In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_aprsjzadl6cggwjedxexw7kfnbc

Transcendence

"Transcendence" is a serious science fiction movie filled with big ideas and powerful images, but it never quite coheres, and the end is a copout.

Thumb_bears

Bears

"Bears" could have used a lot more science; more substantive information in the place of wacky one-liners. Still, the images trump everything.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Far Flunger Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Solaris

  |  

"Solaris" is an interesting exception to the rule. It's a 2 1/2 hour Russian epic, filmed at great expense, and yet it's about the lives and emotions of its characters -- not about gadgets or monsters or space opera props. The movie's based on a novel by Stanislas Lem, one of the leading figures of Eastern European science-fiction, and takes place partly on a Soviet space station orbiting the mysterious planet Solaris, and partly in the imaginations and subconscious of the station's crew members.

The planet's surface is covered by a vast ocean that's apparently alive and sentient. And the ocean has the ability to materialize "guests" on the space station: exact duplicates of people remembered by the crew. A psychologist is sent to the station to sort out the situation, and Solaris obligingly presents him with a duplicate of the girl he loved and left, and who committed suicide many years ago. And this is where the movie gets interesting (after a pretty slow start). It concerns itself with matters of love, dignity and our relationship with God. The girl, or "guest," is a truly original science-fiction creation. She isn't one of those aliens in disguise who are out to conquer mankind; in fact, she doesn't fit into any of the standard categories of aliens who take the shape of men. Even though she's manufactured from neutrinos, she is the person she appears to be. And what's a person, anyway?

To complicate things further, the girl has been provided by Solaris with free will and self-knowledge (those two most burdensome gifts from any god), and knows that the person she's "based" on is dead. Now there's a metaphysical double-reverse for you: She's so real she knows she isn't real, and so aware she knows she shouldn't be aware. She forgives the psychologist's original attempt to kill her, and then tries to kill herself because, you see, she's just as much in love with him as her "original" was, and so she's tormented by doubt and inadequacy.

"Solaris" isn't a fast-moving action picture; it's a thoughtful, deep, sensitive movie that uses the freedom of, science-fiction to examine human nature. It starts slow, but once you get involved, it grows on you.

Popular Blog Posts

Hashtag Activism and the #CancelColbert campaign

The recent #CancelColbert campaign on Twitter raises all kinds of issues about racism, but also about hashtag activism.

For the love of it: notes on the decline of Entertainment Weekly, the firing of Owen Gleiberman, and the ongoing end of an era

Owen Gleiberman's sacking as lead film critic of Entertainment Weekly — part of a ritual bloodletting of staffers at ...

Able-Bodied Actors and Disability Drag: Why Disabled Roles are Only for Disabled Performers

Scott Jordan Harris argues that disabled characters should not be played by able-bodied actors.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus