(1972/Criterion Collection Blu-ray)
A- Sound: B+
Extras: C+ Film: B-
continues to rigorously re-release and update much of their back catalog for
Blu-ray, and Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris
is one of the latest to get the deluxe treatment. Often seen as a Russian imitation of 2001: A Space Odyssey (on Blu-ray,
reviewed elsewhere on this site), Solaris
has long lived in the shadow of that epic cinematic achievement. While there
are a few similarities, Tarkovsky took a much different route that feels more
organic and human than Kubrick's tale of technology gone amok.
enough, Solaris was limited by
budgetary constraints and could not have approached the grandeur and scale seen
in that earlier film even if that's what had been desired. Much of the runtime is consumed by scenes that
take place on Earth, and when on the space station, the sets are either basic
or more like a room you'd find in a typical house.
these limitations, the filmmakers were constantly coming up with ways to take
common everyday places and things and disguise them as the world of the future.
One scene in particular sees them
re-purposing the city of Tokyo
into a futuristic metropolis, aided only by camera trickery and sound design. While the effect doesn't come off quite as
intended, it works well enough to pass without too much questioning from the
as I enjoyed it, there are those who have been unimpressed with certain aspects
of this screen translation (the author of the source material among them), but
over the years public opinion has shifted enough for it to be considered worthy
of classic status.
needed some form of reappraisal is understandable - it can be difficult to
decipher what's going on the first time through it. However subsequent viewings provide clarity
and reveal layers that had gone previously unnoticed, making the experience of
watching it over again all the more enriching.
track is clean and well preserved. It is
in Russian with optional English subtitles; the track is uncompressed PCM mono,
and retains the original sound mix. Though
the image quality is similar to that of the DVD, it has been beefed up
significantly since the older Criterion Collection release, with improvement
most noticeable in scenes featuring a lot of white, as well as considerable
leaps forward to be seen in the few scenes that are monochromatic. One scene that was the wrong color has been
correct and the 1080p digital High Definition 2.35:1 aspect ratio far
outperforms all previous versions.
include several interviews about Tarkovsky, as well as a rather nice booklet
that features a translated article written by Akira Kurosawa in praise of the
director. There is also a full length
audio commentary, but while it is conducted with a lot of insight, there is
very little enthusiasm to be heard, making it quite the chore to listen to
without dozing off.
Solaris is anything but briskly paced,
but the haunting camerawork provides every shot with lots of information for
the viewer to pore over; helping along what could have become an exercise in
tedium. Although this isn't a film that
will appeal to everyone, admirers of classic science fiction would do well to
see it if they haven't done so already.
on the older Criterion DVD and the 2002 Stephen Soderbergh remake of the film,
try this link:
- David Milchick