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Solaris (2002)

Psychologist Chris Kelvin (George Clooney) is despatched to a research station orbiting the planet-like body known as ‘Solaris’. His task is to negotiate the safe return of the crew who have lost contact with Earth. On arrival, he is immediately confronted by scenes that both confuse and disturb him, but his biggest test is the appearance of a phenomenon that could scarcely be more familiar or more shocking to him ..

Steven Soderbergh’s adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s novel appeared with little fanfare in 2002/2003, despite having James Cameron attached as producer and Clooney as its star. Over 10 years on from the release of this movie, it definitely feels like time for a re-evaluation.

The fact that the original screen version of Lem’s novel, filmed in 1972 by Andrei Tarkovsky, is considered to be a classic of science fiction cinema, seems to have automatically given the impression that Soderbergh’s version is an unnecessary ‘English Language’ remake. But there are no concrete reasons why both films cannot be viewed as separate and equally valid interpretations of the same source material.

Soderbergh’s film doesn’t attempt to cover the cosmic scope of Tarkovsky’s study of humanity’s ambitions and flaws. The fact that it’s over an hour shorter clearly has something to do with this. It’s a film much more focussed on emotions and, as with the best ‘Sci-fi’, uses its setting to examine essential themes from a new angle. In this case, the reliability of memory, the authenticity of our relationships with one another, and our experience of reality.

If the movie ‘Blade Runner’ had jettisoned its detective plot and concentrated more on the interaction between Deckard and Rachel, it would probably have probed similar thematic areas. Clooney definitely steps out of his comfort zone and, with the possible exception of Syriana, it may well be the most challenged he’s been in any of his big screen roles (and, yes, you get to see his buttocks as well – if that’s important to you … )

The 2002 version has its quirks (Jeremy Davies’ performance for one) and isn’t perfect, but, in many ways, it’s much more successful at developing its ideas through storytelling, and it exploits cinema’s suitability to explore memory. Tarkovsky’s more poetic approach makes strong use of imagery and mood, but also finds itself reliant on ‘speechifying’ from time to time to illustrate its ideas.

Hollywood doesn’t often slip up and give smart, creative filmmakers big budgets to make visually appealing films about big ideas. In this case they did, and you should really take advantage …

Tickets are £7.50 (or £5 to Prince Charles Members) and can be bought (here)

Not a Prince Charles Member? Maybe it’s time you considered it? At £10 per year, it’s possibly the best value cinema membership in the capital (with a saving of at least £2.50 per movie). The cinema shows a mixture of recent releases and an extensive monthly programme of cult and classic movies. It’s more than likely that there will be a few more Movie Group events at this cinema before the year is out. For more membership details click (here)

(and, no, I'm not on commission, nor do I work for the cinema or know anyone who does :-] )

I will send an e-mail around to all those who have RSVPed shortly before the event with meeting details.  We will aim to go for a drink afterwards to discuss the movie.

Join or login to comment.


    Sorry i didnt receive any email ill entry tell me something here to see everybody after the movie

    March 27, 2014

  • Donna

    On my way. Should be there by 6.20pm

    March 27, 2014

  • Ruairi F.

    I'm afraid work commitments rule me out for the film. Enjoy

    March 27, 2014

  • Karri

    Am a maybe now - getting caught up in something at work and don't know if I'll be able to leave on time to make the movie

    March 27, 2014


    Plase i need meeting details.

    March 27, 2014

    • Gavin

      Hi Adela. I've sent you the e-mail with the meeting details.

      March 27, 2014

  • Gavin

    Hi. I've sent out an e-mail with meeting details for tomorrow. Please let me know if you haven't received it.

    March 26, 2014

    • Daniel

      can i have the meeting details

      March 27, 2014

    • Gavin

      Hi Daniel. I've sent you an e-mail with the details. Please double-check your junk mail if it hasn't appeared.

      March 27, 2014

  • Yiota

    Would love to go but I don't think I will be in London on Thursday.

    March 24, 2014

  • Jane B.

    Er, I just set this to record tonight before I joined up! I will have to look out for the next film.....

    March 23, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I won't book until there are actual meetup details!?

    March 7, 2014

    • Gavin

      Hi. I will e-mail out meeting details shortly before the event.

      March 7, 2014

  • terence f.

    A great film so enjoy it.

    March 7, 2014

  • Valeria

    Gutted I can't make it :(
    Enjoy it guys!

    March 7, 2014

21 went

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