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The Soviet film that captivated George Clooney, Hollywood did it his way and the writer of the novel detested

50 years after its premiere, Solaris, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Cannes-winning work, remains one of the most original science fiction films of the 1970s.

Solaris is the third feature film by Andrei Tarkovsky and the most popular of the seven he made in his career prematurely interrupted by his death at the age of 54: it was seen by more than 10 million people in the Soviet Union and became a work cult in the rest of the world. However, Stanislav Lem, the author of the original novel, who was made world famous by the film, detested it.In 1972, he won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes festival and has since been considered a milestone in the history of science fiction . In fact, it used to be promoted as “the Soviet answer to 2001, a space odyssey ″. In 2002 it was remade in the United States as a romantic space drama, with Steven Soderberg directing and George Clooney in the title role (the film was highly praised for its never-before-seen footage of Clooney’s tail).

Solaris was the only film from the Soviet period to receive a remake in Hollywood . Not only that, it was also heavily looted: Sphere , starring Dustin Hoffman and based on the novel by Michael Crichton, tells the same story, except that instead of an extrasolar planet there is a huge, unexplained golden sphere and the space platform where it sits. where the bulk of the action takes place is changed by another at the bottom of the sea.Although it was made at one of the heights of the Cold War, this is not a particularly Soviet work given that Tarkovsky was never a devotee of his country’s political system: to release each of his films produced by the state-owned Mosfilm company, he had to face to bureaucrats and censors who objected to a suspicious lack of socialist fanaticism and an equally suspicious abundance of mysticism.

after stalker(1979), his fifth film, he did not film again in the USSR. This is another extraordinary work of science fiction, based on a nouvelle by the Strugatsky brothers that narrates the journey of three men through the “zone”, an area closed by the government where, it is said, wishes come true, a tiny plot that without too much effort can be seen as an allusion to the iron curtain and the restrictions imposed by the communist regimes (although the resistance to automatic readings is one of the many merits of the film). Solaris can be described in much the same way: it’s the story of three other men exploring another restricted area, in this case an exoplanet that, if it doesn’t fulfill wishes, materializes fantasies.

About Nabeel Haider

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