(Review originally written at 29 July 2008)

I had never seen a Andrei Tarkovsky movie before, even though he is generally regarded as the most famous Soviet film-maker since Sergei M. Eisenstein but I definitely intend to see more movies by him now. He seemed to be a film-maker with a love for the art of movies. His directing is passionated and he really knew how to tell a story, despite the fact that this movie is slow...very slow! No wonder that the movie is 165 minutes long.

"Solyaris" is definitely comparable to Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey ", not just with its story or concept (or better said the confusedness of it all) but also definitely with its style and pace. The movie doesn't feature any more dialog than necessary and there are large parts in the movie were no word is spoken at all.

It's a rare true intelligent science-fiction movie. Every sequences can be basically interpreted in your own way. It's true poetry captured on film. Certain sequences have deeper meanings to it, somethings you'll catch, others you won't. This is also the reason why "Solyaris" is a movie that only gets better on repeated viewings.

Besided science-fiction, the movie can also be seen as a drama, a mystery movie and even a romantic one. The fact that this movie is labeled as a science-fiction movie doesn't simply mean that it's about space or the future. "Solyaris" is about many things and it above all is a very humane movie, with a realistic touch to it. Even though it has an unusual story and some unique storytelling the movie is not that hard or completely not understandable to follow as you perhaps had heard or would expect from a movie with a concept such as this one.

The movie is based on the novel 'Solaris' by Polish auteur Stanislaw Lem. In the beginning of the pre-production stages of this movie Lem was still very much involved and spend lots of time with Tarkovsky in Moscow, developing the movie. The collaboration however did not ended well since Tarkovsky (as every director) wanted to make some changes and additions to the story. He also wasn't too happy with the end result, though his points of criticism don't really seem valid to me. He just complained because it wasn't exactly like his book and Tarkovsky in parts put the focus on different aspects, which simply works out well for the movie and are a foremost reason why this movie is such an absolutely great and effective one.

An impressive and just plain great, intelligent Soviet answer to "2001: A Space Odyssey".


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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