Solaris is a 2002 American science fiction drama film written and directed by Steven Soderbergh, produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau, and starring George Clooney and Natascha McElhone. Based on the 1961 science fiction novel of the same name by Polish writer Stanisław Lem. And inspired by Andrei Tarkovsky’s critically acclaimed film ‘Solaris’, from 1972.
The film centers on George Clooney’s character Dr. Chris Kelvin, who is a psychologist sent to investigate the unexplained behavior of key scientists on an isolated research station orbiting a bizarre planet called ‘Solaris’. Once aboard he, too, falls victim to this unique world’s mysteries as well as to an erotic obsession with someone he thought he had left behind.
At the beginning of the film, Dr. Kelvin leaves Earth that seems unusually crisp, metallic, and achingly clear, only to arrive at Prometheus to discover the station circling gas-shrouded Solaris, a world covered with a huge, misty, possibly sentient ocean – and its crew in the grip of seeming hysteria.
With its slow pacing and plenty of long shots, the film seems inspired by the science fiction filmmaking of the 1960s, by such films as Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. But ‘Solaris’ do not intentionally strive for “2001”-style awe and wonder, as it is almost willfully anti-spectacular. It is nonetheless a delightfully eerie film that casts an odd, rapt spell on you.