one goes back to, again and again: a favorite novel as comfortable
as an overstuffed armchair, a song that still makes one feel the
way it did on that summer's day a long time ago. Solaris
is playing this Thursday and Friday at Lincoln Center and there
is, among the many reasons to go see, again, or for the first
time, the desire to step outside of fast-moving time.
is no glitzy futuristic science fiction creation -- instead this
world is decrepit, slow, meditative, with sudden scenes of
shocking beauty. As The New York Times put it, back
in the 70's when the film was released: Outer
space is shabbiness, lots of tea and urgent philosophical
discussions that leave no time for shaving.
Solaris, Andrei Tarkovsky's 1972 sci-fi film based on the
book by Stanislaw Lem, is sometimes considered the director's
response to Stanley Kubrick's 2001. But the Russian
165-minute film is no mere artistic riposte -- it is a beautiful,
finely-crafted meditation on the very nature of what it means to
is framed by a conversation between Chris Kelvin, a
psychologist, and Henri Burton, a cosmonaut who has just returned
from the space station orbiting the watery Solaris. Burton
is in a state of nervous agitation - he is convinced that the
aquatic Solaris, its sea like some brain, some consciousness, is
responsible for eerie happenings and deaths aboard. Kelvin
travels to the station where the remaining crew members are acting
strangely -- the cosmonauts have sent X-ray probes down to the
planet which then responded with its own probes which are able to
make memories real, even recreating people from one's past.
These include, now, a double of Kelvin's dead wife Hari (the
beautiful Natalya Bondarchuk) - a complex creature of Kelvin's own
memories, able to be recreated over and over again, who can feel,
and is unaware of the original's suicide.
film explores the ephemeral....Are we the sum of our memories?
What do we love when we love: the beloved or our idea of the
beloved? Tarkovsky - his moments of other-worldly beauty
(scenes, also in movies such as Andrei Rublev and The
Mirror) -- here, in Solaris, the memorable zero-gravity
tableau which steals our breath away: Hari, Chris, and lit candles
float through the air, as if Tarkovsky were reaffirming his faith
in the mystical in man -- memories that can glow incandescent....
Solaris, Lincoln Center
Soderbegh's remake of Solaris,