With his adaptation of the novel by Stanislaw Lem, Andrei Tarkovsky brought a new compassion and artistic sensitivity to the sci-fi genre, challenging our conceptions about love, truth, and humanity itself.
After Russian Ground Control receive a mysterious transmission from the three remaining residents onboard the Solaris space station, cosmonaut and psychologist Kris Kelvin is sent on mission to investigate. Confronted by the skeleton crew - who are displaying psychological instability due to the presence of ‘visitors’ - it’s not long before Kris too begins to encounter a visitor of his own (that of his late wife), sending him on a voyage into the darkest recesses of his consciousness. Taunting him with illusionary compassion, Kris must choose whether to cling to reality or submit to the planet’s gift of a lost love regained.
Tarkovsky was much more interested in the inner regions of his characters minds than outer space. In exploring the idea of human desire held captive and how that desire might push human behaviour to extremes when compressed into an inescapable physical environment, he set the tone for a more grounded, internalised style of science-fiction cinema.