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Categories: Movie Reviews

Get ready for one of the pure, all-time classic sci-fi experiences.


Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris remains one of the most groundbreaking, intellectual and thought-provoking sci-fi films ever. It is rare that such a fine example of the genre would rely so heavily on psychological process and not so much on visual effects, as the majority of classics in the genre would. At nearly two and three-quarter hours long, this is a movie that demands your attention and thought.

In terms of visual style, this 1972 production, adapted from a novel by Stanislaw Lem, does not look out of place in 2016 with widescreen television and contemporary cityscapes that are very slick for the period.

The film has been described as ‘The Russian 2001‘, but Solaris does lend a more psychological edge than Kubrick’s iconic offering, tending to bring a far greater humanity to the central protagonist, Kris Kelvin, than Kubrick attempted to bring to David Bowman or Frank Poole during their mission to Jupiter.

Kelvin is a psychologist, sent on a mission to the Solaris Space Station, situated above a galactic ocean, where he is confronted with a skeleton crew of three, out of dozens, to prove whether or not certain experiences are valid and whether they can be utilized to greater effect for the greater good of mankind. It isn’t long before the suicide of one of the three remaining scientists awakens certain thoughts and memories that become a little too real for Kelvin to handle….


I won’t reveal any more about the plot of Solaris, as it is only fair that you experience this magnificent piece of Russian cultural cinema. I would also suggest that you watch this without curious children around, as it is one of the few sci-fi experiences that demands a truly mature and well-formed intelligence. Don’t expect big action sequences or spectacular laser battles, but allow the ideas and concepts that embrace the heart of the story it is trying to tell.

It is always a pleasure to experience first-hand a movie you have heard so much about, and always more satisfying when you can embrace a film with the intellectual heights that Solaris brings. It is that rare gem, a movie that can be enjoyed both on the big-screen and small without any diminishing impact. 

A true example of a film that can be discussed at many a dinner party.

Solaris is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray as part of Curzon Artificial Eye’s series on Tarkovsky. The disc includes a 40-page booklet, and the 2-dics special edition Blu-Ray also includes “Andrei Tarkovsky’s Metaphysical Dream Zone” with film psychoanalyst Mary Wild, a featurette on actor Donatas Banionis, and an interview with actor Natalia Bondarchuk.

John Higgins

John Higgins is an ongoing Contributing Writer for Film and TV Now, an online Film website, writing reviews and articles. He is also a qualified scriptwriter, having graduated from Euroscript in 2012, and is a member of the BKSTS. In April 2016, he completed an Intensive course in Cinematography with the London Film Academy and is now looking to collaborate on future projects. He also has his own Facebook page: John Higgins - Film Review, which he launched in 2015 - 16.

Posted on Aug 1, 2016

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