Customer Review

169 of 178 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Russian films ever!, October 19, 2004
This review is from: Solaris (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
It also compares it with the version released by the Russian Cinema Council (RUSCICO)

Solaris, released as Solyaris in Russia, is among my favorite Russian films, and my favorite film by Andrei Tarkovsky. It is based on the sci-fi novel by Stanislaw Lem. It is been considered a Russian version of 2001 A Space Odyessy. While some consider it to be the polar opposite.

An interesting note is that the Criterion Collection edition was released exacltly one day before the theactrical release of the 2002 remake directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring George Clooney.

It is about a space station orbiting an apparently sentient planet. The planet has the capability of reading the minds of the scientists aboard the space station and created 'doubles' of people from their past. When a psychologist comes aboard to investigate, he is confounded by the recreation of his dead wife.

It is a great film. Although it is slow paced, it has some excelent and unique cinematography. One example is one scene near the begining of the film where it focuses on raindrops landing in a full teacup. The special effects in this film are quite impressive given the time, place, and budget of filming. To top it off the film's score includes a superb rendition of J.S. Bach's Choral Prelude in F Minor, "Ich ruf zu' dir Herr Jesu Christ" BWV 639.

There are some subltle differences betweent he Criterion DVD and the RUSCICO DVD. The most noticable is a 5 minute POV scene of driving through the streets of a city. The scene is in both color and B&W. In the RUSCICO version part of the scene segues from B&W to color. on the Criterion DVD this part is solely in color.

The DVD has some excellent special features
Disc one contains the film plus an audio commentary by Vida Johnson and Graham Petrie, who are experts on Andrei Tarkovsky and are co-authors of the book, The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky: A Visual Fugue.

Disc two contains 9 deleted and alternate scenes. There are also interviews with composer, Eduard Artimiev, lead actress Natalya Bondarchuk, (daughter War & Peace director, Sergei Bondarchuk) cinematographer Vadim Yusov, and art director Mikhal Romadin. There is also an excerpt from a Stanislaw Lem documentary.

The RUSCICO DVD is also good and has filmographys of cast & crew, a production photo album, an interview with Andrei Tarkovsky's sister, a biography of Andrei Tarkovsky and Stanislaw Lem, and a biographical film on lead actor Donatis Banionis.

Both versions are worth getting but the Criterion Collection version is far better. This one is a Must buy!
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 24, 2011 2:40:55 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 24, 2011 2:41:46 AM PDT
A really wonderful review.Tarkovski was an innovative film director ( in his russian way ), but we can't forget the brilliant novel
by Stanislaw Lem ,the great polish writer , one of the outstanding figures of science fiction literature of the Twentieth Century.

Posted on Dec 10, 2012 9:14:03 AM PST
john smith says:
Soderbergh's film is not a remake of Tarkovsky's, but an entirely different interpretation of Lem's novel.
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