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Solaris (1972)

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Film historians Vida Johnson and Graham Petrie Rating:7.1/10 (7 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by colinr on March 7th, 2007:Find all reviews by colinr
An excellent commentary from two scholars who literally wrote the book on Tarkovsky! They have a nice relay race type commentary style, with one commentator handing over to the other. There is very little interaction or discussion between the two due to the formal nature of their commentary, but the get across a lot of information, and they are very well spoken. This is probably Tarkovsky's most accessible film, so it is great that this gets an accessible introductory commentary to Tarkovsky.

Among the information pointed out is the autobiographical elements that Tarkovsky added to Stanislaw Lem's story, pushing the film into areas of more personal interest. Also there is much discussion of Tarkovsky's other films, especially relevant as Solaris was a changing of the guard in terms of Tarkovsky's previous collaborators. Also the commentators point out the motif of characters in his films falling over before entering a new stage of their lives, which I'd never noticed before!

There are some areas I don't agree with in the commentary, such as describing the five minute driving sequence as the worst part of the film. For me it was one of the most distinctive parts! The other part which didn't work was the discussion of the ending, which twists a rather straightforward climax into a discussion of whether the lead character even left the Earth at all. However the commentators bringing up these points prodded me into thinking more deeply about the issues of why I enjoyed the driving sequence and why I felt the ending to be relatively straightforward!

One of my very favourite commentaries, and along with the commentary by Tom Mes on Bullet Ballet it is one that I return to often.
Reviewed by zombking on January 17th, 2008:Find all reviews by zombking
These two Tarkovsky experts are rare in that they are able to criticize (see: find some negative aspects) in a film that they are commenting on, which is somewhat rare among commentaries. They point out some of the continuity problems (knowing that Tarkovsky wasn't concerned about such trivialities) and offer critical words regarding certain sequences that go on that defy explanation (let's be honest, most are not fans of the driving sequence.)

Though they do point these out, however, they also manage to get a lot of information across regarding Tarkovsky, and it is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the director and his works. They quote from Tarkovsky's book ("Sculpting in Time") in order to give the director's own explanation for certain themes or elements, and they help define the thematic differences in the film and book. Overall, a worthy listen for anyone even half-interested in "this Tarkovsky fellow."