Absorbing, haunting and gorgeous. (by david-winborn)
Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick decided to make the 'proverbial good sci-fi movie' when they jointly created the film and novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. There have been few comparably good sci-fi films since. Solaris is, however, one of them.Whilst the Russian original is an epic and demanding film, Soderbergh's work should not be considered a remake. The director himself considers it his own interpretation of the book, quite apart from the earlier film. Because of this, the two should not be compared.If you hated Alien 3 because it didn't have any guns or 2001 because the <more>
ending was confusing, do not waste your time with Solaris. It is not for you.Conceptually, the story is standard psychological sci-fi fare, with simple but effective theological and philosophical themes. In this respect it breaks little or no new ground over the Tarkovsky predecessor. It has elements of romance, thriller, and drama, all necessarily set in sci-fi land, as the setting is integral to the storytelling.Visually, the Solaris future is a conservative, believable vision, reminiscent in look to that of Gatacca. Solaris space is a minimal, beautiful place to be. Not dirty and used like the celebrated Alien 'space trucker' look, Solaris vessels are gleaming, intricate and stylish, but seem to have been designed by engineers rather than artists, such is the practical realism. Their design is complemented by some of the best CG spaceship effects I have seen incredible that it has taken this long for computer graphics to look as good as the model-based technology of 2001, Star Wars and Aliens in the 1960s and 70s .Solaris, the planet itself, is a clever piece of art, seemingly evidencing a degree of emotion by its colouring and detail, as no doubt was the intention. In the commentary to the DVD it is mentioned that many of the lingering shots of the planet were cut, which may have been necessary for the pacing of the film, but I found every shot an absorbing spectacle and would have enjoyed more.The sets and costumes also retain the sense of engineering realism combined with beauty. Soderbergh's eye for detail is evident here, as everything has a purpose and look that fits perfectly with the overall feel. Somehow, this look is original and avoids many of the clichés we come to expect of sci-fi mise-en-scene.Channel Four recently showed this on UK television and billed it along the lines of a 'George Clooney Sci-Fi Romance'. A tenuous interpretation, perhaps, but you can see why they did it. Whilst Clooney adds Hollywood star appeal, fans will be slightly disappointed, not because his work here is in anyway weak, but because he is understated, convincing and very un-Hollywood. With Solaris he adds another fine performance to an already commendably diverse filmography.Natascha McElhone too plays a difficult, emotive role without resorting to melodrama. The small supporting cast doesn't put a foot wrong, with a delightfully odd but subtly creepy performance from Jeremy Davies worthy of note.Solaris is slow, abstract, haunting stuff. The direction is subtle, dare I say almost Kubrick-esquire. The camera work is non-intrusive, solid stuff without gimmick apart from a touch of shaky-cam in the restaurant scene where Kelvin meets Rheya or overstatement.Add to this a beautiful, timeless score by Cliff Martinez and you have one of the better psychological sci-fi movies ever made.The majority of people will hate Solaris. Let them. Let them have instead the mindless Hollywood trash released every week and keep this treasure for yourself.
A highly spiritual, highly moving Sci-Fi love story... (by SdwOne)
I can see why a lot of people have problems with this film... It's VERY ambiguous... Mysterious... Dreamlike... Etc etc...So, to cut to the chase, you'll either love it or hate it...I think it's one of the best Sci-Fi's I've ever seen... And I've seen quite a few. It's pretty unique in its own way... A kind of dreamy, romantic 2001.You won't really get this film... I think that is its biggest appeal. It's truly mysterious and un-defined... But to be totally honest, isn't Space, real Space, like that???Who knows what kind of forces exists out there in <more>
the Void... Who knows their true nature...? This film captures that sense of the Great Unknown and twists it into a very moving love story, which revolves around George Clooney's character and his dead wife the beautiful Natascha McElhone .And at the centre of this film... Solaris... A place, an entity, an alien artifact, a space-time anomaly... Who knows...?To be honest, I've yet to work out 2001 and 2010... I've yet to read the books which might, perhaps, give me further insights, but those films are still very mysterious to me... That's why I love them...The same goes for this film... If you're one of those people who doesn't mind being faced with more questions than answers... Then check this beautiful film out... You WON'T be disappointed...If on the other hand, you're one of those people who wants, no NEEDS an answer to absolutely EVERYTHING... Then stay well away...Remember, Space is BIG... And holds more questions than we can EVER hope to answer... So embrace the mystery, don't be afraid of it...
