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Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

USSR 1972 167 mins. In Russian, German

One of the most profoundly meditative sci-fi films ever created, Solaris is one of Russian master Tarkovsky’s finest achievements in a career made almost solely of masterpieces. In this film adapted from the novel by Stanisław Lem, the alien planet Solaris is a deeply fascinating subject for researchers, but an exploratory crew seems to have gone mad while stationed there. Kris Kelvin (Donatas Banionis), a melancholy psychologist with a troubled past, is called in to investigate. Before long, his late wife Hari (Natalya Bondarchuk) appears to him, as real as when she was alive. Kelvin is forced to reconcile this memory of love with empirical evidence and scientific reason, ideas seemingly at odds with each other but both with their own pull—furthered by Tarkovsky’s poetic meditations on existence. “What is central [to the film] is the inner problem, which preoccupied me and which coloured the whole production in a very specific way: namely the fact that in the course of its development humanity is constantly struggling between spiritual, moral entropy, the dissipation of ethical principles, on the one hand, and on the other—the aspiration towards a moral ideal. The endless inner struggle of man, who wants to be freed from all moral restraint, but at the same time seeks a meaning for his own movement, in the form of an ideal—that is the dichotomy that constantly produces intense inner conflict in the life of the individual and of society.”—Andrei Tarkovsky.

Genres: Sci-Fi, Drama

Appears in: Essential Cinema