HPPUB MOVIE REVIEW of Solaris (both films)


Title:  Solaris

Release Date:  2002

Nationality and Language: USA, English

Running time:  96 Minutes

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

Distributor and Production Company:  20th Century Fox

Director; Writer: Steven Soderbergh, based on the novel by Stanislaw Lem


Cast:   George Clooney, Natascha McElhone, Jeremy Davies, Viola Davis, Ulrich Tukur

Technical:  Panavision, Digital

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I remember seeing the original 1972 Russian film at the Ziegfeld Theater in Midtown Manhattan in 1973, during my coming-out days, when I was still dealing with commutes to New York City from the New Jersey burbs for my emerging gay life. The Russian film was a sprawling canvas, with fascinating images and some shots of everyday life in Moscow as well as in space. I remember one final scene on the Solaris planet itself.


The remake is simpler and more focused on the central philosophical issues, whether consciousness or soul is objectively tied to a person’s earthly body or can be resurrected at will by an entity (God, or in this case an organic planet) for an existence that the person has originally inherited from (in an object-oriented sense). The love story between the psychiatrist and his reborn wife is touching but a but sentimental. The philosophical quandaries are a lot more interesting. One is reminded of the identity trading in the David Lynch film, “Lost Highway.”  The speculation that an entity could bring this back to earth an “infect” earth (through boson streams) in such a way that human beings turn into mirages, is especially interesting, if the stuff of Wes Craven (“They”). 


I wanted to see more of the planet. Is it an ocean, or is it more like a gas giant with the layers and the metallic hydrogen ball underneath a crushing atmosphere. At the end, it seems as though the psychiatrist gets his family back (maybe the chance to parent) if he lives somewhere in the atmosphere of the planet, forever. Hello, Jupiter. (I thought that the most interesting worlds in our solar system would be Io, Europa, Titan, and Triton.)






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