About 20 minutes into "Solaris," I noticed that there were some strong similarities between this film and the video game "Silent Hill 2" this is a positive comparison, mind you, but I won't get into a discussion of SH2 here . My friend had asked me to rent it, and to be honest, I was wary of it, at first. I had heard bad things about it, and was prepared for it to be truly awful. What I got, instead, was one of the most beautiful and tragic things I've ever seen. Chris Kelvin George Clooney is a psychologist who has ample emotional baggage of his own. He is <more>
quiet and brooding, never letting on the torment that is going on in his mind. The pattern of his mundane life is disrupted when a couple of strangers show up with an ominous message: Chris's friend, Gibrarian Ulrich Tukur , who is in charge of a space ship that is investigating the planet Solaris, cryptically begs Chris to come to the ship and help them, never quite divulging what is wrong. Chris obliges, and before too long, has arrived on the ship. However, he finds that Gibrarian, along with one of the other scientists, is already dead. The only survivors are Snow Jeremy Davies , who seems eerily detached from all the madness that surrounds him, and Gordon Viola Davis , who is paranoid and suspicious of everyone, especially Chris. Chris is unable to convince Snow and Gordon to leave right away, unsure of what is going on. In the night, Chris is visited by the apparition of his wife, Rheya Natascha McElhone , who has been dead for three years. Thinking it a dream, Chris awakes, only to find out that Rheya is all too real.As it turns out, Solaris, for better or worse, creates 'visitors' for the crew members of the ship, which are fashioned from their feelings and memories. These visitors are manifestations of guilt, of regret, of longing, and of love. Chris, blaming himself for Rheya's suicide, is unable to fully comprehend the idea that the visitor is not real, because he so desperately needs the second chance that Rheya's 'ghost' represents. Therefore, he fights tooth and nail with Gordon, who wants to destroy Rheya and go back to earth. However, Rheya's increasing self-awareness drives her to despair, as she realizes she is not the Rheya that Chris remembers, and therefore allows herself to be destroyed. However, the ship itself is in grave danger. Snow's eerie calm was a mask for his deranged state of mind...and his treachery causes the ship to be put on a crash course with Solaris. Although Gordon is able to leave the ship, Chris, upon rumination, is not. He is left behind with Snow to face whatever is in the heart of Solaris, and what exactly he finds there is open to debate, without a doubt. Whatever it is, it provides peace, love, and forgiveness for his tortured soul. "Solaris," from it's gray, dark opening, to its beautiful, mystifying conclusion, is stunning. The music is amazingly haunting and lingers in your mind long after the last chord has faded. The visuals are stunning, and each scene is a work of great beauty. The clean, cold nature of the ship contrasts sharply with the raw power of emotion flowing between the four main characters, as they struggle with reality and unreality, and what they are and what they are not. The acting is remarkable, as well. I was a big fan of Clooney's performance in "O Brother Where Art Thou," but his work here was amazing. Fantastic. He really conveyed the brooding and suffering plaguing Kelvin's psyche, making the role his own. Natascha McElhone is also wonderfully cast as Rheya. Her confusion, her pain, and her mysterious, evasive nature are all portrayed beautifully. Both of these characters elicit so much love, sympathy, and frustration, that it's amazing how much you find yourself caring about and mourning for two souls that are as adrift as they are. Davis, Davies, and Tukur all do fine acting jobs, as well, to their credit. Davis is the force of reason on the ship, yet somewhat ominous, because one wonders who...or what...her visitor could be. Davies, the manic Snow, portrays the spooky character perfectly. He's excitable, and hyperactive, to be sure...yet, he doesn't seem to be bothered by anything around him. Tukur, as Gibrarian, really enhances the scenes he is in. The scene in which he converses with Chris from beyond the grave is very haunting and is a particular stand-out. Rarely have I seen a film that evokes as much emotion or portrays as much beauty as this one. Everything, from the sets, to the effects, to the acting, music, and visual style, form together to create a work of near perfection. My only complaint was that it was too short!What happens to Chris when he enters the heart of Solaris? There is no definitive answer to it, but trying to find one is a great exercise for the mind. See this movie with someone you love. Next time I see my girlfriend, she's being forced to watch this...I think it would have an even more profound emotional impact on couples 10/10
