Directed by: Andrei Tarkovsky
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Art House, Drama
Country: Russia, USSR
Runtime: 167 Minutes
The extended edition spans to 167 minutes and takes you and an extraordinary sci-fi adventure. Without big special effects and action, like many sci-fi films, this one plays quietly. Most of the time you are confronted with silence and action-less scenes which can make it a hard to watch film. With this in mind, you will be taken on a thought-provoking journey that questions humanity and even sanity as we explore into the ideas of consciousness. Andrei Tarkovsky’s direction was nothing short of brilliant, but this film definitely will not suit everyone.
When watching "Solaris", you are reminded very much of Stanley Kubrick's "2001". The set pieces and story flow have been inherited from “2001: A Space Odyssey” in some ways and this shows the extreme influence Kubrick’s film had, seeing this film is international. The same goes with the film’s overall atmosphere. The long moments of silence, the odd style of filmmaking and the set designs, all have that futuristic appearance similar to things in “2001”. Not to mention the whole thought-provoking journey you are set on.
Most of the characters we meet are fairly boring and lifeless. Even our main protagonist Kris is not very interesting. However, the performances suited what their characters were supposed to be- scientists alone in space. I have not much to say about the acting. Overall, it was meditative, sometimes uninteresting but not terrible.
Tarkovsky’s direction is one thing that is intriguing in the film. It makes the film worthwhile and with the extraordinary happenings and silences your either going to be bored or intrigued. For me, some things were fascinating and some were very boring. There was a scene that I found boring was about 7 minutes long and did nothing more than show someone’s car journey. Of course, it can be forgiven because it is only 7 minutes, out of 167 in the extended edition.
Some people will probably jump on me for not quite getting the film and finding it boring. I know that it is supposedly one of the great Sci-Fi films, but I still think some aspects of the film are lacking in strength. To begin with, it is very distinguished with its narrative and the way it questions existence is very interesting. Not to mention the mystery we are presented with when Kris’s late wife (who killed herself previously) appears on the space station as somewhat of a hallucination, causing a bit of emotional crisis with Kris. The hallucinations seems to originate from the planet they are orbiting- Solaris.
I do not care if you say anything about attention span, because I have nothing wrong with long silences and films with long durations. However, it can totally kill films and become uninteresting and overly long. I just felt the film was lacking of action and could use some more happenings. The film in some ways is terrific, but it just does not work for me in the character and pace parts.
While the film was boring in places, I still felt how it questioned science, space and even humanity was the fascinating part. It definitely stands out from other Sci-Fi films of its recent time and if you love Sci-Fi, it just might be worth checking out if you have the time. Andrei Tarkovsky’s direction is satisfying, and the film is mysterious, explorative, and questionable and enough for Sci-Fi fans to feast on.
My Rating: 7.5/10