Pssst, want to check out Solyaris in our new look?
See all comments
One of the best SciFi ever made.
A rich and breathtaking work of profound thought and beauty. This is not a film you simply watch, it's a film to experience. Tarkovsky never made films 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 invites 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 a spiritual observer, and his films are philosophical meditations on the meaning of life.
This is one of the key films that shaped my understanding of what cinema is. 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 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.
In this film, Tarkovsky deals with man's technological progression and goal to explore outer space, but our failure to understand our own state of existence, that is to say 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 which brings to form their subconscious, and each reacts to this in their own way based on their personal psychological/spiritual state. 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, and fears? What appearances would you face? Would they be happy, 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. It's definitely a film that demands your patience and attention, but in the end, it's 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.
I've used the term "glacial pacing" before, but I didn't know what it truly meant. Tartovsky's lingering on images borders on the photographic - or still life - and has a very unusual effect. The more you stare at an image, the more you start to figure out its meaning, and when that meaning is later evoked, the memory of the image is strong, not to say burned on your retina. It's not for everyone and every occasion, but I found it quite fascinating. If you've seen the Soderbergh/Clooney version, you'll have gotten something closer to Lem's original novel; Tarkovsky has other concerns, and makes this "anti-2001" about nostalgia. Nostalgia for Earth, for nature, for the people we have lost, and slyly perhaps, for pre-Soviet Russia. And I don't think enough commentators bring up Tartovsky's dry sense of humor, because it's definitely there, often deprecating his own inability to make a mainstream film. A must-see for film history buffs
to see which of your friends have seen this movie!
In 27 official lists
View all lists this movie is in
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 #20 in iCheckMovies's 1970s Top 100
This movie ranks #35 in IMDb's 1970s Top 50
This movie ranks #46 in IMDb's Sci-Fi Top 50
This movie ranks #48 in IMDb's Independent 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 #184 in The Criterion Collection
This movie ranks #208 in Roger Ebert's Great Movies
This movie ranks #215 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films
This movie ranks #224 in Reddit Top 250
This movie ranks #240 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #269 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Films of All Time
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