SF for the Blade Runner/2001 crowd... not necessarily for the Star Wars crowd (by Surecure)
First off, if you are looking for shoot 'em up, space ship flying through the stars, hunting aliens type of science fiction, don't even bother with this film. If you are looking for a Science Fiction film that explores the human condition in the way that Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey or Contact does, then this is right up your alley.This film is not about events and actions, it's about ideas and concepts. People looking for plot points to move them along will be bored to death with this film because most of the action of this film are those that will happen in your head. It <more>
is about people, desires, regrets and what we would be willing to do if we could have that one thing we cannot have back.Some people complain about the fact that Clooney's character of Chris does very little psychiatric work in this film. But, the truth of the matter is that his occupation is used more to propel his anti-faith views. I haven't seen it mentioned, but there is a reason why there are a lot of discussion about God, religion and faith in this film.Throughout the film, Chris questions and belittles Rheya's religious views, seeing the idea of putting stock in something that he sees as fantasy as being useless and just a crutch for people deluding themselves into a happiness based on illusion. Chris comes to realize that he would give up anything to be with Rheya, whether being with her is an illusion or not. His happiness depends on her, and he realizes that accepting what he needs is not a weakness -- as accepting faith is not a weakness -- it is simply a choice to fulfill one's life, whether it be real or illusion. And, as philosophers would argue, who can really say which is which?For those who want a science fiction film to make you think like Blade Runner does , this film is it. With a tremendous cast, beautiful production design, excellent direction, and one of the best film scores in recent years hats off to Cliff Martinez , I have no trouble recommending this film to anybody who is in the need of an intelligent, thought-provoking film.
Powerful, thought-provoking metaphysical journey - A great remake. (by mstomaso)
My two favorite examples of Hollywood utterly destroying GREAT foreign films are Vanilla Sky and City of Angels, which were abominations of two of my favorite films - Open Your Eyes and Wings of Desire. If you've seen Tarkovsky's brilliant "Solyaris" this film will seem more like an Americanized tribute than a Hollywoodization of a great piece of Soviet cinema. Some will likely ask why Soderbergh bothered to make this film if he couldn't improve on the original. Personally, I could not care less. This is a great film, and shows that it is possible for Americans to remake <more>
classic non-American films sensitively, intelligently and well.To cut to the chase - if you like sci-fi with a soul,which stretches the boundaries of imagination, explores the uncharted realms of the human condition as much as the unknown realities of the universe, and swims upstream against the currents of ethics, physics, and even metaphysics, you will probably enjoy this moody, slow, multi-leveled and heavily textured film. If you're looking for light entertainment, stay away from this. This is a slow, intense film - dominated by dialog - and there is no action to speak of. Also, you need to let this movie pour into you slowly, so if you're not in the right frame of mind to pay attention and be receptive, you should save it for another occasion.The cast is exceptionally good. This is unequivocally the best performance I have seen out of George Clooney, but the supporting cast and the female lead all blew me away. Soderbergh does have a talent for making actor's look good, even mediocre actors, but there is nothing mediocre about any of the performances in this film.Though I recognize his talent, Soderberg's dialogical technique has worn particularly thin with me. The once fresh fast-paced, rapid-fire cuts and close-ups with the low-toned exchange of sentence fragments, and the myriad Soderberg imitators, particularly in