Have you ever watched Andrei Tarkovsky’s brilliant 1972 Russian science fiction film, Solaris? Well, you should. It’s long and it moves at its own leisure, but you’ll be richly rewarded with an unforgettable cinematic experience. When I was a kid I was a huge fan of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. So when I went to see this film I was very cranky about it because it just didn’t have the same look as 2001. But Tarkovsky was not interested in spaceships or realistic zero gravity. He was looking for the soul. Solaris is a deeply emotional film that points the way toward a science fiction that does not rely on science or technology for its visuals. If you have seen the recent version of Solaris by Steven Soderbergh, you really should consider watching this one. Tarkovsky was not afraid to dismantle the normal narrative drive and pacing of the majority of Hollywood films. He allowed time to play itself out in his films. No scene was ever cut to spare an audience’s attention span. Soderbergh, for all his efforts to look independent, is completely at the mercy of the prevailing winds of Hollywood and makes every film to suit the intellectual capacities of a thirteen year old audience. This is usually apparent in the editing, not the writing. Hollywood filmmakers edit films as if they are flashcards for the slow learners. You can’t call yourself an independent filmmaker if you are really just a prostitute. Tarkovsky was, in spite of the constant oversight by the authoritarian Soviet government, a true unbending independent.
The film is an adaptation of the novel by the great Polish science fiction writer, Stanislaw Lem.
It has been made available by Mosfilm for free viewing on their new YouTube channel.