released OUT NOW!/ 22 aUGUsT 1972/1979 | 12/PG | Blu-ray/dVd Director andrei Tarkovsky Cast Natalya Bondarchuk, donatas Banionis, aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, anatoliy solonitsyn
At nearly three hours a-piece, Andrei Tarkovsky’s two science fiction classics are demanding, but rewarding journeys into the human soul.
Solaris ( ) mixes the crisp outer-space sterility of Kubrick’s 2001 (a film that the Russian director is said to have loathed) with human tragedy. Psychologist Kelvin is dispatched to a station orbiting the planet Solaris to help the troubled crew, only to encounter his dead wife, apparently resurrected by an intelligence on the planet below. It’s a haunting premise, beautifully filmed, but with a 40-minute infodump first act that can be charitably described as “taxing”. Solaris rewards patience, but you will tire of Kelvin staring blankly at monitors.
Stalker ( ) is, if anything, even more oblique, and yet its lack of plot works to the film’s advantage. A mysterious event has created The Zone – a strange, contaminated area now sealed off by the military. Three men journey into it and into themselves in a film that owes more to Waiting For Godot than it does Roadside Picnic, the novel it was based on. It’s visually and sonically arresting, with Tarkovsky lulling you into a dream-state of decaying power plants and water-logged dereliction. Today, it feels like an eerie premonition of Chernobyl, seven years before the disaster.
Extras Both films share excerpts from Andrei Tarkovsky’s Metaphysical Dream Zone – an essay read out over footage from the films, and as thrilling as that sounds – and come with 40-page booklets. Solaris ( ) includes an interesting interview with actress Natalya Bondarchuk, while Stalker ( ) includes chats with set designer Rashit Safiullin and a melancholy final interview with cinematographer Aleksander Knyazhinsky (who passed away in 1996). Will Salmon
The term “Stalker” has been adopted in real life by brave/foolish people who explore the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
Frank and Sue nervously entered the swingers party.