’ll leave for you here;

Snaut: When a man is happy…the meaning of life and other eternal themes rarely interest him. One should take them up at the end of ones life.

Kris: But we don’t know when that end will be, so we hurry

Snaut: Well don’t hurry. The happiest people are those who have never bothered themselves with these damn questions.

Kris: A question is always a desire for knowledge…but we need secrets to preserve simple human truths. The secrets of happiness, death, love.

Snaut: Maybe you’re right. But try not to think about all that.

Kris: To think about it is to know the day of your death. Not knowing it practically makes us immortal.

Tarkosky (Director) shows nature as having a calming effect on Kris, whilst the space station as stoic and dangerous – that is until Hari arrives – which I noticed on second viewing. This contrast and juxtaposition is very well done and shows the directors subtlety in letting the viewer pick it up, if you were to further analyse it does sort of sounds like Adam and Eve, but anyway.

The cast are very good, in particular Natalya Bondarchuk as Hari, when she appears the film really takes off. The ending also gets you, not going to spoil it.

Tarkosky gave us Solaris, and it is a very good film, one he is most known for. I highly recommend checking this out, it definitely is a bucket list film and you can tell why.

Rating 5/5

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