Solaris 1972 film review


There are only a few movies that have completely caught me off guard and changed my own perspective on life. These films reaffirm my passion in film and what can be accomplished when done outside the box. Solaris is one of these films. This film is not only intelligent but philosophical in its attempt to explain its existential theme.

“Solaris” is about psychologist Kris Kelvin who is tasked with going to the Solaris space station to investigate why the crew members are sending back nonsensical messages to Earth and to check on their psychological state. Kelvin is shown footage of a conference by space pilot Henri Berton who wants Kelvin to understand what is going on at the space station. Solaris inhabits an oceanic planet that appears to be a brain itself. Berton hopes to convince Kelvin that he is telling the truth and was not hallucinating when he explains that he saw a very tall child on the ocean while on a rescue mission but Kelvin does not believe him. Berton leaves in frustration.

Kelvin arrives on Solaris to see that the space station is in disarray and that the other members are reluctant to see him and appear to be distressed. Kelvin Kelvin also discovers that one of the scientists have committed suicide due to his supernatural experience on the station.

On his first night on the station Kelvin awakens to find his dead wife Hari in his room. Kelvin is shocked to see her and tries to figure out if she real. Kelvin struggles against the other scientists who tell him that she is not real but a memory created by the ocean Solaris is inhabiting. As Hari begins to question her own existence and falls in love with Kelvin things become drastic as Kelvin finds that he is also falling in love with his wife all over again.

I have been trying to watch Solaris for years. I first heard of it after reading an article about its revered director Andrei Tarkovsky. I finally had the chance to watch it and after a slow start I became completely engrossed in the film. This is a smart science fiction film that challenges the viewer to think about its deep themes on existence. Each scientist is conflicted by their own manifestation that the ocean has created for them. They know that they need to put a stop to it before they lose their sanity.

This film examines what it means to exist and what can be explained as real. Birth and recreation are presented as real and fake but does not exactly hold true when the copy begins to believe that they are just as real as anything else. I enjoyed this film tremendously with how it stretched and bended the science fiction genre beyond its limitations. Superb acting and writing makes this film worth watching.

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