Solaris - Criterion Collection [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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Released in 1972, Solaris is Andrei Tarkovsky's third feature and his most far-reaching examination of human perceptions and failings. It's often compared to Kubrick's 2001, but although both bring a metaphysical dimension to bear on space exploration, Solaris has a claustrophobic intensity which grips the attention over spans of typically Tarkovskian stasis. Donatas Banionis is sympathetic as the cosmonaut sent to investigate disappearances on the space station orbiting the planet Solaris, only to be confronted by his past in the guise of his dead wife, magnetically portrayed by Natalya Bondarchuk. The ending is either a revelation or a conceit, depending on your viewpoint.
On the DVD: Solaris reproduces impressively on DVD in widescreen--which is really essential here--and Eduard Artemiev's ambient score comes over with pristine clarity. There are over-dubs in English and French, plus subtitles in 12 languages. An extensive stills gallery, detailed filmographies for cast and crew, and comprehensive biographies of Tarkovsky and author Stanislaw Lem are valuable extras, as are the interviews with Bondarchuk and Tarkovsky's sister and an amusing 1970s promo-film for Banionis. It would have been better had the film been presented complete on one disc, instead of stretched over two. Even so, the overall package does justice to a powerful and disturbing masterpiece. --Richard Whitehouse --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Lem famously disliked the film with a passion, feeling it gave into the heart rather the head with trite clichés: "Instead of focusing on deeper moral questions related to frontiers of human knowledge, he made a drama-type Crime and Punishment in space, by making up unnecessary characters of parents and relatives, then adding a hut on an island," was one of his less bitter comments after he fell out with Tarkovsky writing the script, although that implies a far more sentimental film than Tarkovsky delivered. Certainly the issue of whether the visitors are a gift, an experiment, a probe or a defensive psychological attack on the scientists is all but ignored in favour of their emotional effects on Kelvin and (to a much lesser effect) the scientists: these characters really aren't looking for answers, they're looking for a mirror, and it's their insular nature that condemns them to literally float in their own islands of memory (or a 'hut on an island' if you ascribe to Lem's view).Read more ›
However, let the viewer be forewarned that anybody expecting a thriller will be utterly disappointed. The film is a contemplation and analysis of what we consider important in our lives. The questions of duty, love, memory, nostalgia and soul occupy most of the film's content. In a way, science fiction only serves a purpose of the best conduit to explore the most important issues of human existence.
It is a definite tribute to Tarkovsky's mastery that film manages to convey its ideas with a bare minimum of science fiction stunts (if any) and very minimal other technical means of expression. Aspiring film makers can learn from Tarkovsky on how to create one of the most powerful images ever seen in the world cinema without big budgets or artificial wizardry.
Tarkovsky is a very consistent director in his film making. The attention to small details of nature, slow camera exploration of every shot will be familiar to the viewers who saw his other films. Indeed, after Mirror and Andrei Rublev, Solaris is a natural progression of Tarkovsky's initiate. The pleasure of recognising the common themes of all his films is an important viewing experience.Read more ›
The opening sequence revolves around a family of astronaughts who talk about their lives and space travel. It turns out that something very strange is happening on a planet called Solaris which is recalled through a soviet type interrogiation sequence like something out of the x-files. Like in much of David Lynch's work people say and talk about wierd things. Nothing seems to make sense.
Zipping through a montage of nature/urban photography we find our hero on a space station orbiting solaris where the crew have all gone but mostly crazy. Slowly our hero begins to discover what is going on.
Tarkovsky's photograph is a must see. This is a 1972 Russia production and even thought the print has jumps and bad bits - UK or American cinematography pales in comparison, even today. This film is totally out there and like most of Trakovski's films and is full of philosophy and psychological drama. If you prefer a slow peaceful and thoughtful movie then this is the one for you. I also highly recommend Stalker which is another sci-fi classic from this same director.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the fourth of Artificial Eye’s complete Tarkovsky feature films on blu-ray for the Region B market (see also my reviews of Ivan’s Childhood, Andrei Rublev & Mirror). Read morePublished 8 days ago by Boydon Boydon
My favourite film of all time!
A Masterpiece. Blu-Ray Version due for UK release 8th August 2016 (See H. M. V. Website for pre-orders).
You can buy this for £12.99 or less elsewhere. The blue ray version is coming out in August 2016 for £12.99 with English subtitles. It's a fantastic masterpiece. Read morePublished 2 months ago by David Kelly
The film, by all accounts, is excellent. Haven't had a chance to see for myself, though, as the film you actually get when you rent or buy this video of "The Class" is... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Dimi R.
For its time unbelievably well made movie - the escape from party meeting to outer space with assistance of polishman S. LemPublished 10 months ago by Zdenek Hanzlik