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One of the best SciFi ever made.
Wow. This got to be one of the most profound movies ever made. At some scenes I could barely breathe.
A rich and breathtaking work of profound thought and beauty. This is not a film you simply watch, its a film to experience. Tarkovsky never made films that are merely to be watched, he made films to submerge yourself within, films that challenge the viewer to think beyond the material. His films are a journey through the inner-man and a quest for the spiritual nature of life, and with his films he asks for us to join in that journey and quest. His films don't tell you what to think, they challenge you to think, to think about existence, beauty, and art. He never set himself the task of explaining anything, he was an existential observer, and his films are philosophical meditations on what he cared about.
This is one of the key films that shaped how I watch cinema. The pace of it may be gradual, but it's never tedious. The pacing is all part of the effect as it allows you to meditate on the philosophy and sheer beauty of the film. Ingmar Bergman once said of Tarkovsky that he was "moving freely and fully at ease" in a room that he himself had always wanted to enter. I understand this sentiment, as Tarkovsky did achieve something that is beyond the realm of say Bergman. He created a world on film that goes beyond what can just be seen or explained, but felt deep within - a world deeply rooted in the poetry of life, the ground between reality and dreams; the inner and outer spaces of human beings. And not to say that Bergman can't also take us here, but Tarkovsky takes us further into a place where nature and spirituality are in unity. Faith and reason aren't at odds here but interwoven.
With this film Tarkovsky deals with man's technological progression and space exploration, but our failure to understand our own human condition, that is in other words, our looking outward and forgetting to look inward. The men of the space station are experiencing a unique phenomenon brought on by a mysterious space ocean, and each reacts to this differently. The protagonist here is a man in despair over his dead wife, who's committed suicide. Upon arriving at the station, she reappears before him because of the phenomenon. First, he rejects it because it's further troubling to his conscience, but soon accepts her, because one, she represents what he needed from his wife, and two, because it's easier to accept the reappearance than cope with reality. Through all this, the viewer is allowed to glimpse into who this man is, as well as reflect on ourselves.
That is part of the film's immense power, it challenges the viewer to question themselves in the situation of the space station; what are your greatest memories, desires, fears? What appearances would you face? Would they be cheerful, depressing, dark, etc.? How would you react to, and handle them? These are some of the questions I've walked away asking myself since watching it. Its definitely a film that demands your patience and attention, but in the end its a hugely rewarding experience, and a film I'll continue to return to over the years because it takes us into the purest realm of cinema, a realm that allows us to reflect on ourselves and our state of existence.
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In 27 official lists
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This movie ranks #6 in Empire Russia's 100 Best Russian Films: Readers' Choice
This movie ranks #7 in Cannes Film Festival - Grand Prix
This movie ranks #10 in Total Sci-Fi's The 100 Greatest Sci-Fi Movies
This movie ranks #28 in IMDb's 1970s Top 50
This movie ranks #29 in IMDb's Sci-Fi Top 50
This movie ranks #34 in IMDb's Independent Top 50
This movie ranks #36 in IMDb's Mystery Top 50
This movie ranks #51 in Stanley Kubrick, Cinephile
This movie ranks #55 in FOK!'s Film Top 250
This movie ranks #68 in Akira Kurosawa's A Dream Is a Genius
This movie ranks #69 in BFI's 100 Science Fiction Films
This movie ranks #73 in Empire's The 100 Best Films of World Cinema
This movie ranks #77 in Russian Guild of Film Critics's Best Russian Films
This movie ranks #95 in 366 Weird Movies
This movie ranks #135 in Butler's Fantasy Cinema: Impossible Worlds on Screen
This movie ranks #167 in The Criterion Collection
This movie ranks #184 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Films of All Time
This movie ranks #190 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films
This movie ranks #208 in Roger Ebert's Great Movies
This movie ranks #224 in Reddit Top 250
This movie ranks #240 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #285 in Empire's The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time
This movie ranks #315 in Emma Beare's 501 Must-See Movies
This movie ranks #548 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #636 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema
This movie ranks #829 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #843 in Time Out's 1000 Films to Change Your Life