Andrei Tarkovsky’s ‘Solaris’ versus the Steven Soderbergh version, plus a diss about Kubrick

Posted on May 14, 2020

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Solaris is a planet capable of reaching into the recesses of your mind, the places where you’ve tucked away your most painful memories. In the case of the protagonist, these memories are of his wife…

One of my favourite disses in cinema history is Andrei Tarkovsky calling 2001: A Space Odyssey a “comic book”. It can be found in Naum Abramov’s interview — catalogued in Andrei Tarkovsky: Interviews, in the chapter “Dialogue with Andrei Tarkovsky about Science Fiction on the Screen” — from 1970. That was during the time Tarkovsky was adapting Stanisław Lem’s novel, Solaris, into a film. (The film came out in 1972.)

Abramov mentions that most sci-fi directors focus less on the central idea of the film than on impressing the viewer with art direction: the details of everyday life on other worlds, or the details of a spacecraft’s construction. “I think Kubrick’s Space Odyssey is guilty of that,” he says, leadingly. We can practically hear his whispered prayer that Tarkovsky will pick up the cue and respond with a quote for the ages.

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