A troubled psychologist is sent to investigate the crew of an isolated research station orbiting a bizarre planet.
I have watched this movie once, which was on .
Solaris, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring George Clooney, is based on the novel by Stanislaw Lem which was originally brought to the screen by famous Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky back in 1972.
The story revolves around a psychologist who is sent to investigate the crew of an isolated research station, which is orbiting a distant planet, who have been behaving strangely. Upon arrival he wanders aimlessly around the ship looking for the crew – but instead is confronted with blood and two people in the mortuary. After meeting with the two remaining crew members, one nervous and uncommunicative and the other reclusive and frightened, the protagonist learns the true frightening presence of the other-worldly planet they are orbiting.
All the crew members have been visited by apparitions of deceased friends or family members. These “vistors” take physical form, replicating a person from the crew’s life, but only have memories and feelings which are projected on to them.
The movie is slow-paced and is definitely not the typical science-fiction movie which has come out of America in the last decade or more. It has a psychological story with numerous interpretations and an ambiguous ending, both of which lead to great conversations with others who have watched it.
The movie’s themes are based heavily around the conflict in relationships and how are deal with the grief of loved ones. The planet Solaris gives the characters disturbing “what if?” scenarios and the story follows the characters ways of dealing with them. There is rationality, denial, acceptance and remorse, culminating in a morally and ethical conclusion.
The movie pays homage to the original movie as well as other classic science-fiction movies. The corridor set design on the space station is very similar to that of the 1972 version. The costume design of the space suits and the exterior shots of the space station – set against the beautifully rendered Solaris and classical music – is very reminiscent of the great Stanley Kubrick’s science-fiction epic 2001: A Space Odyssey. Finally, the fifties-esque apartment design and the bus scene set against a bustling rainy street are strangely familiar to anyone who has watched Blade Runner.
Overall, I felt that neither the original 1972 version nor the 2002 re-imagining are classic science-fiction movies (although, a lot of people would disagree with me about the first version). I would say – from an entertainment point of view – that the newer version is better. Tarkovsky’s version is over an hour longer, making it feel incredibly slow. I also thought it was more confusing, but this may have been due to cultural and language barrier of the original. However, it did explore more complex themes and had better character development for more of the crew.