Friday, September 08, 2006


This Soviet 2001 might be my favorite Tarkovsky film--I think Andre Rubilev has to take the back seat from now on.

Cosmonaut Kris Kelvin flies out to a Soviet space station circling the planet Solaris. There's some controversy about the mission, because dudes have croaked out there, and the survivors insist they've seen some pretty weird shit. Is Solaris a sentient being? Or are the cosmonauts merely hallucinating? Kelvin is sent to find out. As soon as he arrives his dead ex-wife appears, corporeal and a bit confused. Kelvin is way perturbed, and launches her into space. She appears again. The ocean which covers Solaris is some sort of gigantic neural net that can perceive the desires of humans and present them as physical manifestations. This is troubling to the two remaning dudes manning the space station, who are plagued not by ex-wives but by young girls and mal-formed dwarves.

Like 2001, Solaris is largely about the evolution of human consciousness in a technological age. It is also a very subtle farce ripping on the group mind and idealism of the Soviet system. When the alien manifested as Kelvin's wife begins turning human she is haunted by a Breughel print that in turn reminds her of films she's seen of Earth. Shortly after, she tries to kill herself. The human condition! Loneliness and despair in the company of others, and loneliness and despair without the comfort of others. The sentient ocean on Solaris can't understand.

Good stuff. Wish I'd had some good buds to smoke to accompany my viewing.

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