Solaris

1976

Solaris (1976)

TOMATOMETER

Critic Consensus: Solaris is a haunting, meditative film that uses sci-fi to raise complex questions about humanity and existence.

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Movie Info

Based on a novel by Stanislaw Lem, Solaris centers on widowed psychologist Kris Kelvin (Donata Banionis), who is sent to a space station orbiting a water-dominated planet called Solaris to investigate the mysterious death of a doctor, as well as the mental problems plaguing the dwindling number of cosmonauts on the station. Finding the remaining crew to be behaving oddly and aloof, Kelvin is more than surprised when he meets his seven-years-dead wife Khari (Natalya Bondarchuk) on the station. It quickly becomes apparent that Solaris possesses something that brings out repressed memories and obsessions within the cosmonauts on the space station, leaving Kelvin to question his perception of reality. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival, Solaris was remade by Steven Soderbergh in 2002.

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Critic Reviews for Solaris

All Critics (57) | Top Critics (12)

The film has a hypnotic pull, drawing the viewer deeper and deeper into its enigmatic adventure by crafting a world all its own.

May 18, 2017 | Full Review…

Tarkovsky's speculative visions enfold the mysteries of death and rebirth, the lost paradise of childhood, the power of art to define identity, the menace of science as destructive vanity ...

Jun 16, 2014 | Full Review…

The effects are scanty, the drama gloomy, the philosophy of the film thick as a cloud of ozone. The plot is not all that original either.

May 23, 2011 | Full Review…

Andrei Tarkovsky spins a strange, slow but absorbing parable on life and love in the guise of a sci-fi theme.

May 30, 2007 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

More an exploration of inner than of outer space, Tarkovsky's eerie mystic parable is given substance by the filmmaker's boldly original grasp of film language and the remarkable performances by all the principals.

May 30, 2007 | Full Review…

It's a smart response to the superficial excesses of the sci-fi genre.

Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Solaris

Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris is a masterwork of Science Fiction cinema that ranks up there with some of the finest in the genre. Solaris is a simple idea, but the way it's handled is exceptional. In Tarkovsky's hands, the subject is grand, and the result is bold, Sci Fi epic that is visually stunning and brilliantly acted. The film is breathtaking in its execution and director Andrei Tarkovsky vision is uncompromising and he delivers a picture that is a definite classic of the genre, one that is ambitious in its ideas and it is a movie is unforgettable. I said that the idea is quite simple, and it is, but the way the concept is expressed on-screen, it makes for a truly engrossing form of storytelling and with phenomenal set designs, So0laris is truly a beautiful looking film. This picture should be seen by any film lover that wants a truly compelling story mixed with stunning visuals. One of the reasons that Solaris stands out among other Science Fiction films is that it uses the bare necessitates to create something grand, and the end result is a flawless piece of cinema that ranks among one of the finest Science Fiction films ever made. Along with 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars: A New Hope, Solaris has helped define the genre for many years to come after its release. While using a simple plot, director Andrei Tarkovsky was able to get the most out of the film by focusing on a unique style that is simple unforgettable. This film is a must watch for any genre fan, and I highly recommend it to viewers who are looking for a truly grand film to watch, then Solaris is that film. Solaris is a truly unique picture to watch, relying and terrific visuals to elevate its story, and boasting phenomenal performances from its cast; it has earned its place among the genres finest works, and is like its contemporaries a ground breaking effort in Science Fiction cinema.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

½

You really have to be in the right mood and frame of mind to watch this and get all the way through. That doesn't mean you need to be high, but that might make things a little more interesting. The comparisons to 2001 are warranted, but only to an extent. Thematically, this movie has more in common with something like Vertigo. If you can handle long, slow, "heavy" art films with a loose plot, then this is for you. I'm not a huge fan of films like this, but I was able to get through this without much effort, which is amazing. Brilliant, poetic, visually stunning, and more like an experience than anything else. If you want something different, check this out.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

½

A laboriously long science-fiction film gives time for deep meditation about human existence and its perplexing themes. A bit tad too long, but it must be, in all its mystery. Its haunting, and has me rooted to my own life and thinking..

Adriel Lim
Adriel Lim

Super Reviewer

Evolutionary philosopher Brian Thomas Swimme recently hosted an enlightening PBS program called "Journey of the Universe". In it, Swimme postulates that there exists an awareness or sentience to energy "that is more than what takes place in elementary particles but less than (our) human consciousness". There is a primitive discernment, he says, made by even the simplest cells due to what is suggested to be the "self-organizing dynamics of the universe". When a cell encounters a molecule, the cell must decide whether to incorporate it or not. On a celestial level, our Earth has developed a symbiotic relationship with the sun, "Earth's systems attune to the sun, changing molecular structures to absorb the sun's energy". What motivates life to stay living? Why is existing so important for unconscious energy? 99% of the human body is made up of only 6 chemical elements (oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus), and these elements come from the residue of stars exploded billions of years ago. Somehow, through some natural progression, we've come to exist from the dust of stars. It can almost be suggested from all this that life is the driving force of the universe. That the will to progress, evolve and *live* overcomes any other movitating power. In "Solaris" (both the film and the 1961 novel by Stanislaw Lem), mankind encounters a lifeform it cannot comprehend. A "living ocean" on the planet Solaris that seems to cause mysterious hallucinations to the astronauts investigating it. The Solaris Project has spent decades orbiting the planet in a space station, trying to make contact with the alien lifeform, but rather than enlightenment, the project only seems to get further mired in confusion. So, psychologist Kris Kelvin is sent up to the space station to investigate the matter and see if the project might need to be permanently closed. Kelvin is highly skeptical of the supernatural nature of the phenomenon occurring on the station, dismissing them as mere hallucinations, but almost from the moment he arrives there, he's sucked into their existence by the appearance of his dead wife. The scientists believe the alien consciousness ("the ocean") is creating neutrino-based lifeforms from their own repressed memories. Well, the word "lifeforms" might be contested, as some of the scientists believe they are living and others believe them to be just physical hallucinations that exist only as a part of their mind. The manifestation of Kelvin's wife knows she's not the original wife and doesn't share the same memories. She is composed only of what Kelvin believed his wife to be. But given these parameters, she accepts and functions and exists in her "state". By whatever definition you choose for "life", she lives, but is still not human. Director Andrei Tarkovsky's languidly ponderous film isn't about space aliens or body snatchers, but the nature of life and humanity's fundamentally willful isolation in the universe. We don't understand because we choose not to. We fail to make contact because we don't comprehend what we're looking at or looking for. This explains why the planet Solaris' motivation for creating life from the astronauts memories is never learned or even suggested. As the closing scene of the movie suggests, we grasp at things to understand them, but are left fundamentally alone in the universe.

Devon Bott
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

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