This was one of my most anticipated films of my Criterion Collection. It had been built up a lot, and it succeeded in most regards to living up to its high praises. It’s one of those films you walk into expecting a masterpiece. And while it was missing that extra something to make me call it a masterpiece, it’s easy to see the merits the film possesses and the reasons why it gets all of its praise. I agree that it’s important and easily a classic and landmark scifi film.
This being the first Tarkovsky film I’ve seen, I was absolutely blown away by the haunting cinematography. It added to the haunting plot. The camerawork winds its way around the space shuttle in a ghost like fashion, bringing the audience into the swirling psyche of the characters, which mirrors the whirlpool planet beneath them. It builds an atmosphere which is hard to shake after the film has finished. Like the entire film, it lasts like double mint gum. Making the viewer chew over the atmosphere, characters, and deeply philosophical plot.
It’s hard to describe the film after one viewing. The basic plot is about a man who goes to a shuttle on a foreign planet to psychoanalyze the crew members who have been sending back strange reports. While on the shuttle, he falls victim to the psychological effects which have been haunting the crew members. He sees a wife who he has lost in the past, and no matter what he does he can’t shake his former love from haunting him. The themes run throughout the film and only tighten as the plot advances. It shows the way people can tend to live in the past, and how we can allow the past to define us wether it be past mistakes, or past events that have shaped you.
This film has intrigued me into exploring other Tarkovsky works. The performances and every other aspect of the film gives a haunting impression. It’s part scifi horror, part psychological thriller, and even has hints of Bunuel in there. Highly recommended.