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“We don't want other worlds; we want a mirror.”

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Based on the novel by Stanisław Lem, Solaris explores humanity's place in the universe and question the limits of our understanding. In the near-ish future psychologist Kris (Donatas Banionis) is sent to assess the crew of an aging space station, evaluating whether they can continue their study of the mysterious oceanic planet Solaris after a series of strange occurrences. He arrives to find most of the crew either missing or mad, and soon realises that Solaris may be something much greater and more dangerous than they could have imagined. Tarkovsky's parable of loss, grief and redemption stretches the boundaries of science fiction to arrive at a place of spiritual wonder.

Why See This Film

Winner of the Grand Prix Spécial du Jury at the 1972 Cannes Films Festival, Solaris has been praised by directors like Akira Kurosawa and Stanley Kubrick as one of their favourite films. Despite comparisons to Kubrick's 2001 (released the same year) it occupies an entirely different space, driven by the strength and all too human vulnerability of leads Banionis and Bondarchuk as star-crossed lovers. Tarkovsky's restraint and focus on the interiority of characters combined with breathtakingly inventive visual language cements the legacy of Solaris as a landmark work of existentialist science fiction— more than 50 years on this film still feels like a future just within our reach.

Andrei Tarkovsky
Donatas Banionis, Natalya Bondarchuk, Jüri Järvet
167 minutes
Russian with English subtitles

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