Solaris USSR 1972

Saturday August 6th at 5.00 p.m.


This is a film by Andrei Tarkovsky which is circulating as part of a package of his films Sculpting Time. If you are in time you can pick up a set of Lobby Cards on the package distributed by Curzon Artificial Eye. The card for this film quotes Philip Horne in The Telegraph,

“a hallucinatory, richly sensuous masterpiece.”

The film was produced in 1972 and there is a Hollywood remake (2002) directed by Steven Soderberg: this original is better. The film  is adapted from a science-fiction novel by Stanislaw Lem. The book, and the film, are what is known as SF, ‘hard’ science fiction. The film has parallels with Kubrick’s earlier 2001 (1968), but this is a richer and more ambiguous work.

Officially the film is about a scientist sent to the Solaris Space Station where unusual and inexplicable influences are at work. It is a mute point if the focus of the film is the situation on the station or the personal and psychological exploration which the protagonist undergoes.

Tarkovsky’s style is slow, ambiguous and he is given to long takes, His narratives are unconventional and he plays with memory, space and time. The film runs for 165 minutes but if you engage with the film it will not seem that long. The film uses both black and white and colour in Sovscope. The music accompanying the film is both on the organ (Bach) and electronic (Artemyev).

Coming a little later in August is an earlier feature Ivan’s Childhood (1962), which shows, in black and white, characters on the borderline between the Soviet and Nazi armies in World War II. Another title is Andrei Rublev (1966), which screened at the Hyde Park Picture House in 2015 from a 35mm print. This package of titles is circulating on DCPs. Hopefully they will be good transfers, as Tarkovsky’s visual mastery is one of his strengths.

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