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

RogerEbert.com

Thumb grace poster

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace is two days of Baptist church condensed to 90 minutes and injected directly into your soul.

Thumb shoah four sisters

Shoah: Four Sisters

In four short features, the late Claude Lanzmann links the stories of four women that he interviewed for his landmark documentary Shoah.

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…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog 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.

Advertisement

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

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

In the '90s, Batman was at its best in Mask of the Phantasm

An appreciation of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm as its 25th anniversary approaches.

There Is No Spoon: Watching The Matrix Trilogy in 2018

A review of the 4K Blu-ray box set for The Matrix Trilogy.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus