Solyaris (original title)
Summary: A once busy space station which orbits a mysterious ocean-covered planet, named Solaris, was built to hold over 80 residents but is now only occupied by three scientists. The mental state of the scientists have grown concern after they send a number of confusing signals and so Kris Kelvin (Donatas Banionis), a psychologist, is sent to investigate and determine whether the mission should continue. After Kelvin has been told past tales of delusional occupants at the station and unusual hallucinations they’ve had whilst being aboard, he is understandably apprehensive especially upon arrival when he finds the station particularly run-down and in disarray. Being greeted by only two out of the three scientists it’s hard to ignore their cold and secretive reception until Kelvin himself begins to encounter the planet’s supernatural powers despite being high above it.
My review: This was the first film I’d seen of director Tarkovsky and although some complain of the film’s long, slow-paced narrative; upon reflection I feel this only adds to the films cold and mystifying character. Every detail of the set, costume, acting and shot sequences absorb you into a state mirroring its own characters and their confusion on what is happening on the station and why. I’ve found this a great skill of Tarkovsky’s, to capture you in this way and particularly in this film, where the floaty existence of the scientists aboard feels as though they’re actually lost and drifting out on Solaris’ endless seas. A truly great and chilling movie.