television crime drama, have really gotten on my nerves. Solaris, however, is a bit different. There are only a few "Soderbergh moments" in this rich remake of the classic bit of 1970s soviet SciFi "Solyaris". Both films are based on a novella by the brilliant Stanislaw Lem. This film, perhaps even more than Tarkovsky's 1972 edgy, dark, and intense original, will appeal to exactly the sort of movie-goer that Lem's writing appeals to. Neither film captures Lem's quirky sense of humor. I am quite glad that Soderbergh chose to make Solaris with very much the same atmospheric eeriness, plot, and intellectual and emotional depth as the original. It is a tribute to his artistic integrity that he recognizes the brilliance of the original work, and imitates it wherever he can do no better, adding subtle and appropriate nuances and embellishments to make it his own. Some examples are the wonderfully minimalistic soundtrack, and the very Soderbergh symbolic use of lighting and color saturation to shift from the retrospective to the live-action shot. Perhaps the best tribute I can give this film is the fact that I am going to watch the original again in a few days for comparative purposes.In other words, this isn't going to be for everybody, nor, even, for most. I am hardly surprised by the very low in my opinion ratings received by this film here on IMDb. Solaris is a love story, a story of exploring the fringes of sanity, and of questioning the very nature of reality, and much more. Enjoy it!
Thought-provoking, powerful and evocative film (by keyspoet)
I rented this film, then did some last minute Christmas shopping. While I was gone, my husband watched the first half of "Solaris" and turned it off - twice. He then watched "Terminator 3," which he enjoyed.After he went off to bed. I started "Solaris." Unlike my husband, I was hooked from the start, and thoroughly enjoyed being reeled in. This is what I look for in a film - a compelling, nuanced story, involving complex characters. Perhaps it appealed to me more than to some, because I have lost several loved ones in recent years, including my father who died <more>
three years ago today, and am therefore wrestling with the same questions pondered in the film. Or perhaps I'm just a sucker for a good story, deftly told.I don't think we would have necessarily had a better or worse film had Cameron written the screenplay, merely a different film altogether. I give him more credit than many on this board, as "The Abyss" is and remains a favorite film of mine, and only defied the laws of physics a few times. ;- Certainly "The Abyss" is a quieter and more introspective film than the Terminator series, but then again, the films do examine the same themes. It might have been interesting to see what Cameron would have done with "Solaris," hopefully sans car chases.Personally, I am glad Soderbergh wrote this version, as there is very little I would change. I enjoyed every minute of it. The musical score captured and enhanced the atmosphere quite well. I remember hearing about the original "Solaris," which came out the year I started high school, but I never saw it. Having now seen this version, I'll make it a point to do so, and I'll read the book as well. I will definitely be adding this film to my collection.As for my husband, I probably won't recommend that he see it right away. Instead, I'll let him see it over time, as he did "The Shipping News," which also put him off initially. Once he got past the move to Newfoundland, he began to understand the humor I saw in the film, but he still despises its more depressing aspects. Still, he considers my taste in films weird, and to date understands neither my love for "Jacob's Ladder" nor my devotion to "Six Feet Under."But then, he doesn't like jazz, either. ;-
The greatest film tragedies are the people with talent who get swallowed by the system.Soderbergh obviously has the mind of a filmmaker for the rest of us, those of us interested in reflexive films. He started life with 'Sex Lies,' a minor gem. In between his slickly wrapped cowpatties, he's shoehorned in some work that gives us hope: his 'Limey' was all about the perceptive eye. 'Frontal' was intelligently the obverse.He likes to be his own cinematographer and editor. He likes to work with 'simple' actors, those who know nothing about the larger issues of <more>
