Solaris is the name of a space station where a lot of weird stuff has been happening, sending some of the crew insane.
Psychologist Kris Kelvin (Donatas Banionis) is about to take a trip up there to check it out, but beforehand, former pilot Berton (Vladislav Dvorzhetskiy) shows him archive video of his younger self giving testimony that includes describing fellow colleague Fechner’s space suit floating around in the fog of the clouds, and also seeing a 4m-tall child with blue eyes and dark hair (Okay, who sneaked the Moonshine on board?!)
I could argue that it’s daft that they’d send Kelvin on his own, since if you’re performing interstellar travel, they’d send a team, surely? After all, Matthew McConaughey didn’t go on his own in Christopher Nolan’s 2014 movie. Then again, I mention this after referring to a man seeing a 4-metre-tall child walking about.
On arrival, the place is a tip and looks like they’ve been having wild parties. Of the three on board, one is dead and of the two remaining, Kris first meets Snaut (Jüri Järvet) playing with his lighter, and telling him there have been “disturbances”, which have led to the weirdness.
However, if there’s only other men on the space station, then who’s that woman walking about? And will she come back to his visions once he blocks her out? Well, I knew who it was beforehand, only because I’d found out at the time when George Clooney’s remake was released, but I won’t say here.
I was really looking forward to Solaris, but found it goes on way too long, and mystery gives way to repetition, as it re-tells the same elements over and over. At first, I wondered how Steven Soderbergh could compress a 167-minute film into 99, but as indicated, there’s a stack of this Solaris which could be cut down, and it’d be interesting to see the 115-minute “unapproved” cut. One scene would be five minutes of Berton driving through Akasaka, Tokyo, which was made out to be a futuristic city, even though it looks far from that these days, such is 1970s concrete architecture.
In the meantime, I was intrigued to catch up with Soderbergh’s remake, but while there’s certainly a call for a shorter version, the 2002 movie is not it. Wrapping this next bit with a spoiler header…
Oh, and now I can’t say the title ‘Solaris‘ without hearing the title of the song Volare!
(click on the image for the full-size version)
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition. When the picture is good, it looks superb with great definition. When it’s a little soft, I would say that’s down to the original filming process. Hence, I have to award a score based on how it looks, even if there’s not a lot else that can be done with it.
The sound is in DTS HD 1.0 mono, so can’t exactly leap out at you in terms of the special effects that exhibit the problems experienced by the crew. That said, there are no problems with it.
The extras are as follows, and some will mention elements of the film, although nothing that could give a spoiler if you haven’t yet seen it. There isn’t a huge amount here, but since the film is so long, it requires a second disc:
- Andrei Tarkovsky’s Metaphysical Dream Zone: An introduction by Mary Wild (2:35): film psychoanalyst Mary uses a lot of long words where simple descriptions would suffice.
- Andrei Tarkovsky’s Metaphysical Dream Zone Part 3: Solaris (13:50):
Again, Mary Wild talks about further aspects of the film, overanalysing it, and she confused the hell out of me. I couldn’t listen to the whole piece.
- Interview with Natalya Bondarchuk (5:32): aka Khari in the film, talking about her ‘defrosting’ scene and other aspects of shooting the film. This is presented in 4:3 with film clips in an anamorphic squeeze.
- Master from a Little City: Donatas Banionis featurette (10:19): the actor who played Kris Kelvin passed away in 2014 aged 90, and this features chat from the man, vox pops from members of the public and brief clips from his films. This extra is presented in approx 14:9 with some anamorphic squeeze going on, so I’m not sure what the original ratio was meant to be, but either way, it’s good to see this featurette.
The menu features clips from the film set to a piece of the score, there are a bog standard 12 chapters and subtitles are in English.
Running time: 167 minutes
Released: Auguust 8th 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 1.0 DTS HD Master Audio (Mono), DTS 1.0, Dolby Digital 1.0
Languages: Russian, German
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Sovscope)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Screenplay: Stanislaw Lem, Fridrikh Gorenshteyn and Andrei Tarkovsky
Music: Eduard Artemev
Kris Kelvin: Donatas Banionis
Khari: Natalya Bondarchuk
Doktor Snaut: Jüri Järvet
Anri Berton: Vladislav Dvorzhetskiy
Nik Kelvin: Nikolay Grinko
Doktor Sartorius: Anatoliy Solonitsyn
Mat Krisa Kelvina: Olga Barnet
Syn Anri Bertona: Vitalik Kerdimun
Gostya doktora Gribaryana: Olga Kizilova
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.