Ground control has been receiving strange transmissions from the remaining residents of the Solaris space station. When cosmonaut and psychologist Kris Kelvin is sent to investigate, he experiences the strange phenomena that afflict the Solaris crew, sending him on a voyage into the darkest recesses of his own consciousness. In Solaris
, the legendary Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky (Ivan’s Childhood
, Andrei Rublev
) gives us a brilliantly original science-fiction epic that challenges our conceptions about love, truth, and humanity itself.
Criterion issued a double disc of Andrei Tarkovsky's haunting Solaris
in 2002, so what's new about this 2011 release? The actual transfer of the film, that's what: this hi-def version is absolutely lush in its colors and textures, from the eerie waving of underground reeds in the Earth sequences to the swirling oceans of the planet Solaris. The difference could be a game-changer, even if you're already a fan of the film; when a director seeks to put you through a complete aural-visual experience, the detail is everything. The other special features are retained from the previous Criterion set, and they are definitive: half-hour interviews with the marvelously descriptive actress Natalya Bondarchuck and cinematographer Vadim Yusov, a 16-minute interview with art director Mikhail Romadin (who remembers Tarkovsky's reaction to seeing the great special effects of 2001
: "Let's make ours look like a broken-down old bus and not a futuristic fantasy"), and a 21-minute talk with the film's inventive composer, Eduard Artemyev. About 25 minutes of alternate or deleted scenes are interesting if not essential. The commentary track, with Graham Petrie and Vida Johnson, is formal but informed, and Phillip Lopate's essay sets the table nicely. --Robert Horton