Andrei Tarkovsky’s internationally acclaimed film Solaris
(1972) transfers us to a barren location of the space station as it immerses us
into the characters’ contention with an immeasurably superior adversary, the
hostile super consciousness, “The Ocean.” The film’s protagonist, Kris Kelvin,
a scholar, who is committed to dealing with facts and would not agree to
anything less than hard evidence, is offered just that. His reified past is
given another span of life as he is challenged to relive it. Understandably,
this sci-fi content came as a surprise to Tarkovsky’s audiences and critics.
After all, in his previous films the director established himself as the poet
of earthly life. Yet, despite its setting and subject-matter, Solaris is
not a conventional sci-fi. It is closely connected to Tarkovsky’s other films
by its themes, questions and concerns as well as the artistic means for
approaching them. Just like Tarkovsky’s other films, Solaris is about
understanding the meaning of human existence and overcoming our limitations. In
our discussion we will address these thematic concerns as well as the film’s
artistry which place this classic among the top achievements of world cinema.