film and don't care: they just do their thing.This man has been able to live a double life until now, shifting between stupid films that made money and art which justifies a life. Depending on what world we live in, we forgave his excursions into the other. Now he tries something dangerous: both at the same time.The story and the existing Tarkovsky film are lovely explorations into the matter of created realities, intrusive memory and the nature of film creation. The Tarkovsky treatment took advantage of the fact that he was first someone who lived in a folded world of symmetries and hidden causality. His camera is highly architectural, it lingers and discovers truths in odd places, it incidentally discovers. It is not a knowing eye, but a languorous, understanding one involved in a complex set of t'ai chi movements.It shows a lot of courage for Soderbergh to enter this world of illusion, especially with Cameron in charge, someone whose notion of meditative image is a world that explodes slowly, accompanied by elevator music. Once again, Soderbergh uses actors that are too ignorant of the issues involved to get in the way.Where Tarkovsky had an eye rooted in the created world, Soderbergh stays in the real world. Where T's eye lingered, S's eye could have stuttered -- something S knows how to do. Instead, he plays it straight. We have no intelligent eye here at all. T had sets like 'Rear Windows,' where the actual architecture is a response to the nature of the eye. S has a shockingly ordinary space, similar in notion to the O'Hare terminal in Chicago. His eye never has a relationship at all with the space.There are a few interesting ambiguities, but these are all plot devices, not cinematic ones: we do not know if Gordan is a replicant; we do not know if the last scene takes place on 'real' Earth, or in a fabricated Earth in the real Kelvin's mind. We do not know the extent to which Gibarian's son is involved in the conspiracy to get Kelvin "home," and his relationship to an inferred affair between Gibarian and Rheya. All we have is the doorknob.Kelvin went on a watered down journey, but Soderbergh never answered the call.Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 4: Has some interesting elements.
Yes, like all good movies which deal with a certain future, this one too is destined to arouse interpretations. And what could be a better and more justified proof of the impact of any work of art?But besides all this, I was quite a bit amazed, that no one ever mentioned what seems to be the most obvious impression to me. That this is one of the most radical films about love that were ever made. To me, this is the perfect paraphrase about guilt, human failure, hope, final decisions and redemption. And in all this, Solaris resembles the only other movie which ever dared to put such questions <more>
and answered them the same way: Jean-Luc Godard's "Pierrot Le Fou". Especially the end of both films is so incredibly similar and, yes, radical that it is hardly to believe.PS: I only hope and pray that the studios will decide to finally release the uncut version of this masterpiece which is about twice as long as the one that was released on DVD.
Intelligent, touching, thought-provoking. Great cinema (by bobbygreenwood)
There's little point in me repeating what so many others have already said well enough.I didn't know what to expect from this film the first time I saw it, but as the credits rolled I was left with that great feeling of satisfaction at having been entertained by a film that is deep, challenging, emotive and thoroughly entertaining. I took away a lot from this film and did a fair bit of pondering.Reactions in the room were mixed. One friend just laughed out loud with a look that suggested he just didn't get any of it, and had been thoroughly bored. I personally don't understand <more>
how you can't get this film, but it demonstrates that it's not for everyone. Then again, I know people who never once laughed at The Big Lebowski, so...Maybe it's me getting old and sentimental, but I found the interplay between Chris and Rheya, both in the past and on the space station to be quite beautifully written and acted. Through snapshots of their relationship and her growing recall of events leading to her death, you are treated to a subtly understated but powerful insight into their relationship. I found watching them through the flashbacks to be tender, touching, romantic and tragic. It's quite gently understated and softly underplayed by Clooney and McElhorne. For me, it's rare to be moved in such a way.Others have remarked on the great existential themes within Solaris, so I won't bang on about them. Suffice to say, this should be in anyone's collection. Show it to your kids and make their brains and hearts swell.