March 14, 2003


Watched Solaris the other night. This is the 1972 version directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. The film opens on simple pastoral scenes with no music or dialogue. Seeing it on this DVD, the visuals are exquisitely detailed and notable for looking like real locations. The colors are broadly varied, but all within normal natural hues. Everything seems a little muted, but I think it's only in contrast to the stuff I usually see in films which is exaggerated beyond what real natural landscapes look like. There's one shot in particular of an aquatic plant's leaves undulating in the current of the water in a stream that I could watch all day long, it's so beautiful.

The movie continues to be great looking even after the first couple of minutes when the dialogue and story start in. The talking (Russian with English subtitles for this monolingual watcher) is nearly as spare as the imagery at least in the beginning. It's not too clear what's going on. That's okay in the early parts when the things people say seem like things real people would really say, but when Kris Kelvin gets to the station above the planet Solaris, when the story is actually starting to unfold, the dialogue becomes like a strange philosophical subtext masquerading as conversation. Granted, the characters are all undergoing sanity-bending circumstances (immortal versions of people from the station-dwellers' pasts and imaginations appear and interact with the crew in often frightening and inscrutable ways), but even with that, it is hard to extract any practical meaning from what the characters say to each other.

And, okay, I get that this is partly the point, but I still expect my abstruse philosophical tracts to be good stories in addition to being mind-bending experiences. I need to go read the book.

Verdict: 2 stars (out of 4)

Posted by jeffy at March 14, 2003 09:38 PM