When Psychologists Go To Space

clooney.jpg Now and again, a film will appear at the multiplexes, get poo-pooed, and vanish into oblivion. Most of such films are deserving of their subsequent obscurity. Now and again though, a real corker will slip through. During one of my recent rummages in charity shop VHS stocks, I unearthed one such disregarded gem: Solaris.

I’d heard of this, but never felt any particular urge to watch it. I don’t remember any fuss about it when it came out. But the critic quotes on the back cover hailed it as one of the greatest science fiction films of all time, a likely cult classic for decades to come. How did this film ever slip through the fine mesh of my cultural awareness?

A brief glance suggests that this is a simple popcorn film. It certainly ticks the ‘George Clooney‘ and ‘space ship’ boxes, but those hoping for an all-out blockbuster might be disappointed. No wonder it bombed at the multiplexes (assuming, of course, that it did). This is arthouse all the way.

In an admittedly unlikely set-up, Clooney plays a psychologist sent to investigate the strange goings-on aboard a space-station orbiting the mysterious planet Solaris. Once there, he is visited by his dead wife, very much alive and well. Understandably, this throws up all manner of emotional, moral and metaphysical quandaries.

Comparisons have been reasonably drawn to Sphere (the psychologist goes underwater, rather than into space) and Event Horizon, but I think Solaris is better than both (possibly combined). It’s a slow burner, with the narrative about the rise and fall of Chris and Rheya’s earthly marriage spliced into all the space stuff in such a way as the two strands become blurred together. Like an Eternal Sunshine laced with a good dash of 2001.

A most rewarding watch, this one. Stay tuned for other forgotten treasures from the bargain bucket.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Films, Psychology

2 Comments on “When Psychologists Go To Space”

  1. kenny Says:

    I had the pleasure of seeing Solaris in the cinema when it came out, a very good film it is too.
    you should check out the Russian original from the 1970’s.

  2. Doug Says:

    It must’ve been good on the big screen. My television screen is about the size of a postage stamp, and might have undermined the experience somewhat.

    The original is supposed to be a bit user-unfriendly (i.e. boring), but I’ll look out for it. I might read the novel as well, if I can get hold of it.


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