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Solaris

Steven Soderbergh

Solaris
Before George Lucas got his hands on it, science fiction was a medium of ideas. Action-oriented sci-fi flicks belonged in B-movie land; serious filmmakers used the form to explore big themes — the nature of human existence, of the universe, and our place in it. It is in this thought-provoking tradition that Steven Soderbergh (Out of Sight, Traffic) offers Solaris, a revisioning of the novel from Russian writer Stanislaw Lem, the same work that inspired filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky's 1972 effort. Soderbergh's film riffs on similar subjects to both Lem and Tarkovsky, but his context is more emotional than theoretical. In a non-specific future, psychologist Chris Kelvin (George Clooney) is called to investigate mysteries aboard a space station orbiting the planet-like object Solaris. He arrives to find that Solaris is communicating through the station's inhabitants, particularly their inner lives, manifested by the sudden embodiment of Kelvin's dead wife (Natascha McElhone). Interpretation of this snail's pace film won't be found anywhere on the DVD extras — Soderbergh is too clever to provide a map to this internal journey. But it does reveal the process of the filmmakers and actors, including wacko Jeremy Davies (Saving Private Ryan). Commentary with the director and producer James Cameron (Titanic) also contrasts their different approaches to this material. This is sure to find a greater audience on DVD, since, like Kubrick's space odyssey 2001, repeat viewings are a necessity. Extras: commentary by Soderbergh and Cameron; HBO "making of" featurette; "Behind the Planet" featurette; screenplay. (Fox)
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